This season has been a disaster for the Detroit Pistons, who have managed to win fewer than a dozen games with just 19 games left to go in the season. Their .159 winning percentage is pitiful, and they are an eye-popping 38 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference.

Despite the awful season that has more than likely had some fans turning off their TV and canceling NBA League Pass in disgust, there is still a reason for fans to watch the team through the end of the season. Even with the team's miserable performance this year, some players on the current roster will undoubtedly play key roles in the next competitive team that Detroit fields.

The games may be meaningless in terms of wins and losses, but the development of young players through the remainder of this season could pay dividends for years down the road. With that being said, let's take a closer look at three players Pistons fans should watch closely down the stretch of this season.

Jaden Ivey

The Pistons currently have one reliable offensive initiator — more on him later — but they need a second player they trust to take the pressure off their offensive star and keep defenses honest.

Three-point shooting will be Jaden Ivey's swing skill that will determine whether he is an average player or a potential star. He's currently averaging a shade under 35% from deep on 4.6 attempts per game. If Ivey can get his percentage up to 37% on six attempts per game, this would improve his counting stats while also stretching the court and putting more pressure on opposing defenses.

The young guard can play both on and off the ball and playing alongside a primary initiator will give him plenty of opportunities for spot-up threes. These are generally easier looks than shots off the dribble, which can further boost Ivey's efficiency. Hitting more shots from deep will also force defenses to respect his shot, opening up driving lanes for the former lottery pick to use his athleticism and get to the rim.

Two areas where the second-year player can improve are getting to the charity stripe and converting his free throws when he gets there. Ivey's shooting 75% from the line, which isn't horrible but could certainly stand to be better. If he can get up to the 80-85% range, it will do wonders for his efficiency and make him more comfortable attacking the rim. This would help the Pistons guard improve his free throw rates as well.

Just some back-of-the-napkin math to demonstrate how improved free throw shooting can help Ivey. he's currently averaging slightly over four attempts per game at a 75% clip. let's be generous and give him 3.5 points per game from the line. Improving his averages to 6.5 attempts at an 80% clip would boost his points per game from the line to 5.6. This relatively minor improvement would add two points per game to his average while improving his efficiency.

Jalen Duren

Similar to Ivey, one area in which Jalen Duren can improve is his free throw shooting. The young center is shooting 77% from the line this season, which in all honesty is not terrible for a big man. The problem comes in his free throw shooting volume.

Duren is only taking 2.6 free throws per game, and this is a number where he can certainly stand to improve. The goal for the former 13th overall pick should be working towards increasing his free throw attempts to 3.5 per game, which is not impossible with a slightly higher usage rate and strategic aggression.

The Pistons big man can't fully control his usage. However, what he can control is what he does with the ball once he has it. By pressing the issue and making more of an effort to go at defenders and fight through contact at the rim, he'll get to the line more often and increase both his scoring and his efficiency.

Duren is already a gifted rebounder but he can do more in this department. He's currently averaging a shade under 12 boards per game, which isn't bad. For a center, though, it would be ideal if he could average closer to 13 to 14 boards per outing.

Cade Cunningham

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) brings the ball up court against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at United Center.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Cade Cunningham has made another leap in the 2023-24 season, crossing the 20 points-per-game threshold for the first time in his career and doing so with increased efficiency. He is averaging career highs in free throws attempted per game, free throw percentage, and three-point percentage. He’s also just shy of his career high in three-pointers attempted per game.

Cunningham is currently averaging 5.4 shots per game from beyond the arc. Given that these are among the most efficient shots in basketball, he should make it a goal to average closer to seven per game. If he can do so while maintaining his current shooting percentage, that will do wonders for both his counting statistics and his efficiency. If he were to average 7.5 threes attempted per game and maintain his current shooting percentage, that alone would add nearly three points per game to his totals.

Cunningham is the most important player on the Pistons' roster. He was the number one overall pick for a reason, and as the lead facilitator, it is on his shoulders to keep the offense functioning. He also has the capability of being a lockdown defender, and a two-way player who can guard one through four while shouldering the majority of offensive creation responsibility is incredibly valuable.

Detroit still has work to do to build a competent roster around Cunningham, but ultimately the Pistons will go as far as their prized draft pick can take them. That's why Cade Cunningham is the most important young player on the Pistons for fans to watch as the team plays out the remainder of the current NBA season.