• The Detroit Pistons had the worst record in the league this season. There’s no sugarcoating that plain fact and it’s no better that this team lacks a head coach now that Dwane Casey has transitioned to an office role. So what does this incumbent coach stand to inherit, aside from the best odds to land Victor Wembanyama in a loaded 2023 NBA Draft? These losses have to amount to something eventually and a big win at the draft lottery would be a major step in the right direction.

    How’d It Go?

    After posting the worst record in the league, the Pistons are bound for a top pick in the NBA Draft. No matter what the lottery holds for the Pistons, they are guaranteed to pick from 1-to-5 in June. That suits the team’s overall composition pretty well. After all, top pick Cade Cunningham will return next season to a roster that features six other former lottery picks, although Alec Burks no longer fits the “prospect” label. The results aren’t there yet but GM Troy Weaver has certainly done his part to add high-potential prospects to a squad on a long-term timeline. It now falls to those prospects — Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, James Wiseman, Killian Hayes and Marvin Bagley III — to keep up with Cunningham on what seems like a guaranteed ascent to stardom. There’s a lot of positional overlap with that group of three centers and two point guards. Bagley and Duren dealt with injuries that kept that from being more apparent, but there was no hiding from that truth once the question of whether Duren or Wiseman should start became topical. Both men were part of the first five over the final stretch of the season but there was an imbalance in playing time by the end of those games that suggests an impermanence to that arrangement.

    Key players like Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Stewart don’t come with the same blue chip appeal of their aforementioned teammates but at 28-plus minutes per game each this season, they’ll be the ones that the prospects will have to outwork in practice and games in order to earn a greater role. Though it’s fair to suspect that one or both could be a casualty of Weaver’s relatively trade-heavy early career with the Pistons — Bogdanovic was on the market at the trade deadline — they are the best floor-spacers at their respective positions. On a squad that was in the bottom-10 for 3-pointers made, there will have to be some careful consideration for how to replace that value. Every single non-Cunningham lottery prospect the Pistons currently have rostered is maximized by shooters. Bigs like Bagley, Duren and Wiseman operate best in the paint but neither Hayes nor Ivey has become dangerous enough from range to give them that space. In fact, they may prefer to be putting pressure on rim protectors themselves. Although he struggled through a shoulder injury this season, third-year big Stewart seemed to be a better fit at power forward alongside the blue chip bigs. Continued improvement from range helps Stewart to stand out both as a valuable role player and potential fantasy contributor.

    Weaver has professed his confidence in former second round pick Isaiah Livers as a part of the team’s future on the wing on countless occasions. That’s likely how a similar player — Saddiq Bey — ended up an Atlanta Hawk as part of a four-team midseason trade. That also happens to be the deal that brought Wiseman to town. Shipping out a high-minute swingman created a minutes vacuum that Eugene Omoruyi and RJ Hampton would capitalize on after joining the team later in the season, but unfortunately, those lesser-known guards hardly got to share the court with another intriguing player auditioning for perimeter minutes: Hamidou Diallo. Finding diamonds in the rough seemed to be the mission for Weaver and it’s the best way to tell the story for a Pistons team that had way more moral victories than actual ones. 

    Veterans like Bogdanovic, Burks and Cory Joseph kept the ship as steady as they could for the Pistons this season, but none of them are the sort of player that could save this squad from finishing last in field goal percentage or bottom-10 in assists, free throw percentage, points, rebounds, turnovers and 3-point percentage. It’s fair to say that a 12-game season by Cunningham was a contributor to this but it remains clear that this team has infinite room to grow. What remains to be seen is which — if any — of the prospects will assert themselves next season and who is going to be taking over for Casey on the sidelines to push this team to the next level.


    At the conclusion of the season, Casey announced he would step down after five seasons as head coach of the Pistons. Over that time, the team had a 121-263 record and hardly inspired fear in anyone around the league. Given the talent pool he has been working with, it’s hardly fair to lay all of those losses at Casey’s feet. 

    While the veteran coach wasn’t a dynamic in-game manager, Casey did well on the development front and didn’t shy away from heaping responsibilities on his young players. Ivey got all the minutes he could handle in his first year as a pro at slightly more than 31 minutes a night and it seemed like Duren would be close behind until Wiseman was added and Bagley was back in the mix. Casey still deserves kudos for his part in helping the league’s youngest player to compete alongside much more experienced men.

