The Detroit Pistons are struggling to begin the year, and nowhere is that more acutely felt than on the bench, where several key contributors are unavailable. Detroit began the year without the services of veterans Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel and young big man Marvin Bagley III.
The Pistons are averaging just 25 points per game off their bench, which ranks 27th in the NBA. With those key pieces out, Detroit has been forced to rely on a heavy dose of Cory Joseph, Hamidou Diallo and Kevin Knox.
It seems reinforcements could be arriving soon. Backup (or maybe starting?) center Marvin Bagley III and backup (or maybe starting?) shooting guard Alec Burks are getting one-on-one work in practice and should return soon, per coach Dwane Casey.
Same situation for Alec Burks, who is several weeks past his re-evaluation date.— Omari Sankofa II (@omarisankofa) October 30, 2022
Their return could have a big impact on Detroit’s rotation, including the starting lineup. potentially impact the Pistons. With the Pistons struggling mightily on both ends of the floor everything should be on the table.
Detroit could opt for a two-big starting lineup of Marvin Bagley and Isaiah Stewart to keep Stewart’s defense in the lineup but also add another plus rebounder and a player with verticality in Bagley.
That would force one of Bojan Bogdanovic or Saddiq Bey to the bench. Bey is Detroit’s iron man at small forward and Bogdanovic has been the team’s best shooter and best overall offensive player this season.
It would also allow Duren to get regular minutes as the backup center, and playing Duren and Bagley together seems like a nonstarter, as both doing almost all their damage in the paint.
Burks could add some serious scoring punch to Detroit’s bench, but the team might also opt to install him as a starter at shooting guard. Casey has talked recently about trying to figure out the best way to stagger both his young building blocks in Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. He’s particularly interested in a way to allow Ivey to maximize his skills on the floor and get the ball in his hands.
Noel is the final missing piece, and that one is a bit of a mystery. He’s been a healthy scratch for a few games now and hasn’t seen time on the floor despite Detroit’s struggle defensively inside, especially late in games.
Once Burks and Bagley are healthy, how would you use them in Detroit’s rotation? Would you bring them off the bench or would you opt for a more significant shakeup?