1 Pistons player in danger of losing starting job in 2022-23 NBA training camp
The Detroit Pistons will convene for training camp in a few days to formally begin their preparations for the 2022-23 season.
With the level of talent on the Pistons’ roster, a lot of players will battle for minutes, so there will be plenty of exciting clashes to witness.
Truth be told, with some new faces on the roster, nearly every position is up for grabs. This is especially true in the starting lineup, where just two definite locks are in place for opening night.
Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey are those locks, and arguably Marvin Bagley III should be there as well. Of course, we’re not sure if he’ll play center or power forward. That leaves two positions open, with several different athletes vying for them.
With those in mind, here is the Detroit Pistons player who is in danger of losing his starting job during the 2022-23 NBA training camp.
Isaiah Stewart brings a lot to the table for the Pistons. Even if he’s undersized, he played a lot of center last season, and he might play that same role again. He’s also very physical and won’t back down from mixing it up even against the game’s biggest stars.
LeBron James has been suspended for one game for an altercation with Isaiah Stewart during Sunday's game between the LA Lakers and Detroit Pistons.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) November 23, 2021
In the 2021-22 season, Isaiah Stewart averaged 8.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game. He started all 71 games in which he played.
Having said that, the Detroit Pistons may go in a variety of routes at either the 4 or 5 slot for the coming season. Recall that they did not replace Jerami Grant with a typical PF.
However, the struggle will largely come down to size and fit, as well as whether the Pistons want to get more shooting into the starting lineup.
Marvin Bagley III is the current favorite to start. His game is perfect for the 4 spot, but he also has the size to play the 5.
Bagley can start alongside Stewart, who is also striving to improve his 3-point shooting this season. Last year, Bagley shot just 29.1 percent from beyond the arc while Stewart was a bit better at 33.0 percent. Of course, three-point shooting is not either guy’s bread-and-butter. Still, if they can improve in that aspect, head coach Dwane Casey certainly won’t complain.
One can argue that it doesn’t really matter whether Stewart or Bagley III is the center. Keep in mind that when the two were on the floor together last season, Bagley played more in the paint and Stew played more outside of it.
The guy who can slide into either guy’s starting spot is Isaiah Livers. This is especially if the Pistons try to go small. This might also be the greatest method for the Pistons to spread its shooters. Take note that having Livers, Alec Burks, and Kelly Olynyk (three of Detroit’s finest 3-point shooters) all come off the bench may not be the best use of their resources.
Remember that Livers had a solid season last year. He hit 1.4 triples per game last season at a 42.2 percent clip. For sure, his floor spacing makes him vital for a squad that shot 32.6 percent as a team from three in 2021-22. That was the second-worst figure in the NBA. Livers will also fit into any lineup if he can consistently defend effectively. To wit, his summer league play hinted that he may be a difference-maker on the defensive end.
If this happens, the Pistons could move either Stewart or Bagley to the bench to play with Olynyk, Burks, and Hayes, spreading the shooting around a little.
And then they also have rookie Jalen Duren, the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft. He is another athlete with significant talent on the team. Duren is a terrific athlete who should have an impact on the game with his athleticism right away. On the other hand, he will just turn 18 on opening night. Inexperience will be his Achilles’ Heel.
Coach Dwane Casey will have a lot of alternatives next season, and some of them will be played out throughout training camp and the preseason. That could lead to some exciting training camp battles, particularly for spots in the starting lineup.