It was just another season of productive basketball for Cory Joseph. While Detroit Pistons fans are always anxious to write him off in favor of the team’s next, shiniest object, Joseph just hangs out in the background waiting for his opportunity. Because once you give it to him, he’s going to take advantage of it.
All Joseph did last year was play 1,600 minutes while shooting a career-high 41% from 3, have the most efficient season of any of Detroit’s guards, and do it all while maintaining a sparkly 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.
When asked to play off the ball and shoot, he does it and does it well. When pressed into the starting lineup and starting a career-high 39 games, he does it and does it well. You need him to run the offense? No problem. Still, Pistons fans seem desperate to look for help elsewhere.
And there are yet more dangling keys jangling in front of the fan base’s face distracting them from the wholly whelming competence of Joseph. Killian Hayes has a new shot! Jaden Ivey is an elite athlete with Detroit ties! When those players inevitably struggle, and they will even if they turn in good seasons, Joseph will be there to fill in the gaps and do whatever the team needs.
That doesn’t mean Joseph is a perfect, or even great, player. He will always struggle on defense, and too many of his turnovers are unforced. But there is a reason this 6-foot-3 off-guard has carved out an 11-year career and counting.
Know Your Role, Cory Joseph
It’s pretty simple for Joseph — just do you. Whatever anybody else isn’t doing, fill that gap. If the Pistons are struggling to run the offense, take the reins and get them in the proper set. If it’s a veteran-laden lineup with stationary 3-point shooters, then push the ball up the floor and try and force the defense to collapse and give them an easy look. If you’re playing alongside young Hayes or Ivey, just give them an outlet if they’re struggling with pressure or camp out on the perimeter and be available for the catch-and-shoot.
The Pistons were 30th in effective field goal percentage last year, so they will need Joseph’s efficient shooting. They were 23rd in assists-to-turnovers per game, so they’ll need Joseph to facilitate while limiting mistakes. Joseph could play alongside Cunningham, Ivey, Hayes, Diallo, Burks. Who the heck knows? The team is so full of question marks that the fans should take comfort in at least one of the answers is Joseph. The question just isn’t terribly sexy—Who can the Pistons rely on for 20-plus good minutes per night at the guard position?
But Joseph is the kind of player you need in between those Ivey dunks and Hayes getting hot from the perimeter. Because there are going to be off nights—plenty of them. And that is when you’re going to look over and see that Joseph has 11 points, 5 assists, 1 turnover and hit a pair of threes.
And then you’ll go back to hoping he’s traded because he drives you absolutely insane any time he is on the floor. Fandom, it’s weird, y’all.