Pistons Mailbag – THURSDAY 8th December

With five players under the age of 21 in prominent roles, what would the Pistons want to add alongside their founding? That gets us going in this week’s edition of Piston’s Mailbag.

Darrell (Detroit): If the Pistons landed second pick in the draft, they would pick Scoot Henderson or maybe trade down and pick Brandon Miller going from three lights. I have a hard time imagining the Pistons with four starting caliber point guards when they are light on the wings.

Langlois: But what if Troy Weaver believes Henderson is really Derrick Rose’s second coming and sees Miller just as an ordinary wing whose top is an average starter? And to be clear, an average starter means a really good basketball player. But with the second pick in the draft and the chance to draft someone who could one day be a multiple All-NBA team contender and maybe a legitimate MVP candidate, are you passing that on because of your depth map? No you do not. Also, and this is only a side issue in the overall picture, the size of Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes really dampens the argument that the Pistons don’t have room for another guard in their rotation. The Pistons could very easily build lineups with all three of Cunningham, Hayes and Jaden Ivey in them. If you have another Dynamic Warden on the list, you can play three of them together for most of the game and have plenty of gameplay for all four. Ivey’s athleticism and length allow him to protect some as well.

Langlois: The guess at opening your question is correct, although I suspect it’s not quite as absolute as it was three years ago, or even went into last year’s draft. But the Pistons have a number of building blocks today. Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes — the version they’ve seen over the past month that came close to confirming his draft slot and Troy Weaver’s vision of what he could be — give the Pistons three guards to backcourt with enough positional Crew Versatility at least two of them can guard at least three positions. Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley III give them three great men. That leaves the obvious gap on the wing. Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Livers give you a few long-term candidates. Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks are two veterans who make them whole in the short term, but this is where it makes sense for the Pistons to seek help if their draft slot matches the talent available. It wouldn’t be enough for the Pistons to ignore an apparent talent gap if there was another Guard Weaver project that had all-star potential, I don’t suspect. There are at least a handful of wing candidates that could be legitimate top-10 picks in the 2023 draft. If the Pistons end up in the lottery and don’t make a top-two pick — where the overwhelming favorites for 1-2 are Big Man (Victor Wembanyama) and Point Guard (Scoot Henderson) — then there’s a good chance they are. I add a wing. That makes the most sense on paper. We’ll see how it goes as the draft class gets more of a focus.

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@ck2art/IG: Who is the first Weaver-era first-rounder to trade?

Langlois: Weaver’s had six first-round picks in three years, including three acquired picks at 13, 16 and 19 — pretty amazing work given what was given up to get them. He has taken Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. If we use the elimination process, I think this is where Cunningham gets the least action. What we saw last season and the few weeks this season before he was sidelined with the shin injury confirmed the faith Cunningham supporters had in him to be that guy. Who would be second on this list is much more sinister. The Pistons love Stewart’s character and potential. They see him as a fundamental representative of all that the franchise is meant to be. I would give it a tight nod for being number 2 on this list. They have very strong feelings for Bey in the same way. They are over the moon with the athleticism that Ivey and Duren have added to the roster. It’s too early to tell just how big of an impact both players will have, but they’ve shown enough promise that you wouldn’t rule out true stardom for either of them. I think it’s fair to say that Killian Hayes would get the most votes if we did a fan poll on your question. But Weaver and Dwane Casey were in his corner at every turn, and Hayes – still only 21, remember – had a month where he looked down the line to be a legitimate starting-quality point guard. Given his already obvious playstyle/vision and defensive abilities, if Hayes can continue to put down 3-pointers with an above-average clip and hit mid-range jump shots like he did, these represent a valuable skill. I don’t think it’s in the backcourt congestion — Pistons fans of any given vintage know how easy it is to find prominent roles for three excellent guards — but if I had to provide an answer to your question, it would be Hayes or Ivey, I suppose , given that Cunningham is going nowhere.

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@husali26/IG: Will Cade play this season?

Langlois: I don’t know if anyone, including Cade Cunningham, knows the answer to that question at this point. Dwane Casey answered questions about Cunningham carefully and clearly. This is a decision in Cunningham’s hands, with expert advice. If the decision is to see if rest will adequately treat the left tibia injury, possibly a stress fracture, although not definitive, as opposed to surgery, then she must be given enough time to consider the benefit of rest. Surgery, according to credible reports from experts speaking generally of stress fractures and without direct insight into Cunningham’s condition, would most likely end his season. It is also considered to be the safest way to correct stress fractures over the long term. From a thousand yards away, it looks like one of those 50-50 calls that take time and information to optimally design an answer. How long a reasonable period of time for this determination is anyone can only guess.

@LionsOverLambs: The Pistons are designed to hold KillaHaze for the long term. Every year I see a more dynamic player. I would hate to see us send off another young player just to see him come to his own somewhere else ie Kris Middleton, Christian Wood, Spencer Dinwiddie.

Langlois: They have exercised his fourth-year option, which effectively puts them in control of Hayes’ destiny during the 2024-25 season. He’s probably not going anywhere in the short term. The Hayes we saw last month – he went into Wednesday averaging 11.5 points and 6.2 assists while shooting 43 percent both overall and from the 3-point line, and then had a 17 -Scoring with 12 assists in New Orleans – is well on his way to becoming the player Troy Weaver envisioned. Hayes doesn’t have to average 18-20 points to be a good starting point guard. If he scores efficiently, takes down 3-point shots at or above the league average, defends at a high level, and distributes the ball effectively with his good vision and passing skills, that’s a valuable player. Pretty much every franchise has seen players succeed elsewhere, but I would separate Wood from Middleton and Dinwiddie in your example. Weaver used Wood in the sign-and-trade deal that gave the Pistons 16th Pick he used to take for Isaiah Stewart. Would you rather let Isaiah Stewart do what he’s doing at 21 or Wood, 27? I suspect Weaver isn’t losing any sleep over this deal.

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