The Detroit Pistons face off against what could be considered a solid model of a rebuilding franchise in the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz made the painful decision to rebuild and say goodbye to the Grit and Grind era years ago, but they haven’t had too many missteps along their path back toward relevancy.
They hit on their top-3 picks in Ja Morant, top-10 pick Jaren Jackson Jr is a promising, perhaps impact-level big man (he’s had some health setbacks), and have nailed the middle of the first round (Brandon Clarke), the end of the first round (Desmond Bane) and the second round (Xavier Tillman Sr.).
The Pistons hope that they can repeat that level of success with Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Saben Lee and Isaiah Livers.
When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tennessee
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +3
Speaking of Cunningham, unfortunately, the ankle still seems to be an issue and he has not practiced with the team, meaning he is out against the Memphis Grizzlies. This also would seem to put his availability in doubt for Detroit’s next game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
There is a chance he could suit up for the preseason finale Friday against the Philadelphia 76ers, or the team could just opt to wait until the season kicks off Oct. 20 at Little Caesars Arena against the Chicago Bulls.
The good news, however, is that Hayes is likely to play tonight after missing the game against the Spurs. That would slide Saben Lee to the bench, and likely behind Cory Joseph. Also available is Frank Jackson who might replace Rodney McGruder in the starting lineup with Cunningham still unavailable.
Dwane Casey said he wants to keep the bench unit together, and that veteran-laden squad has quickly developed chemistry and effectiveness. The offense really popped once Cory Joseph and Kelly Olynyk created pace, spacing and shot making for the Pistons against the Spurs. And they reportedly pretty easily handled the starting unit in the Pistons’ open practice.
It’s no surprise that a team with that level of skill and experience would best a young squad like the Pistons’ starting unit. The hope is that the starters catch up to the point where it doesn’t create an issue or any inclination to fiddle with the lineups and rotations much.
Having Hayes in the lineup should help with transition, defense and creating some easy looks for others, while Jackson tonight should provide some shot-making potential from the perimeter and hopefully the lineup can hit another gear after that once Cunningham returns (rookie highs and lows expected, of course).
Detroit Pistons (1-0)
Killian Hayes, Frank Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Memphis Grizzlies (2-1)
Jarrett Culver, Derrick Brooks, Desmond Bane, Jaren Jackson Jr., Steven Adams
Question of the Game
I recently discovered that I crossed the 2,000-article mark at some point in the offseason. So the question is, what’s the worst thing I ever wrote?