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Pistons vs. Pelicans preview: The one where Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk return?

The Pistons might be at full strength for the first time in months as they host New Orleans

NBA: Detroit Pistons at New Orleans Pelicans Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The kids are really hitting their stride for the Detroit Pistons.

Cade Cunningham is making his claim for NBA Rookie of the Year, Saddiq Bey is scoring 30 points somewhat regularly, Isaiah Stewart just bodied Evan Mobley and Killian Hayes has seemed to find something that works coming off the bench.

Move over, boys, the adults are back. Maybe.

Jerami Grant, out since December, and Kelly Olynyk, out with COVID the past week, should be available tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons -2.5


The Pistons are favored to win a basketball game for the first time since Jan. 8 against the Orlando Magic. That’s pretty wild.

The return of Grant and Olynyk is the main reason for that. The interesting thing will be how they fit in — specifically Grant. We know how Olynyk slides in, he was pretty damn awesome in Sacramento against the Kings, and he should play a similar role off the bench tonight.

Grant, though, that’s the big question mark. It’s funny that the Detroit fanbase is spending time trying to fluff up Grant as a trade option for contending teams... yet they want him nowhere near their current team.

With that said, I think Dwane Casey sticks Grant right back back into the alpha role he occupied all of last season and early this season. You just hope he and Bey are staggered as much as possible considering Bey has been a different player since Grant went out.

Sometimes, there are just too many guys who want the rock in their hands when you have Grant, Cunningham, and Bey out there. It’s why Hayes ends up being so marginalized with that group. It’s a problem that needs solving.

The Pelicans come in as losers of four straight, including a choke job in Cleveland last night.

New Orleans is one of those teams — with star Zion Williamson injured — that feels lost in the worst part of the NBA. They want to be a playoff or play-in team, but they just aren’t good enough as is.

Jonas Valanciunas is still a mountain of a man, and the Pistons have always struggled with him dating back to his days with the Toronto Raptors. Brandon Ingram has really had a quiet breakout season, but he missed last night’s game and may not play tonight.

Outside of that... it’s just role players.

Josh Hart is one of my favorite players and I would love him in Detroit, but he makes a lot more sense on a great team than a bad one. Herb Jones, a second rounder out of Alabama, has been a draft steal as a rookie, but, like Hart, he’s just kind of a guy.

The Pistons should win this game tonight, but I can see some growing pains with Grant and Olynyk both returning tonight. Hopefully, Grant comes back and looks amazing.

I said Casey probably sticks him back into that primary scoring role, and that reason isn’t because he deserves it: it’s because Detroit has five games until the NBA Trade Deadline.

But let’s focus on the Pelicans before we jump back into throwing together Grant ideas in the Trade Machine.

Projected Lineups

New Orleans Pelicans (18-32)

Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Herbert Jones, Jaxon Hayes, Jonas Valanciunas

Detroit Pistons (12-37)

Cade Cunningham, Cory Joseph, Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Day

How do you think Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk will fit into the lineup tonight?