The season is still a month away, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t interest in the Detroit Pistons. With sports gambling now legal in over half of the United States, it feels like a good time to look at the Pistons not from an analytical perspective but through a gambling lens.
We’re going to look at some futures bets from a pair of sportsbooks: Barstool Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook, both with books in the downtown Detroit casinos. We’ll look at each of these futures from a Pistons angle as well as a league-wide perspective as we look for the best bet.
And when I say best bet, I mean best overall bet—not the safest. I’m looking for something that has odds longer than +1000. We’ve got to have a little bit of fun here, ya know?
2022 NBA Rookie of the Year
Best Overall Bet: Scottie Barnes at +1300 on FanDuel
Best Pistons Bet: Cade Cunningham at +250 on FanDuel
This is probably the bet that has the best chance at cashing. Cade Cunningham is an advanced prospect who, when surrounded by more than Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey, should thrive for Detroit. He’s the best all-around player in his class and his shooting ability makes him a perfect fit for today’s NBA. The odds aren’t amazing, but it’s a safe pick.
The dark horse for me is Scottie Barnes.
He should be a starter on a Toronto team that could snap out of the Tampa Raptors rut and make a playoff run. If Barnes defense is as good as advertised and he’s able to be the all-around threat he was offensively at FSU, he could be one of those intangibles-are-too-invaluable winners.
2022 Most Improved Player
Best Overall Bet: Ja Morant at +4000 on Barstool
Best Pistons Bet: Saddiq Bey at +4000 on Barstool
The Most Improved Player award almost always goes to a young player who takes a big step forward. That happens A LOT in the second year. So, it makes sense for Saddiq Bey to be a prime candidate. At +4000, you’re getting good value on one of last season’s best rookies. Cunningham is going to make his life so much easier, and I think he could show enough improvement to put up around 16-17 points and 5-6 rebounds per game.
The thing is… I’d RATHER bet on Isaiah Stewart here. We saw how beastly he was when he got the opportunity to start last season, and while he’s off the board now, if his name pops up on a book it might be good to jump on it.
I think he’s going to be the best second-year player on the Pistons this season.
However, the easy way to win here is a player taking a star turn. I can see Ja Morant (+4000) blowing up this season. After a bit of a sophomore slump, Morant has lost some of the shine from his rookie season despite leading the Grizzlies to the playoffs. If the team improves and Ja levels up statistically, he will be the easy choice.
2022 Regular Season MVP
Best Overall Bet: Trae Young at +2100 on FanDuel
Best Pistons Bet: Cade Cunningham at +19000 on FanDuel
There have been two men in NBA history to win MVP as rookies — Wilt Chamberlain and Wes Unseld. Cade ain’t winning MVP, but I wanted to include it on here just because it’s the first time since GRANT FREAKING HILL that you could even fantasize about the possibility of a Pistons player winning MVP at any point in their career.
The best bet is tough to nail down. I’m a fan of Trae Young at +2100. He’s the undisputed guy on that team, and if the Hawks can take the next step from postseason darlings to legit contenders for the top seed in the East, he’ll be the one getting the credit.
I’m also not against tossing something on LeBron at +1400. He controls his narrative, and with a revamped supporting cast he could win his fifth MVP. Now, he’d be the oldest player to ever do it, but if the old-and-funky Lakers are as good as some expect, I think it’s possible.
2022 Sixth Man of the Year
Best Overall Bet: Tyler Herro +3000 on FanDuel
Best Pistons Bet: Hamidou Diallo at +6500 on FanDuel
The last Piston to win this one: Corliss Williamson in 2002. I think with a career year, Hamidou Diallo could be a dark horse candidate. There isn’t room for him to start, meaning he’s solidly in the bench brigade. Hami is a scorer who plays a fun brand of basketball. With more consistency and a few highlight dunks, he can get enough eyeballs to build a case.
Kelly Olynyk (+5500) is also here, but I don’t see it. I think he starts sporadically and won’t be viewed as a true sixth man. It’s also very hard to win this as a big man these days.
The best bet, to me, is Tyler Herro at +3000. After capturing everybody’s attention during the Heat’s run to the Finals during the Bubble season, Herro was just OK last season. With Kendrick Nunn out of the picture, there is usage for a wiser and newly ripped Herro to absorb.
I think he takes his game to another level for a really good Heat team this season.
2022 NBA Championship Winner
Best Overall Bet: Denver Nuggets at +2000 on FanDuel
Best Pistons Bet: None.
Obviously, the Pistons are not winning a title this year. With +25000 odds, they are tied with the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic for the worst odds in the league.
It’s going to be a long time before a bet on Detroit to win it all is a smart one.
Seeing the Nuggets at +2000 feels like a really solid value though. Nikola Jokic is still incredible, Michael Porter Jr. is getting better every year, and Jamal Murray is back after missing all of last season with an ACL injury. He’s not an elite point guard in my eyes, but he’s real close to it. That’s a big add for a team that, really, only lost an aging Paul Millsap in free agency.
I don’t know if Denver will win it all, but I think they’re young enough that their internal growth and development — combined with value additions like free agent Jeff Green and draft pick Bones Hyland — might be enough to take them to another level.
TEAM TOTAL WINS
Best Overall Bet: Bulls under 41.5 wins at Barstool
Best Pistons Bet: Detroit over 25.5 wins at Barstool
These aren’t high-profit bets, but I wanted to throw out one last Pistons wager that actually has a chance to hit. I wonder sometimes how well Detroit would have finished last season had they not punted on the season with 1.5 months to go. I legitimately think they have the potential to be play-in good next year — which was 33 wins a year ago.
That was in a shortened season, so the floor will rise, but I still think 34-35 wins is possible for this team. Easy over as long as injuries don’t derail things, they’ll clear 25.5 wins (-110).
Now, I think the Bulls have cemented themselves into no-man’s land.
I know they had a flashy offseason, and I know the quartet of Zack LaVine, Demar DeRozan, Nik Vucevic and Lonzo Ball is a fun 2K lineup, but I’m not convinced that is the right combination to unlock 10 more wins than last year. Another factor is that the odds here are +103, which is rare to see on these team totals.
They’ll be around 39 wins — looking a lot like the Pistons during the SVG years.