Wings win rings, baby. And the Detroit Pistons have a lot of depth at the wing this year. The Pistons’ roster is filled with youth, and the wing is full of bets at the most important position in basketball, so while no rings seem imminent, there are important building blocks in place.
What makes Detroit’s rotation so interesting is the sheer number of players that Dwane Casey can have fill in from the 2 to the 4 as wings. It will be an interesting challenge for Casey to craft the best lineups with these players.
Are the Wings Better This Year?
The answer is a pretty unequivocal yes despite the fact the wings were the strongest positional group last year. However, the addition of Cade Cunningham to the wing group goes a long way toward improving the group as a whole.
Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey both return as starters and they will be improved with another year together. With Cade added, they will have an easier time getting efficient shots and can focus more on filling that role.
Josh Jackson and Hamidou Diallo return off the bench and they proved to be legit contributors last season. With the improved passing on the roster, these are players that could take a step up in efficiency and production. Rodney McGruder also returns as a deep reserve and veteran presence.
The main losses on the wing are Deividas Sirvydis, Sviatoslav Mykhailuk, and Sekou Doumbouya. These players were not really contributors to the team last year and in some cases losing them might be addition by subtraction.
There were some young additions to the depth at the wing that could be really interesting. Isaiah Livers, Jamorko Pickett, and Chris Smith are all interesting end-of-bench guys who could fill in at different times once they are all healthy.
Overall, much like the rest of the roster, I think the wings have noticeably improved as a group. Adding a number one overall pick who projects to be one of the best wing shot-makers in the league right out of the gate and is also a great passer goes a long way towards improving the unit in its entirety.
Starters: Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant
Bench Unit: Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson
Deep Reserves: Rodney McGruder, Isaiah Livers
Two-Ways: Chris Smith, Jamorko Pickett
The starting unit here is a really solid one. Cade is a rookie and there will be some growing pains, but he is such a good shot-maker and passer that it is hard to see him not at least bringing some value early.
Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of Cade’s presence. Bey will get a lot more spot-ups and have more space to attack close-outs. Grant won’t be the only go-to scorer on the roster anymore and that will really let him focus on efficiency and being an elite secondary attacker.
The fit with the starting group of wings is really solid. All of them can shoot, all of them can attack a closeout, and they are all pretty solid decision-makers. Casey will have some fun building an offense around these guys.
The question here is how much staggering we should expect with this group. With such a synergistic fit, it would make sense to play them all together and maximize each of them. However, the bench lacks the passing and spacing of this group but has some high-level athleticism. Figuring out what that rotation should look like will be a major storyline of the season.
The bench duo is really interesting, especially if they are staggered apart from each other. Hamidou Diallo and Josh Jackson are both interesting, athletic slashers who bring different dimensions to the floor than many other bench wings in the league.
Diallo is a really underrated player by general consensus and his driving ability is legitimately really interesting. He is an elite athlete who knows how to leverage that to get downhill and create churn in a defense. If he continues to improve as a passer and defensive playmaker, there is real 6th-man upside with Diallo.
Josh Jackson has been a real success story for the Pistons. After flaming out in Phoenix and Memphis, he has found a real niche in Detroit. He is a solid scorer both on and off the ball and his defense has really improved.
If Casey was to stagger the starters and the bench, I think the most likely scenario would be an early swap of Josh Jackson and Saddiq Bey. Jackson fits better with the starters than Diallo and Bey could really space the floor and get some usage with the bench.
The deep reserves are pretty unlikely to get legitimate minutes this year. Rodney McGruder is mostly a veteran presence to help instill some toughness in this young roster. Isaiah Livers might see some minutes because of his size and shooting, but I only expect these guys to play in the case of injuries plaguing the roster.
The two-way guys are actually very interesting and they will be very fun to watch on the Grand Rapids Drive this year. I doubt either get NBA minutes unless there is a rash of injuries but the G-League is back to a full schedule and these rookies will get a real chance to show what they have with the Drive.
The wing group remains the strongest on the team and also the most interesting to watch from a growth perspective. There are big hopes for Cunningham and Bey to develop into pillars for the future and Jerami Grant is the best player on the team.
The questions around this group are mostly how good Saddiq and Cade can be this year and what the rotations will look like. Dwayne Casey is a very solid head coach but his rotations have not always been the strongest. He will have to find a way to maximize the five wings expected to get major minutes by playing the right lineups together.
In the end, this is a very exciting group to watch. I expect this group to have the top two scorers on the team and be the most impactful defensively. A lot of the Pistons’ success this year will come down to how successful this wing unit can be.