    It’s hard to judge how Casey performed in this season or over his Pistons tenure as a whole. The team wasn’t very competitive and the rotations got a bit messy at times, but one thing remained clear throughout: Casey and Weaver were on the same page. That is surely part of the reason he is staying in-house after his exit as coach. Casey was given a pool of young players and directed to use as many of them as possible as often as possible. If that was the mission, then it was a successful one. The next coach will be asked to do the same thing and the franchise will be extremely fortunate if they find one as agreeable in this mission as Casey was. 

    The Players

    Cade Cunningham
    PG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 12 12 33.3 7.8 18.7 41.5 3.0 3.6 83.7 1.4 5.1 27.9 19.9 6.2 6.0 0.8 0.6 3.3
    21-22 DET 64 64 32.6 6.7 16.1 41.6 2.2 2.6 84.5 1.8 5.7 31.4 17.4 5.5 5.6 1.2 0.7 3.7

    ADP: 32/24 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 372/384  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 81/139 (8/9-cat)

    What do you say about a guy that played 12 games? Fans know Cunningham as the top pick in a loaded 2021 NBA Draft and eventual front-runner for Rookie of the Year. We’re not far past that point and little has changed with the 6’6” playmaker. With such a small sample size, it’s hard to say if he broke new ground in Year Two.

    On a per-game basis, there was a lot to like with Cunningham’s numbers. The sophomore produced above-average marks in points, boards, assists and free throw percentage while nearly making the cut with treys, steals and blocks. Cunningham is a well-rounded player that should be able to build on these numbers in the 2023-2024 season and beyond. A season-ending shin surgery in December left him on the outside of the top-100 in 9-cat leagues and Cunningham’s ADP will surely suffer for it. Managers should pay extra close attention to the offensive talent the Pistons surround Cunningham with as he enters the next year, as his field goal percentage is the only thing holding him back from earning his early-round valuation at fantasy drafts in 2022.

    Bojan Bogdanovic
    SF, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 59 59 32.1 7.3 14.9 48.8 4.5 5.1 88.4 2.5 6.0 41.1 21.6 3.8 2.6 0.6 0.1 2.3
    21-22 UTA 69 69 30.9 6.1 13.4 45.5 3.2 3.8 85.8 2.6 6.8 38.7 18.1 4.3 1.7 0.5 0.0 1.7
    20-21 UTA 71 71 30.8 5.6 12.8 44.1 3.2 3.6 87.6 2.5 6.4 39.0 17.0 3.9 1.9 0.6 0.1 1.7

    ADP: 120/134 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 116/129  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 86/111 (8/9-cat)

    In the analytics era of basketball, it’s common knowledge that a 3-pointer is the most valuable shot in the game. Enter Bojan Bogdanovic: the sweet-shooting Croatian fresh off several seasons of high-level play for a routinely competitive team. Even though he’s now 34 years old, Bogdanovic continues to play at an extremely high level and actually raised his scoring average by 3.5 points a night since coming to town, along with notable spikes in assists and both shooting percentages as well.

    Bogdanovic’s age is doing some heavy lifting in dragging the average age of the team to par with the rest of the league. Players such as Bogdanovic on a development-focused team like the Pistons might not ever have a sense of security. The 6’7” forward is one of five players currently rostered that are over the league average age of 26 years old and it’s fair to question if he’ll be spacing the floor elsewhere soon. Whether over the offseason or by next February, it seems like Bogdanovic’s time with the Pistons may be limited after he spent most of this season on the trade market as Weaver tries to stock the cupboard with assets.

    Regardless of where he calls home next year, managers should expect Bogdanovic to hold steady as a standard league contributor for points, treys and free throws. His year-end valuation matches his ADP and Bogdanovic’s game is clearly aging very well, so be sure to look for him when progressing to the later rounds of standard league drafts next year.

    Jalen Duren
    C, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 67 31 24.9 3.9 5.9 64.8 1.4 2.3 61.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 9.1 8.9 1.1 0.7 0.9 1.4

    ADP: 140/141 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 145/140  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 142/133 (8/9-cat)

    In a sense, you could say that Duren is the baby of the league. As the youngest player, there is certainly a sense of truth to that notion. However, Duren is a behemoth by any standard and already stands out as one of the most imposing men in the NBA. Though it’s not uncommon for men to be remarkably lithe and quick at Duren’s age, it’s still noteworthy to see a 6’11” pivot move around the court, get up for lobs or putbacks and show off improving footwork.

