Comparing the Cavaliers to the Pistons in 2023-24

I was itching to do a comparison of the Pistons to a play-off team. I think that the best comparison to make might be the Cavaliers. Fun? Insightful? Imaginative? Unrealistic? Let's see what you think. Read on, and give me a chance, and then tell me what you think.

Point guard - Darius Garland vs Jaden Ivey - I'm moving Ivey into this spot not so much as I think Cunningham won't be the point guard as it's I just think the two players are more comparable in terms of skill or contribution level. Garland scored 21.6 ppg, contributed 2.7 rebounds, and 7.8 assists. With 3 years experience the 23 year-old did an outstanding job in my opinion establishing himself as a star. Ivey on the other hand was an excellent rookie, and is just 21 years-old. His stats were 16.3 ppg, 3.3 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. Ivey is bigger but both are quick agile players. I think there's quite a similarity, but Ivey has to continue to develop to match Garland.

Shooting guard - Donovan Mitchell vs Cade Cunningham - Since both are good ball handlers I think this is a fair comparison to make in terms of who is or can be the lead guard. Furthermore, both are the primary scoring options for their respective teams. Donovan was a massive scorer with a 28.3 average to compliment 4.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Cunningham as we all know barely played so his averages don't seem worthwhile to compare. However, I think it is possible that we see him have a bigger or more dominant impact on the team's offense that may emulate the role Mitchell had or has. Of course, Mitchell is 26 while Cunningham is just 21, so again maturity is a factor to be considered. Perhaps the fact that Cunningham is about 6 inches taller somewhere fits into the equation to his favor somewhere in the future.

Small forward - Isaac Okoro vs Bojan Bogdanovic - Okoro plays a far smaller role on the surface than Bogdanovic who was his team's leading scorer. Okoro posted 6.4 ppg, 2.5 rebounds, and 1.1 assists. Bogdanovic had 21.6 ppg, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists. How this position is manned in 2023 might prove to make this comparison less valid. I am inclined to think that Bogdanovic will play as first man off the bench as an immediate scoring option for Detroit next year. Of course this depends on Detroit drafting a player that is a better match to their young tandem at guard. At this time I'm inclined to like either Cam Whitmore. If this pans out, it would seem likely then to say the two teams again are very comparable.

Power forward - Evan Mobley vs Isaiah Stewart - Mobley seems to get far greater defensive recognition than Stewart but he his scoring also eclipses Stewarts as well. Mobley's stats were 16.2 ppg, 9.0 boards, and 2.8 assists. Stewart posted 11.3 ppg, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. It is possible Bogdanovic supplants Stewart in next year's lineup to allow Stewart to become an off the bench defensive stopper. Possibly combining Stewart and Bogdanovic is a way to match Mobley's contributions. Both Mobley and Stewart are 21 year-olds so development for both is also another factor to consider.

Center - Jarrett Allen vs Jalen Duren - Allen's 6 year age difference I think translates into more developed skills and, or execution prowess over the 19 year-old Duren. Allen's stats were 14.3 ppg, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists. Duren's rookie season delivered 9.1 ppg, 8.9 boards, and 1.1 assists. Of course, the Pistons also used James Wiseman, still just 22 years-old, and Marvin Bagley, 24 years-old. Both of these centers offered a bit more scoring, but lack the maturity and toughness Allen seems to offer.

The Bench - Chris LeVert, Ricky Rubio, Danny Green, and Cedi Osman were the key contributors to the Cav's relief corp. The Pistons in 2022-23 installed Killian Hayes in a starting role, but he should become the primary back-up in 2023-24 with perhaps Cory Joseph, Alec Burks, Isaiah Livers, and the aforementioned big men. LeVert probably separates himself from all of the players mentioned, but it is also arguable that Detroit can perhaps restructure their bench to be much better as a unit.

Maturity in terms of age and experience seems to be a big disparity. Cleveland's starters had a combined 16 years of experience. Detroit, had just 4 years spread over 4 of their starters, with Bogdanovic having 8, to perhaps make the difference seem less with a total of 12.

Defensive toughness and blocking shots seems to also be a key difference between the team. Perhaps the return of Cunningham, the draft, and added experience are all that is missing.

Size may compensate for scoring prowess to some extent. Obviously Mitchell, Garland, Mobley, and Allen performed at a very high level. Cunningham, Ivey, Duren, and Stewart could prove to use their size to greater advantage, but shooting might be the real difference maker between the teams.

Can a new coaching style or simply a new voice make a difference? Can another year of playing together make a difference? Can the return of Cunningham, a new young star, and the experience gained by Ivey and Duren over their rookie year make a real impact?

I like the veteran savvy and depth that seems to be developing for the Pistons second unit a lot. Can it really make a difference? Does Hayes, Burks, Bogdanovic, Bagley, and Wiseman become a uniquely deep second-team? Does Isaiah Livers develop to contribute more? Or, does perhaps something change to make Wiseman a starter and Duren or Bagley a better co-starter with him? The Pistons also have the 31st overall pick who could prove to be much more than just a space holder.

Although the teams' outcomes from 2022-23 were so disparate, this review of their players gives me some hope. I am also anxious to see how new coach Monty Williams starts to direct this team in his own way. I think Casey held things together during a painful rebuild, but a new voice has become needed.

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