The Detroit Pistons played a mostly miserable game and dropped its fourth straight to begin the season in a 116-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors.
The Pistons not only lost the game but also two starters in Blake Griffin (concussion protocol) and rookie Killian Hayes (ankle sprain). Steph Curry led all scorers with 31 points. The Pistons were led by Jerami Grant with 27 points.
The Pistons struggled up and down the roster but nothing matched just how little they got out of their point guard rotation tonight. Before his injury Hayes struggled and save for a short spurt in the second half Derrick Rose was awful and Delon Wright was invisible.
The complete lack of point guard production meant a lot of non-point guards tried to do way too much with the ball including center Mason Plumlee, forward Grant and Josh Jackson. The Pistons had only 15 turnovers, but it was much, much uglier than the box score makes it look.
The Pistons had no semblance of a plan on offense, and it meant a lot of players were freestyling out there. After some early struggles, Grant was able to using his shot and his athleticism to carve out a nice game for himself, but Detroit only shot 38% overall.
The Warriors came into the game struggling even more on offense than Detroit, but the Pistons defense was a mess too. Leaving shooting open on the perimeter and not communicating or cutting off the lane leading to some highlight-worthy dunks for No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins.
It was an ugly, ugly game.
Let’s go back to the injuries really quick because hopefully those will be short-lived. Blake took a hard shot from Wiseman fighting for a rebound and took a forearm right to the jaw. It drew blood and Blake seemed phased. He stayed in the game but never came out after halftime.
Hayes, meanwhile, seemed to tweak his ankle while running in transition. He tried to loosen up on the sideline and walked up and down the sideline without favoring his foot much and walked off into the locker room without much trouble. It seemed like they were being overly cautious with their important first overall pick.
Now let’s cover some of the few bright spots for Detroit. The first is Isaiah Stewart. The rookie big man plays hard and just seems to have a nose for the ball. He collected seven rebounds in 23 minutes and added six points and two blocks. Four of his rebounds were offensive. Stewart did struggle on defense some but he seems to make good things happen when he sees the floor.
He’s seeing action right now because of the ankle injury of Jahlil Okafor, who missed his second straight game. But I think at this point Stewart has outplayed Okafor and Dwane Casey will have to consider giving Stewart more minutes, and more specifically Okafor’s minutes.
Another positive — though you might have missed it if you got a snack or went to the bathroom — was Sekou Doumbouya. The young forward is a bit of a tweener right now and not entirely comfortable working in the paint, but he too has a knack for getting points and making good things happen. Sekou had nine points in just 10 minutes of action.
Doumbouya is nursing an ankle issue of his own and it’s unclear if that is why he isn’t getting heavy doses of minutes or if it’s just because Casey can’t figure out how to fit him into the regular rotation at the moment. Grant has played heavy minutes all season and played 37 again tonight.
Fellow rookie Saddiq Bey again had a strong showing on offense, scoring in bursts for the second straight game. Bey had 11 points, but he also seems to have a penchant for leaving his man wide open on the perimeter, which worked better in college than it will in the NBA. It’s something he’ll have to clean up if he wants regular minutes early this season.
Svi Mykhailiuk also hit 2 of his 4 three-point attempts, which was nice to see after he struggled mightily with his perimeter shot in the first three games of the year.
Now to the bad. Derrick Rose just doesn’t look right. I don’t know if it’s his age, if he’s just not yet played himself into game shape after nine months off and a limited training camp and preseason, or if it’s just pure randomness. But his handle is extremely loose, he’s getting his shot blocked a ton, he’s making limp passes into crowds and he can’t hit his jumper.
Rose had a solid stretch at the end of the third and start of the fourth where he was playing controlled, moving confidently and making shots. But then he went to the bench for a rest and by the time he came back out to finish the game he had lost the magic. He finished the night with 15 points, seven assists and two turnovers on 6-of-18 shooting.
Josh Jackson was put into the starting lineup to help provide an offensive spark and assertiveness into the lineup and allow Delon Wright to use his all-around game off the bench. Jackson again looked aggressive and ended with 17 points and got the line eight times, but he struggled on defense and got into foul trouble.
Wright, meanwhile, was invisible in 28 minutes. He was too passive all night and allowed his teammates to dictate the action to often disastrous results. He ended with just five shots and five points.
Mason Plumlee also struggled all night. He couldn’t rotate on defense and left the lane open too often and missed all five of his shots while also coughing it up three times.
The Pistons schedule doesn’t get any easier from here as these first four contests was the easiest leg in their first-half schedule. The good news is the Pistons’ young players are showing positive signs to varying degrees and a reclamation project in Jackson looks like a worthy investment. Grant seems like his offensive game can withstand the added attention and need to get his own.
As much as a rebuilding team and a fanbase with a thirst for a really high draft pick doesn’t mind losing, you also don’t want it to become a “thing” that becomes a talking point and an issue the players need to address if the record stretches to 0-10 or 0-15.
In the end, we just want Killian to be OK and start looking a little more comfortable, more minutes for Doumbouya and Stewart and for Bey and Jackson to continue carving out roles on the offensive end.