Deeee-troit Basketball is back!! No, it’s really back!! We are not talking about the pretend basketball you find in Summer League, training camp or even preseason. We are talking about the real, meaningful NBA basketball. Detroit Pistons basketball is back and after one game it looks like the Isaiah Stewart we all fell in love with last season is back as well. The floor running, rebounding, and doing all the dirty work rookie from last year has returned and looks like he is as full of energy as ever.
My guess is that nobody doubted this is the Stewart that we would get opening night (and presumably every other game this season), but it was still nice to see it with our own eyes on Wednesday night. But what I am most interested to see from him this season is the progression to his game. I went to the film and broke down the parts of his game we continue to see from last season, anything new he may have shown and some aspects I would still like to see.
We all know that Stewart is a guy that will run the floor, set hard screens and keep possessions alive on the boards. What I really liked seeing in this game was him showing an ability to finish around the rim through contact and contests. Being a bit “undersized” (relatively speaking) and not the highest of risers, it may not always be the most aesthetically pleasing finishes but as long as Stew finds a way to get the ball in the basket, that’s all that matters. What more would I like to see from his offensive game? A consistent shooting touch would be great but also an ability to pass out of double teams and in screen and roll situations. We saw one example of this on Wednesday but will be something I continue to watch for as we play out the next month of games.
I absolutely love when Beef Stew gets switched out onto a perimeter player, and you can tell they think they are just going to blow by before ending up disappointed and passing off or taking a contested jumper. I’m not saying Stewart is the most switchable big in the Association, BUT he sure is a heck of a lot better than most people give him credit for and he had a handful of possessions in this game where he was able to showcase his abilities. What impressed me the most on the defensive end against the Bulls though? How he held up at the point of attack against Nikola Vucevic in the post. Again, as a player that is relatively “undersized” for his position I think it is fair to have concerns about how he will hold up in these situations but if this game is any indication he will be just fine. I break down both aspects of Stewart’s defensive game in the video below.
Man, it was good to see our Pistons back in action and watch Isaiah Stewart doing what we all have come to love about the 2nd year big man. Here’s to seeing all of that the rest of the season……...and more!