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Pistons vs. Timberwolves Preview: Detroit tips off season opener, top 10 picks debut

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The wait is FINALLY over

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It has been 287 days since the Detroit Pistons have played a meaningful game of NBA basketball. They’ll tip off the 2020-21 season against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finished last season with a 19-45 record, third worst in the entire NBA.

The Timberwolves have drastically altered their roster dating back to last year’s trade deadline. Most of their core acquisitions, including D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez, were scooped up near the deadline, and weren’t able to truly acclimate themselves with their new team before the season came to screeching halt due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Like Detroit, Minnesota was not invited to the bubble down in Orlando, so they’ll face the similar challenge of learning how to play with one another on the fly.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

What To Watch For

One of the most exciting elements to this game will be the official debut of top 10 picks from the 2020 NBA draft, Anthony Edwards for Minnesota and Killian Hayes for Detroit. Edwards was drafted #1 overall following a one-and-done season with the Georgia Bulldogs, where he averaged 19.1 points and 5.2 boards on 40% shooting from the field and 29% from three.

Both Edwards and Hayes struggled throughout the preseason, but there’s no need to put much stock into those performances - they had a shortened training camp and had just joined their team a month prior to the preseason tip-off. If Detroit and Minnesota are to make any significant leap in the near future, these two will have to be as good as advertised, if not better.

For Detroit, keep your eye out on the rotations. It’s not yet clear who will get extended playing time under head coach Dwane Casey, other than their two marquee players, Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, last year’s first round pick Sekou Doumbouya, and the former Nugget duo of Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee.

Detroit essentially wiped the slate clean this past offseason as they’ve acquired the aforementioned Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey in the first round of the draft, and Grant, Plumlee, Josh Jackson, Delon Wright, Jahlil Okafor, Rodney McGruder and Wayne Ellington via free agency or trade.

Inevitably some of these players will ride the pine for an extended period of time, one would just hope that the Pistons, given their current state, would allow their young guys the opportunity to play their way off the court before being penciled in as a developmental project from the get-go.

Projected Lineups

Detroit

Killian Hayes, Delon Wright, Jerami Grant, Blake Griffin, Mason Plumlee

Minnesota

D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Josh Okogie, Jake Layman, Karl Anthony-Towns

Question of the Game

Who are the first, second and third man to check in off the bench for the Pistons?