After overanalyzing how everybody looked during Summer League and the preseason, we have finally made it to the games that actually matter. It seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the Detroit Pistons winning the NBA Draft Lottery and getting the opportunity to draft potential franchise cornerstone, Cade Cunningham.
It was a relatively quiet offseason for the Pistons where they mostly worked on holding onto their own free agents. It was the opposite story for the Chicago Bulls, but we will get into that in a bit.
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
When: Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 7 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit or NBA League Pass
Odds: Pistons +3
As alluded to above, the Chicago Bulls had quite the loud offseason. After acquiring All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic at the trade deadline last season, the Bulls floundered through the rest of the season with Zach LaVine missing a lot of games due to COVID protocols, and the Bulls just couldn’t get their chemistry right.
This past offseason, the Chicago brass felt the time was now to build on their core and try to put together a team that can compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Their big haul in free agency was Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan. And while you can question how the core of Ball, DeRozan, LaVine, and Vucevic fit together, you cannot deny that they are a more talented team and the expectations won’t be anything less than a playoff spot.
On paper, a starting lineup of Ball, LaVine, DeRozan, Patrick Williams, and Vucevic should be enough to at least compete for a lower playoff seed in the East, there will probably be a bit of growing pains early on in the season. A majority of the players in this lineup can shoot a bit, but I still think they will struggle a with figuring out how to distribute touches, as they have a lot of players that need the ball in their hands.
This is a pretty impressive lineup offensively, but how well they defend will be the key to how good they will be. Williams and Ball could be considered “above average” defenders, while everybody else have never been known for defense. The Bulls will likely be able to score enough to get by in the regular season, but it will be interesting to see how quickly everything fits together.
As for the Pistons, they had a pretty quiet offseason where they mostly kept their own players. They did add Kelly Olynyk, who should be a key contributor off the bench.
The story for the Pistons is Cade Cunningham. He was trending towards playing according to some reports from the team earlier this week, but the team announced that their number 1 pick will have to wait a little longer to make his NBA debut. This is much to the dismay of many fans (including myself) who bought tickets to the first game for the highly anticipated debut of Cunningham.
There are still plenty of things to look for on the Pistons side, but the intrigue is lowered a bit.
Jerami Grant is looking to build off his breakout season in which he led the Pistons in scoring and finished 2nd in the Most Improved Player Voting. He will likely still play a prominent role scoring the ball for the Pistons, but hopefully the addition of Cade Cunningham and the emergence of Saddiq Bey as more of an offensive creator can take some of the pressure off Jerami Grant and keep him performing at a high level throughout the whole season.
All eyes will be on Killian Hayes now as he has a chance to be the only primary ballhandler for the Pistons with Cade Cunningham out. Developing chemistry between the Pistons last two high picks will be important for the future of the team, but that will have to wait for now. Hayes will still be looking to build off a disappointing rookie season in which he missed most of it due to injury and then struggled upon his return. I am not expecting him to be a 40 percent shooter this year, but he needs to show some signs of improvement on offense and having the chance to be the focus as a ballhandler with Cade Cunningham out will hopefully help him show something.
As was the case for basically the whole preseason, I expect the Pistons young starters to struggle while the bench composed of mostly veterans will likely be better to start the season. Hopefully that improves as the season goes on and Cade Cunningham comes back, but the Pistons have a solid bench led by Cory Joseph, Kelly Olynyk, Josh Jackson, and Frank Jackson.
Chicago Bulls (0-0)
Lonzo Ball, Zach Lavine, Demar DeRozan, Patrick Williams, Nikola Vucevic
Detroit Pistons (0-0)
Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Question of the Day
Which player are you most looking forward to seeing how they improve this season?