    Anyone who read his scouting report knew what Duren could produce in the NBA. It was more a matter of if or when the post-oriented big could start to block shots, collect boards and dunk the ball as often as possible for the Pistons. Only Mitchell Robinson had a higher percentage of shots that were dunks and Duren actually had more in total, which made him one of the best field goal percentage producers in fantasy basketball. Further, he’s already within one point and board of a double-double average. Though he’s swatting less than a shot per night, Duren demonstrated a proclivity in this area and was still at an above-average mark nonetheless. It is certainly true that he has the physicality to anchor a defense in the post and any improvement in blocks would bring him to the mid-level valuation of peers like the aforementioned Robinson or Clint Capela. Needless to say, it’s fair to expect that Duren won’t go undrafted in nearly as many leagues in his sophomore year versus his rookie campaign.

    Although his per-game valuation ended in a comparable range to his draft position, Duren showed far too much upside as a potential multi-category specialist to be overlooked as the number of high-potential picks thins out later in drafts. Expect him to threaten for a top-100 placement once people reflect on what he has already accomplished at a young age and without a star playmaker to share the court with.

    Jaden Ivey
    SG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 74 73 31.1 5.5 13.3 41.6 3.6 4.8 74.7 1.6 4.7 34.3 16.3 3.9 5.2 0.8 0.2 3.2

    ADP: 135/117 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 126/212 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 162/276 (8/9-cat)

    Ivey wound up getting drafted by a franchise in a city that he has deep family ties to. It should come as no surprise that he seemed immediately comfortable in the league. Ivey only missed double-digit points twice over the first 20 games as he started his career in a featured role with the starters. As with most young guards, there were some major efficiency concerns with Ivey as he continued to adapt to the speed, physicality and increased defensive pressures of the NBA. However, the rookie immediately filled up the stat sheet with solid rebounds for a guard, above-average assists and a proclivity for scoring that had yours truly feeling proud for labeling him a future three-level scorer in last year’s draft notes.

    Ivey’s next coach is going to have to figure out how to get him enough on-ball time while not taking those opportunities away from backcourt mates like Cunningham or Hayes. Based on his rookie results and his top-tier athleticism, Ivey should be able to answer the call. The Purdue alum was splashing multiple treys a night by the end of the year and certainly has the combined speed and quickness to be a terrifying off-ball cutter. As an incumbent starter, there should be no doubt that the minutes will continue to be there in steady doses for Ivey, so his short-term prospects hinge on how well his shot develops over the offseason. Ivey generated tons of free throws, so improving on his subpar results there will be paramount. As opposed to his field goal percentage and turnovers — which were both remarkably poor — Ivey’s results from the free throw line aren’t going to be dependent on the amount of help he has while trying to initiate offense for one of the league’s worst offensive teams. 

    With an ADP outside the top-100, some notable efficiency deficiencies and a soon-to-return high-usage backcourt mate in Cunningham, Ivey’s prospects for the upcoming season might best be described as a coin-flip. The talent and opportunity will be there but neither of those things are a guarantee of fantasy value. It may be safest to predict that Ivey stays the course and produces another season with averages similar to what he gave us in Year One. Despite the late season scoring outburst, it is important to note that Ivey was taking about six more shots a night around that time and such opportunities will be few and far between on a fully-healthy Pistons squad in the middle of a season. Name value might ensure that his ADP stays the same or rises, but if this season is any indication, managers that aren’t planning a multi-category punt will be cautious when Ivey’s name gets closer to the top of their list.

    Killian Hayes
    PG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 76 56 28.3 4.0 10.7 37.7 1.2 1.5 82.1 1.1 3.8 28.0 10.3 2.9 6.2 1.4 0.4 2.3
    21-22 DET 65 39 25.1 2.7 7.0 38.3 0.9 1.1 77.8 0.7 2.5 26.2 6.8 3.2 4.2 1.2 0.5 1.7
    20-21 DET 25 17 25.6 2.7 7.8 35.1 0.5 0.6 80.0 0.7 2.7 26.9 6.6 2.8 5.4 1.0 0.4 3.2

    ADP: 160/141 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 95/126  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 131/169 (8/9-cat)

    This was purportedly a make-or-break season for Hayes after unsuccessfully auditioning for the starting point guard job in his first two years. Though we did not yet know what the future held, the Pistons opened the year with a ball-dominant wing in Cunningham after spending the fifth overall pick on another point guard in Ivey. Managers were justifiably skeptical of investing much hope in a mostly-unproven guard with a seriously concerning shot diet and a penchant for turnovers at the start of the season and Hayes’ place in the team pecking order did not help. All of this was reflected in his ADP at the start of the 2022-2023 season and Hayes was widely available on waiver wires at the start.

