Happy New Year! As we flip the calendar to 2021, it’s officially New Years Resolution Szn.
This is a time where us normal folk proudly announce that we’ll drink a little less, eat a little healthier, and go to the gym a little more. For the Detroit Pistons — currently making themselves comfortable in the NBA’s cellar — the only place to go is up.
Here are a handful of resolutions for a pair of vets and a pair of young guns:
BLAKE GRIFFIN & DERRICK ROSE — REMAIN IN GOOD HEALTH
You can say a lot about Griffin and Rose, but these two have handled the last season-plus as well as any veterans could. They’re good soldiers, going out and playing hard nightly despite the team sinking to the bottom of the standings.
However, they’re not dumb. Rose could (should?) have been dealt last year. There was a theory floated about that the Pistons held off because Rose was one of the few marketable faces for this season. He’d sell tickets, grab eye balls. Well, there aren’t any tickets to sell, so we’re just delaying the inevitable here. Rose hasn’t looked sharp this season, but as long as he stays healthy and plays like he did last year, he’ll be a very desirable player (and expiring contract) when the deadline rolls around.
And, honestly, if he’s healthy and playing well over the next month and a good deal arises, the Pistons should pull the trigger sooner than later. Holding off until the eleventh hour only to see Rose get injured right before the deadline would be catastrophic.
Much of that applies to Griffin, though his bloated contract makes it more difficult. We’ve overrated how impactful Griffin and Rose are to this team’s on-court performance. When they play, the Pistons are certainly better... but they’re still very bad.
Regardless, the healthier they stay, they more opportunity they have to show 29 other teams in the league that they’re the piece they need to take the next step.
KILLIAN HAYES — GET MORE EXPERIENCE
I’ll just let Dwane Casey set this one up:
Casey added that Killian Hayes started slow in Germany last year, but finished strong. "When you look at his history in Germany, it was similar. There was a learning curve, but once he got through that he took off."— Omari Sankofa II (@omarisankofa) December 31, 2020
Hayes has struggled thus far, but he just needs more experience.
The more he plays, the more he’s comfortable he’ll be handling the ball against NBA-caliber defenders. With that, he’s going to get better at picking his spots, knowing when to pull out his step-back jumper, when to work his way to the rim, how to play with his (still) new teammates against defenses that aren’t the bad one he practices against.
Once that starts happening, he’s going to feel more empowered out there. It’s about more than just “starting” the game. A comfortable Hayes won’t be looking to force the ball into Griffin’s hands every time down. He’ll have a better feel for what he can do off the pick-and-roll. It just takes time.
I think the Pistons fan base has overreacted over the lack of playing time for some of these young guys. As long as he gets the reps, the Hayes we see today will be a distant memory once Valentine’s Day rolls around.
SEKOU DOUMBOUYA — FIND A CONSISTENT ROLE
This is probably more of a resolution for Casey than it is Doumbouya, but the easiest way to find a consistent role is to force your coach’s hand — ala Josh Jackson.
Outside of a 6-point, 9-rebound effort in the season opener against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Doumbouya hasn’t done much. He has played just 10.8 minutes per game, and the Pistons have been worse on both ends of the floor when he’s out there.
That’s not all his fault—the bench overall bleeds points—but it doesn’t help that he’s shot just 6 of 20 thus far. Doumbouya is in a weird place. He spent last season primarily as a power forward, and the Pistons have Griffin and Jerami Grant occupying almost all of those minutes.
Sekou has seen time as a small-ball center this year and he can play small forward in the right matchup but, at the moment, he appears to be stuck as Casey’s fourth forward. He’s not going to be gifted minutes, so finding a way to fill on of the Pistons’ many voids is the key to getting on the court more in 2021.