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DBB on 3: Recapping the first-half of the Pistons’ season

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The Pistons are half a season into their restoration... what did we think and what do we expect going forward?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

We are officially half a season into Troy Weaver’s rebuild of the Detroit Pistons. There have been some surprising highs and some unsurprising lows. The team sits at 10-26, worst in the Eastern Conference and second worst in the NBA behind the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Let’s take a closer look at the first half:

1. What is your assessment of the first half of the Pistons’ season?

Brady Fredericksen: I thought it was surprisingly entertaining. The team is bad, but they aren’t bad in a sad/depressing way. They’re bad because they’re relying upon so many green young players. It’s fun watching guys like Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey learn through experience. I’ve also loved that each rookie has had a “moment” or two, even a guy like Saben Lee whom I had ZERO expectations for. This is a fun basketball team, period.

David Fernandez: The Tank is going as well as it possibly could, except for the whole Killian Hayes injury thing. Detroit has been competitive, while still racking up losses, and has played their young core heavy minutes—PERFECT. I’m also MUCH higher on Troy Weaver’s draft selections and free agency moves than I had expected, which makes me even more bullish on the Hayes pick.

Ben Gulker: For better and worse, this is what a real rebuild feels like. Losing with a purpose in sight is so much better than losing while trying to win.

Justin Lambregtse: Pleasantly surprised. This team isn’t good, but I haven’t had this much fun watching a Pistons team since like 2007. The young guys show promise, the veterans fit with them and don’t get in their way, everything is great.

Ryan Pravato: There seems to be a positive culture developing. It’s never easy in pro sports to keep good culture going but some or most of these young guys seem to be worth building around. Can’t believe it’s happening — things are looking up for the Pistons.

Christopher Daniels: This all went so much better than I could ever have imagined. Apart from Killian’s injury, the team is playing pretty much like my best case scenario heading into the season: a version of the Brooklyn Nets from a few seasons ago. That team played their asses off nightly but just didn’t have the mature talent to win games. And we are in an even better position over that Nets era because we actually have draft picks to benefit from the losing in the lottery.

enbiejowiec: I like the plan they seem to be following and its execution. They’re really rebuilding and doing it the right way. The young guys are developing visibly from game to game and investments in high-upside players like Grant, Josh Jackson, and Dennis Smith, Jr. are paying dividends. Veterans like Delon Wright and Mason Plumlee mesh very well with both groups. Contracts of practically all players are already good to great assets. And all this is happening while the team is finally developing something we can call a culture with which Pistons fans can identify.

I don’t like some things outside of the Pistons but related to them, though. If the Timberwolves or Rockets aren’t able to play decent basketball with the players they have, they don’t deserve to have lottery odds on par with Detroit that is playing very fun and competitive basketball. Especially Minnesota, which has wasted so many young players in recent years — why give them a chance to do it again?

2. What is your #HotTake from the first half?

Brady Fredericksen: Is it a hot take to think that Jerami Grant is definitely good enough to be the second banana on this team the next time they’re good? I think he’s proven he can carry enough of a load offensively that, if slotted next to a true star scorer, he can be No. 2 guy — a wing who can score and rebound while defending his ass off.

David Fernandez: Dwayne Casey is a major reason why their young players have performed above expectations. He should stay on as head coach for the rebuild, should he want to.

Ben Gulker: Jerami Grant is becoming overrated and is not a franchise cornerstone talent. He will likely command a max contract if he keeps scoring like this, and the Pistons should work to trade him rather than retain him at that price.

Justin Lambregtse: Isaiah Stewart is going to be the Pistons best player from this draft class. He’s starting to show promise as a shooter, and if that pops he is going to be such a good player.

Ryan Pravato: The Svi Mykhailiuk experiment is over. Svi is a legit NBA player and should have an NBA job, but he’s not quite a rotation caliber guy for a winning team (I hope I’m wrong, I like Svi a lot and want him to break out).

Christopher Daniels: Dwane Casey deserves to still be the coach when this team gets into playoff contention. He has proven he can work a rebuild and now he deserves a chance to see his efforts pay off, unlike what happened in Toronto.

enbiejowiec: The team has a future no worse than the 2000-01 team. Another one: Stan Van Gundy is wasting the potential of young Pelicans’ roster.

3. What is your #HotTake for the second half?

Brady Fredericksen: Saben Lee is the best point guard on the team. I know Killian Hayes may return in the second half, but I’ve just been so impressed with Lee. His game isn’t super flashy, but he’s got so much burst. He’s an elite athlete who doesn’t rely upon his athleticism. He’s like a mix of Tony Parker and Ish Smith. I think Delon Wright will be traded and he’s already better than Dennis Smith, Jr... and with Hayes, I just think they’ll bring him back slowly this year considering his value going forward.

David Fernandez: Killian Hayes isn’t a bust, and he’ll put together some performances that at least temporarily ease Pistons fans concerns.

Ben Gulker: Killian Hayes won’t earn any minutes he gets over Saben Lee.

Justin Lambregtse: The Pistons will end up closer to the play-in games than they will to the number 1 odds in the lottery.

Ryan Pravato: Isaiah Stewart will have a statue outside LCA come the beginning of next season.

Christopher Daniels: Isaiah Stewart is starting games by the end of the season. If he starts getting his offensive game going like he did in college he’ll be starting at the 5 and Plumlee will go back to the role he’d filled up until this year.

enbiejowiec: Sekou Doumbouya will hit his stride in the second half of the season... and SVG will continue to waste the potential of young Pelicans’ roster.

As always, we’d love to hear from you! Provide your answers in the comments.

1. What is your assessment of the first half of the Pistons’ season?

2. What is your #HotTake from the first half?

3. What is your #HotTake for the second half?