    The subtext to everything above is that things did not happen as expected: Hayes took the next step forward in his career while turning a slight minutes boost into increases in points, treys, assists, steals and free throw percentage over last year. The 6’5” guard started the season as expected with low minutes and poor results. However, his breakout began the moment Cunningham was sidelined and Hayes claimed that vacant spot in the starting lineup for the rest of the season. With a major surge in minutes, Hayes began to churn out valuable stat lines with increasing regularity and became a reliable streamer or low-end hold in standard leagues. Overall, Hayes beat his ADP by a fair margin this season.

    As the first of three consecutive guards the Pistons have drafted in the lottery of recent NBA drafts, it now falls to Hayes to defend his spot in the starting lineup against the two higher-profile names that came after him. Whether he does remains to be seen but Hayes has now proven that he can be more productive with his playing time. Managers that rostered Hayes this year were rewarded primarily by his high-level assists and steals production. Despite showing some ability to contribute in other areas like points, treys and free throw percentage, Hayes did not have enough consistency in those categories to be a true asset. Teams looking for an assists and steals specialist could certainly consider Hayes in the tail-end of 12-team drafts next year, but it may be wise to temper expectations for the French-American guard as he could get bumped in the wrong direction in the rotation next season. 

    James Wiseman
    C, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 45 22 19.3 4.2 7.5 55.8 1.5 2.2 70.1 0.1 0.4 20.0 10.0 5.9 0.7 0.2 0.6 1.1
    21-22 GS 0 0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
    20-21 GS 39 27 21.4 4.9 9.4 51.9 1.4 2.2 62.8 0.3 1.0 31.6 11.5 5.8 0.7 0.3 0.9 1.5

    ADP: 120/132 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 297/306  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 256/277 (8/9-cat)

    Wiseman is an NBA champion, the second overall pick in his draft and still only 22 years old. It’s not often that teams have a chance to acquire such players for relatively cheap. Now, it’s fair to say that Wiseman wasn’t instrumental — in the slightest — in earning the championship ring he received from his time with the Warriors, and fairer still to say that he had hardly done anything of note since or before being drafted in 2020. However, Wiseman was immediately and consistently productive after being acquired by the Pistons in February. The 7-footer received 20-plus minutes in 22-of-24 games as a Piston, which is the same number of games he started for his new squad as well. It suffices to say that Wiseman is now proving he belongs in the league and has done his part to shake the dreaded “bust” label for now. Passable scoring and blocks output along with solid boards and field goal percentage helped to make Wiseman a solid streamer for stereotypical big man stats after the All-Star break.

    The question of who should start at center seemed to be a hot topic for Pistons fans once Wiseman came to town. After all, Duren was in the midst of an All-Rookie campaign and a regular on the highlight reels. For the majority of their short time together, it was Wiseman who got the nod. Will the next coach make the same decisions? Managers will have to pay extra close attention to quotes about Wiseman out of training camp because if the incumbent coach wants to choose the more productive player, it won’t be him. That’s not to say that it can’t or shouldn’t be, though the latter is certainly my opinion. A development-focused team surely won’t leave him behind but Wiseman’s only edges on Duren were points and free throws. In nearly equal playing time over their final 24 games — the length of Wiseman’s tenure with the Pistons — the younger of the two bigs was more productive. In a loaded post rotation with lots of mouths to feed, Wiseman will need to upgrade or add an extra element to his game in order to stand out. Though he is capable of beating his 10th round ADP from 2022-2023, Wiseman’s output in his Pistons tenure did not actually qualify him as a standard league player in anything more than a short-term capacity. Until there’s more clarity about his place in the rotation, managers should probably use their late round picks on a different pivot than Wiseman. 

