Why our guys differ on which player will break out

Free Press sportswriters answer the burning questions and make predictions about the Detroit Pistons and the 2022-23 NBA season:

Omari SankofaII

Optimistic, half-full glass view of the remodel and this season: Cade Cunningham takes a second leap and earns strong All-Star consideration, Jaden Ivey is having an encouraging rookie season and the supporting youngsters are living up to expectations. The Pistons win between 32 and 38 games – the perfect spot to build hype for the future and still be in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

Pessimistic, half-empty glass look: Cunningham looks more like a second banana than a franchise player, and Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart are stagnant. The Pistons fail to crack 30 wins, making the 2023 draft a crucial factor in the long-term health of the rebuild.

Breakout Players: Steward. He’s already one of the better bigs in the NBA when it comes to switching defensively. If his 3-point shooting is real, he will be in the top three on the list in minutes played.

Leading scorer, points per game: Cunningham, 22.7.

Most likely traded by the deadline: Alec Burk. His 3-point shooting can help any contender, and his contract ($10 million each for this season and next) should be flexible.

Play-In Tournament? Record and goal in East: They will miss the play-in and finish 13th in the East with a 31-51 record.

Conference finals East and West: Milwaukee via Boston; LA Clippers over Denver.

NBA Finals: LA Clippers over Milwaukee in seven.

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Shawn Windsor

Optimistic, half-full glass view of the remodel and this season: Cade Cunningham makes a move, Jaden Ivey adapts in the second half of the season, Isaiah Stewart hits corner 3 and the vet-youth combo turns into a tough game most nights resulting in a play-in push leads.

Pessimistic, half-empty glass look: Injuries, lack of shooting and disconnects on defense leave them in the low 20s for wins.

Breakout Players: Jaden Ivey is the obvious answer, but Stewart’s 3-ball and pick-and-roll defense reveal a reliable modern big in the making.

Leading scorer, points per game: Cunningham, 19.

Most likely traded by the deadline: Nerlen’s Noel.

Play-In Tournament? Record and goal in East: Nos. 25-57. 15th, which isn’t as terrible as it sounds – the east is deep.

Conference finals East and West: Brooklyn via Milwaukee, LA Clippers via Golden State.

NBA Finals: LA Clippers in six.

Carlos Monarrez

Optimistic, half-full glass view of the remodel and this season: With the young newcomers in the squad, everything fits right away. Jaden Ivey is the missing component, Cade Cunningham’s added strength makes him an All-Star, and the Pistons squeak into the play-in tournament.

Pessimistic, half-empty glass look: Cunningham is off to a slow start hurting his chemistry with Ivey, the much-needed 3-point shooting the Pistons are counting on from Isaiah Stewart is faltering, injuries are rife and a terrible start will derail the season.

Breakout Players: It has to be Ivey, who has shown his speed and passing game preseason and clearly looks like he not only belongs to the NBA soil but also works well with Cunningham and in Dwane Casey’s system.

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Leading scorer, points per game: Cunningham, 19.4.

Most likely traded by the deadline: Bojan Bogdanovic is on an expiring contract and if the Pistons haven’t shown enough by deadline to look like a contender – they won’t – then the veteran’s move seems like a logical play.

Play-In Tournament? Record and goal in East: No play-in appearance, but they make a big move with a 35-47 finish in the Hard East.

Conference finals East and West: Golden State via Denver, Milwaukee via Boston.

NBA Finals: Golden State over Milwaukee in seven.

Jeff Seidel

Optimistic, half-full glass view of the remodel and this season: Everything is falling into place, the Pistons’ young core is learning to win together, Jaden Ivey wins Rookie of the Year, and this team is fun, exciting, and pushing for (but not getting there) the playoffs. Hey, you said optimism, so you get a full glass.

Pessimistic, half-empty glass look: injuries. This can nullify a rebuild and delay the progress of a young core.

Breakout Players: Saddiq Bey.

Leading scorer, points per game: Bey, 20.

Most likely traded by the deadline: No one. This team will improve and win just enough to avoid a dump-off, but the streak will fade. Yes, still tired of this bullish mode and trades.

Play-In Tournament? Record and goal in East: No play-in tournament. 35-47, 12.

Conference finals East and West: Milwaukee via Philadelphia in six; Golden State over LA Clippers in six.

NBA Finals: Golden State over Milwaukee in seven.

This article originally appeared in the Detroit Free Press: Which Detroit Pistons Players Will Break Out in 2022-23?

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