Pistons’ Youth Uprising Could Define Season


The Pistons tend to fly under the radar nationally.  This offseason had a little bit more to talk about than normal for the Motor City.  Everyone knows Blake Griffin, especially after he made a return to All-NBA form last season.  Andre Drummond continues to lead the league in rebounds and could be entering a contract year.  Reggie Jackson is often maligned, but low key had the best season of his career last year.  While they are not their former selves, seeing Derrick Rose and Joe Johnson choose Detroit over other suitors is a step in the right direction.  But the Pistons’ youth uprising could define the season.

For the first time in a decade, the Pistons have a little bit of depth.  While the focus will be on the glitzier names for a team that does not get much national exposure, the young players on the roster could be the key to taking the step into the spotlight.  Khyri Thomas and Svi Mykhailiuk are relatively unproven but look to take steps forward in their sophomore seasons.  Both have potential to be multi-positional defenders with a little shooting touch.  Thon Maker is still raw but shows flashes of impressive athleticism.  If Christian Wood is able to make the team and play like he did down the stretch for New Orleans last season, he would be a strong option behind Drummond.

There are three prospects that stand above the rest in terms of hyping up Pistons fans in general.  They are the key to helping lighten Griffin’s load and bringing the team additional success.

Sekou SZN

The most unknown player on the roster is also the most intriguing.  Detroit took a chance on Sekou Doumbouya with their first round pick.  He is the youngest player in the NBA and would be the youngest player on most college teams, not turning 19 until the day before Christmas.  Expecting anything major out of him this year would be folly.  If there are any flashes of his potential, however, fans will fall in love fast.

He has immense potential at 6’9 with the ability to play either forward position.  In the EuroCup season last season he averaged 7 points, 3 boards and an assist in 15 minutes of play.  Dwane Casey has shown time and again his ability to develop raw young talent and Doumbouya certainly fits the bill.  Anything positive out of him would be a boon for the Pistons.  In the years to come the hope is for him to develop into a franchise linchpin.

Keep Shooting Luke

Luke Kennard is finally starting to get some national notice.  Zach Lowe recently listed him on his most intriguing players for this season and it is not hard to figure out why.  Entering his third season in the league, Kennard looks ready to take a major step forward.  Last season, the former Duke guard posted averages of 9.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists over just 22.8 minutes per game.  These numbers do not jump off the page at you but shooting splits of 49 FG%/39 3P%/84 FT% are nothing to ignore.  Altering these averages to the “popular per 36 minutes” averages, he jumps up to a more impressive 15.4 points, 4.6 boards and 3 assists.  Given more minutes he should be looking at an uptick, especially if you look at his playoff performance against the Bucks.

Not much went right for the Pistons in their short post season appearance last season, but Kennard did for sure.  He played 33.3 minutes per game against the best team in the East and upped his averages to 15 points and 4 rebounds with the same shooting numbers, except for 3P% which was up to 60% in the small sample size.  Kennard finally performed free and confident knowing that he could allow the offense to run through him.  Some fans think this portends a spot in the starting lineup, but Kennard and Coach Dwane Casey do not agree.

Kennard fits best with the bench unit, which is now reloaded with more options that will play better with Kennard than the situation last year.  If Kennard can continue taking these steps and consistently perform like he did against Milwaukee, he could be in the running for the 6th Man of the Year award and help carry the Pistons back to the playoffs.  If he stagnates and cannot become a stronger option than the other shooting guards on the roster, other questions need to be asked.

Killer B

The surprise of the season last year had to be Bruce Brown, Jr. and he looks to be an even bigger surprise this year.  After being drafted in the middle of the second round, not much was expected coming into the season.  Brown went on to start 56 games during the regular season and often had the task of guarding the best guard on the other team.  He is an impressive defensive player already.  While his shooting leaves a lot to be desired, he has good passing and slashing skills.

Brown returned to Summer League where he showed the ability to play point guard.  Summer League skepticism aside, this is promising.  He played 4 games this summer with averages of 13.5 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists.  The numbers are obviously not transferable but combo guard potential is something the team needs going forward.  Reggie Jackson played in every game last season and the team added Derrick Rose this off season .  However, neither of those players are beacons of health.  Having Bruce Brown able to play the position or play alongside Tim Frazier guards against some injury concerns.  Furthermore, his elite defense could allow him to be played alongside Kennard or Rose as well.

Final Assessment of the Youth Uprising

The main focus of the team will be Blake Griffin alongside dueling contract years from Drummond and Jackson.  However, the young players will set the ceiling for this season.  The Pistons will have a plethora of young talent to compliment the aforementioned veterans.  If Christian Wood’s preseason performance secure him a roster spot, the young depth is even stronger.  Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown will be looked at contribute in major ways.  Sekou Doumbouya will be the light at the end of the tunnel beckoning the future.  We are under two weeks away from the start of another Pistons season.  Things are looking up.

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About Corey Rausch

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