    Marvin Bagley III
    PF, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 42 25 23.6 4.8 9.1 52.9 1.9 2.6 75.0 0.5 1.6 28.8 12.0 6.4 0.9 0.5 0.7 1.1
    21-22 DET 48 25 23.9 4.7 9.3 50.4 1.4 2.1 66.3 0.5 2.0 23.7 11.3 7.0 0.8 0.5 0.4 0.8
    20-21 SAC 43 42 25.9 5.7 11.4 50.4 1.8 3.1 57.5 0.9 2.5 34.3 14.1 7.4 1.0 0.5 0.5 1.4

    ADP: 138/141 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 263/257  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 177/168 (8/9-cat)

    What was I saying before about generally-unproven former second overall picks that are about seven feet tall? Bagley made his way to the Pistons via the Kings last season but injuries have kept him sidelined for a considerable chunk of time since then. One thing has been true of the Duke alum since he came to the league: he loves to score the ball. Bagley is unquestionably an offense-first player, so his fit on a team that was desperately starved of some scoring punch made a lot of sense. There were nights when Bagley looked like a world-beater, such as in a late March contest with the Hawks when he posted 31 points with four treys, eight boards, three steals and two blocks on stellar shooting percentages with no turnovers. Of course, he followed that effort with 14 points and three turnovers in the next contest, and that called to mind a familiar question for the former lottery pick: if things aren’t clicking and rolling through him, how can Bagley impact a basketball game? Bagley advocates should note that he was a combined minus-40 over the aforementioned two-game stretch, with the worse of the two plus-minus scores being the game that Bagley had a better individual performance in.

    Bagley is the oldest of a collection of Pistons post prospects with a lot of skill duplication among them. In five seasons of NBA basketball, Bagley has demonstrated neither the availability nor the production that warrants the late round valuation he was given in drafts for the 2022-2023 season. At 24 years old and with his fair share of highlight performances, there is still some justifiable optimism about Bagley’s ability to be a regular contributor. However, the manager that chooses to draft him in a 12-team league next year had better have a clear answer to the question, “What’s different this time around?” While he will likely be a streaming target for stretches of the upcoming season and beyond, Bagley’s profile as a minor producer of points, boards and blocks with hot-and-cold shooting stretches and no ancillary stats just doesn’t inspire much optimism.


    Isaiah Stewart
    PF, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 50 47 28.3 3.9 8.8 44.2 2.2 3.0 73.8 1.3 4.1 32.7 11.3 8.1 1.4 0.4 0.7 1.4
    21-22 DET 70 70 25.7 3.5 6.9 50.6 1.1 1.5 71.8 0.2 0.6 29.5 8.3 8.7 1.1 0.3 1.1 1.2
    20-21 DET 68 14 21.4 3.3 6.0 55.3 0.9 1.4 69.6 0.3 0.9 33.3 7.9 6.7 0.9 0.6 1.3 1.0

    ADP: 117/139 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 226/232  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 173/176 (8/9-cat)

    Want to know the secret to a good Beef Stew? Give it plenty of time and don’t rush the process. That’s what the Pistons are doing with the undersized big they were criticized so heavily for drafting in 2020 and Stewart continues to be an unheralded contributor for the team. As he has been since the beginning, Stewart was a monster on the boards for the Pistons this season. Stewart remained an engaged and energetic defender even if he blocked fewer shots this year. Further, while his numbers didn’t show much improvement in this area, Stewart showed signs of developing playmaking with an improved dribble-drive attack and improved passing. However, the most valuable improvement in Stewart’s game in terms of both fantasy value and the on-court product was undoubtedly his shooting, as the 6’8” forward-center went from non-factor from range to splashing more than a trey per night. For a team loaded with drive-and-dunk specialists, this was indispensable and Stewart was rewarded by retaining his spot in the starting lineup and setting a career-best mark in minutes per game. 

    Relative to his ADP, it’s reasonable to say that Stewart actually had a disappointing year. Without considering mitigating factors like a recurring shoulder problem or the predictable early struggles of expanding his skillset, Stewart missed his pre-draft valuation by a decent margin this year. His game definitely improved in ways already discussed, so what gives? Well, he lost nearly a full rebound each night over last year while falling from above-average blocks and field goal percentage production to average or worse in those areas. Pushing his range out to the 3-point line gave Stewart the field goal percentage of a guard but if he can find balance in that area, the third-year big could become a major fantasy asset. There should be no doubt that he can recover value in blocks and boards as they are central to his game and likely to be why he’s drafted in the tail-end of standard league drafts for the 2023-2024 season. Whether he beats that valuation or not likely comes down to how Stewart’s shooting stroke develops.

