It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Far-Fetched Friday: Detroit Pistons Make the Playoffs in 2022
By: Jake Lofgren
The Detroit Pistons are currently on a streak of 12 straight seasons without a playoff series win. The last time the Pistons won a playoff game was back in the 2008 Conference Finals, against the Boston Celtics. Since then, the Pistons have lost 14 playoff games in a row, including being swept three times. Even in an Eastern Conference that is consistently slandered for being weak, the Pistons have failed to put together a team that could contend for a playoff win, let alone a championship.
Troy Weaver has only been the Pistons GM for a little over a year, and he is already beloved by Pistons fans. Ever since Weaver took over, the Pistons have had a clear direction of what they are trying to accomplish: Which is rebuilding.
A lot of fans around the league may hear that and wonder, "haven't the Pistons been rebuilding for almost a decade now?" Well, no, not really. The Pistons have gone through many failed experiments like the most recent Stan Van Gundy era around Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin.
Detroit is not a city that can attract superstars without already having a team set up to win championships, nor is it a city where some friends like Kyrie and KD would look to, just because they think it would be fun to hoop together. So, for Detroit to speed up the rebuilding process or get a franchise-changing talent of their own, they were always gonna have to get a little lucky.
Finally, and I mean finally, Detroit won a lottery.
And unless something completely unpredictable happens over the next month, Cade Cunningham will be a Detroit Piston, giving the franchise a clear franchise-altering piece to build around. I mean, let's look at the roster going into next season.
G- Killian Hayes
G- Cade Cunningham
F- Saddiq Bey
F- Jerami Grant
C- Isaiah Stewert
G- Saben Lee
G- Cory Joseph
F- Josh Jackson
F- Hamidou Diallo
C- Mason Plumlee
Cunningham is a fantastic player, and all but surely, that isn't enough to take a 20-52 team all the way to the playoffs.
That is very true, but Cade shouldn't be the only good addition this offseason. The Pistons may have/create enough cap to throw some money at another Jerami Grant type piece this summer.
Tim Hardaway Jr, Spencer Dinwiddie, or Montrez Harrell could all be that type of guy for the Pistons. On top of free agency and Cade Cunningham, the Pistons should expect more players already on the team to take steps forward. Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewert made All-Rookie teams and may not turn into stars, but they complement one another well.
Jerami Grant came second place in the Most Improved Player award, who says he can't take another step and become an All-Star.
Josh Jackson and Hamidou Diallo became two steals for the Pistons and could play vital roles off the bench. Killian Hayes could be crucial to the offense with his playmaking ability and not having all that responsibility fall on Cade or Jerami's shoulders. Then don't forget about Dwane Casey being the head coach, too. A former Coach of the Year and man that has had success leading teams to playoff appearances with fantastic records at the Raptors.
If there is one thing we learned from last year, it is also that the Eastern Conference is still very weak.
Yes, there are the Nets, Bucks, and 76ers, but that is only three playoff spots out of 8, and don't forget about the new play-in system that means ten teams technically make the playoffs. The Eastern Conference is currently in a place where the New York Knicks can get the 4th seed led by Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, and their potentially third-best player, Derrick Rose, dealt to the Knicks midseason from the Pistons.
The Hawks put together a team to try and compete for a playoff spot last offseason and now are randomly in the Eastern Conference Finals. Also, a rookie LaMelo Ball led Charlotte Hornets made the play-in game, too. The point is that making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference is almost as achievable as it has ever been.
Altogether this may still look like a very underwhelming squad, but it is a huge step in the right direction. Simply put, the Pistons roster can only go up from here. For the first time in a long time, the Pistons are built around young players and cap space. The opportunities for this team to improve going forward are endless. The Pistons should not rush the rebuild and make transactions to try and compete for a championship next season; that would be ridiculous.
Although, the idea of making the playoffs is very achievable without simultaneously ruining the process.
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