It takes the right combination of ingredients to make a satisfying meal. Some dishes are ready to serve in minutes, but the best meals often take a little longer.
The same can be said for a basketball team, especially like the Pistons, looking to jump into the Eastern Conference.
To make it all work, the team needs a realistic schedule and a specific mix of the right elements, like a star player, a primary No. 2 option, a lockdown defender, dedicated role players and a postman. X – a player who could have a breakout season.
Health, of course, is always a bonus.
The Pistons are about to embark on Year 3 of their promising rebuild under the leadership of general manager Troy Weaver. After a productive offseason, the roster looks to be in a better position to win more games than last year’s 23-win campaign.
Cade Cunningham is the team’s rising star and Saddiq Bey proved last season he can light up the scoreboard any night. As long as this duo continues to improve at their current rate, the Pistons should be better than they were a season ago.
In order to take the next step and possibly compete for a spot in the NBA play-in tournament, they will need significant help from some of the other players.
Here are three Pistons players who look set for a breakout season:
Marvin Bagley III
The first chapter of Bagley’s NBA career began with the Sacramento Kings, the franchise that drafted him with the second overall pick in 2019.
The 6-foot-11 tall man suffered multiple injuries and looked inconsistent in his three seasons with the Kings, but his production increased when he was traded to Detroit at last season’s trade deadline. on an expiring contract.
Bagley has averaged 9.3 points and 7.2 rebounds in his last 30 games with the Kings. He increased his scoring average to 14.6 points and added 6.8 boards in 18 games with the Pistons. He also hit career highs in field goal percentage (55.5%) and became reliable around the rim with his two-point field goal percentage (62.4%).
His brief stint was productive enough that the Pistons re-signed Bagley to a three-year, $37 million deal this summer.
With more stability and a chance to compete for a spot in the starting lineup, Bagley could be in line to have a career season.
Bagley served as a lob threat and a player who can find different ways to score when established inside the paint. His range of hooks and ability to finish with both hands proved beneficial to Detroit when they needed a low bucket.
If Bagley plays high inside the paint and attracts multiple defenders, it will spread the ground and allow Detroit to get open looks from 3. The question that remains is whether these players will overthrow these looks open, especially since the Pistons shot 32.6% from range last season.
Over the past two seasons, Hamidou Diallo could be counted on for 11 points and 5 rebounds per game – his averages since the Pistons acquired him in a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The former Slam-Dunk champion is known for his athleticism and defensive versatility. At 6-5, Diallo often finds ways to attack the basket and can end up in half-court or on counter-attacks.
The next obvious level in Diallo’s evolution is his 3-point shooting. A career 27% shooter from beyond the arc, Diallo has the potential to become one of the Pistons’ key players if he can knock down shots when open.
Last week at his annual basketball camp, Diallo acknowledged the talk around his game and said he went to the gym to improve his skills.
“We hear the chatter; we hear what people want. We hear what the world thinks, so we hear everything,” Diallo told the Detroit News. “I’m just in the lab trying to get better every day, trying to build that chemistry with this young team coming in and most importantly trying to do everything I can on the pitch to help us win games. That’s the biggest goal.”
Diallo played 20 games for Detroit during the 2019-20 season and made 39% of his 3-pointers (15 of 33). If he can produce similar numbers over an entire season, that would bode well for the Pistons.
The Pistons have bolstered their depth at the wing position with the addition of Alec Burks and Kevin Knox, and the team will have a healthy Isaiah Livers when training camp begins next month.
Diallo has the potential to be a primary scoring option, as he proved repeatedly last season, but if he can develop into a competent shot-stopper it will boost the Pistons’ chances of picking up a few more wins.
Pistons defensive anchor Isaiah Stewart gave some insight into what he was working on in his two Summer League games last month.
Detroit’s stretch center extends his game to the perimeter and looks determined to show off his ability to knock down 3-pointers.
Stewart went 5 of 9 deep against the Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards, including back-to-back triples in the final moments of Detroit’s win over Washington.
Stewart made 15 3-pointers as a rookie and 21 last season. He could end up somewhere in the 35-40 range if he tries more triples this season.
If Stewart can take the next step as a 3-point shooter from the stoppage, it will allow Detroit’s multitude of guards to use him in pick-and-pop situations. His confidence to take the deep 3 also makes him a threat to defenders running away from the basket, allowing Bagley or rookie great Jalen Duren to work on the inside.
Stewart’s bread and butter is the defensive end and his effort and intensity on this side of the court will always be something he relies on. He averaged 8.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in his sophomore season last year, as well as 1.1 blocks per game.
However, adding the 3-ball as a regular part of his offensive repertoire could be the icing on the cake for the Pistons.