Well, that was fun.
I know, I know, the Detroit Pistons need to lose games, not win them. The #FadeForCade and #BeCrappyForMobley campaigns are in full effect. However, when you have a game like this, a 118-104 win over the Toronto Raptors, you can’t help but enjoy it.
It’s not that the Pistons improved one of their second-round picks by beating the Raptors, who are spiraling into the depths of no return, it’s that the kids were awesome. This is the kind of game that makes a blah season like this fun.
The building blocks looked like building blocks; the schnozberries tasted like schnozberries.
Hamidou Diallo was the star of the show.
After scoring six points in a quiet debut against the Brooklyn Nets last week, Diallo was all over the place against Toronto. He got to the rim at will, he blocked shots, he hit a triple, he was whipping behind the back passes.
He finished with a double-double, 19 points and 10 rebounds, to go with 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. Diallo did it all, flashing his athleticism on both ends. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really want to see this dude throw down a highlight jam in a game, and that’ll come, but he’s showing that his athleticism is about more than just verticality.
His explosive speed, especially when he has a lane to the rim, combined with his soft touch around the rim makes him a bucket when he gets all the way to the basket:
I really like when Hami attacks off the catch he’s too fast and explosive pic.twitter.com/YTpZUnGtmS— CaDetroit (@RedAlternates) March 30, 2021
Saddiq Bey had a strong game as well, scoring 19 points in about two and a half quarters worth of action. He’s getting more confident off the dribble, and he flashed that a couple times tonight, but Bey is still at his best on those catch-and-shoot situations.
I’ve grown impressed with how nimble he is in the corners. He’s always aware of where he’s at, and is good at the side dribble to make space and get out of trouble. There’s not a lot of room to operate in those areas, but he’s already very good there.
He also did this, which pretty much is a microcosm of this game:
Saben Lee had a much-needed night scoring the ball, finishing with 19 points and 5 assists. He made two early triples, which is nice to see, and did his usual thing of zipping around amongst the trees downlow, finding guys for shots. He really is the Pistons best point guard, which is pretty incredible considering many of us (read: me, specifically) weren’t familiar with him at all when he was drafted.
Isaiah Stewart scored 14 points and hit another triple, showing off his growing offensive repertoire, while Frank Jackson scored 12 points off the bench. Somebody told me this on Twitter the other day — did you know Frank’s only 22-years-old? That blows my mind, he feels like a 26-year-old journeyman.
He’s growing on me — and Dwane Casey is seems — with his always-ready-to-shoot style.
Cory Joseph was great too (really!) finishing with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists against his former team. Those 27 minutes should be cut significantly when Killian Hayes returns (hopefully next week) but in the meantime Joseph is giving the Pistons good minutes and a veteran presence.
Even Tyler Cook, fresh off his second 10-day contract, had an impact with 6 boards, 2 assists and 3 points, bringing the ball up court himself a couple times for good measure.
Jerami Grant had a nice defensive game, but struggled with his shot and scored just seven. Defenses are really keying in on him, and he’s still trying to figure out how to adjust his approach, it seems.
I gotta say, these Raptors are talented — Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam are still real good — but this team, man, it’s bad. They’re in a tough spot not being able to play in Toronto at all this year, but they just looks like a team going nowhere.
Lastly, here’s your obligatory lottery update: both the Timberwolves and Rockets lost tonight, meaning the Pistons (13-33) are tied with Houston and 2.5 games behind 11-win Minnesota for top odds.
Detroit actually has the tiebreaker over Houston, so they currently sit second.
HBD to George Blaha