    Alec Burks
    SG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 51 8 22.0 3.9 9.0 43.6 3.0 3.7 81.4 1.9 4.7 41.4 12.8 3.1 2.2 0.7 0.2 1.1
    21-22 NY 80 43 28.5 3.5 9.0 39.0 2.7 3.3 82.2 1.9 4.8 40.3 11.7 4.9 2.9 1.1 0.3 1.1
    20-21 NY 49 5 25.6 4.3 10.2 42.0 2.1 2.4 85.6 2.1 5.0 41.5 12.7 4.6 2.2 0.6 0.3 1.0

    ADP: 139/140 (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 182/185  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 209/189 (8/9-cat)

    It took most of Burks’ career to become a standard league contributor but he arrived shortly before his 30th birthday as a scoring combo guard for the Sixers and then the Knicks. Now almost 32, Burks continues to ply his craft with little recognition for the versatility he brings to lineups. Though there isn’t as much general appeal to his fantasy game, Casey was able to use the 6’6” Burks interchangeably as an on-ball or off-ball threat thanks to his solid positional size, ball-handling and shooting. In times of need, he became an ideal streamer as a player primed to fill any hole on the perimeter. The tradeoff was that an inconsistent role led to inconsistent production and there was never enough offense running through Burks to rationalize a full-time roster spot in standard leagues. Early season success and a scoring streak around the New Year were the high points in an otherwise unspectacular overall year for the veteran guard who fell to streamer status after losing six minutes per game from last year’s average.

    Next year, Burks will be another year older and no closer to fitting the Pistons timeline. The team has the option to bring him back next season and there is no telling if that comes to fruition. Regardless of whether Burks is in Detroit or elsewhere for training camp, he should fall from the late round valuation that he opened the season with. As he progresses to the twilight of his career, Burks is more-or-less a known quantity and there isn’t enough there to rationalize spending a late round pick on a treys and free throws specialist.

    Isaiah Livers
    SF, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 52 22 23.1 2.3 5.5 41.7 0.6 0.8 82.1 1.4 3.9 36.5 6.7 2.8 0.8 0.5 0.5 0.6
    21-22 DET 18 4 20.0 2.0 4.7 42.4 0.6 0.7 83.3 1.4 3.4 40.3 5.9 3.0 1.1 0.7 0.4 0.7

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 275/261  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 270/249 (8/9-cat)

    After four years as a Michigan Wolverine and then getting drafted by a team less than an hour away from that campus, Livers is well-known to basketball fans in the state. Perhaps that explains why it was seen as a good thing that Weaver and the Pistons drafted a 23 year-old that just had foot surgery in the second round and then promptly handed him a guaranteed multi-year NBA deal when they didn’t need to. For those that browse box scores, Livers did little of note and didn’t do it often until about mid-February of this year. Despite this, it wasn’t uncommon to hear Weaver and Pistons fans talk about Livers like they saw something we didn’t. Given how often the Pistons were on national television, that’s probably true. 

    The Livers buzz was substantiated when the Pistons sent multi-year starter Saddiq Bey packing in a four-team trade. Past that point, Livers became a starter for the Pistons and became reliable for multiple treys per game in a 30-plus minute role. At 6’6” and 232 pounds, Livers had the requisite physicality to be a switchable multi-position defender and to compete for boards or blocks, although he only produced results on a few occasions, such as against the Spurs or Pacers. Though points will surely be part of his fantasy repertoire as a shooting specialist, it’s more likely that Livers’ fantasy value will depend on his ability to contribute in non-offensive categories. Growing into a 3-and-D role with more regular production in blocks, boards and steals will be signs that Livers is ready to take the next step as an on-court and fantasy contributor. Until that point, he isn’t going to be a standard league asset. That means that he should be left alone on draft night for next season, barring any substantial changes in his prospects for the year.

    Hamidou Diallo
    SG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 56 0 17.8 3.8 6.7 57.3 1.6 2.6 58.8 0.1 0.4 23.8 9.3 3.5 1.0 0.9 0.3 1.3
    21-22 DET 58 29 21.9 4.5 9.1 49.6 1.6 2.4 65.0 0.4 1.6 24.7 11.0 4.8 1.3 1.2 0.3 1.0
    20-21 DET 51 8 23.5 4.3 9.1 47.6 2.4 3.7 63.9 0.5 1.5 34.2 11.5 5.2 1.9 0.8 0.5 1.4

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 269/283  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 273/299 (8/9-cat)

    What does a former NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion have to do to get some love these days? Diallo didn’t get much attention coming out of training camp for the Pistons and had an inconsistent role to start the year. However, between the first of January and the first of March, Diallo was a real asset for Pistons and opportunistic streamers with 12.6 points on 5.4-of-8.4 shooting from the field with 1.4 steals per game. Though there is no fantasy impact to this, Diallo’s time on the court tended to be a net-positive for the Pistons as his plus-minus over this period was generally positive, which is noteworthy when you’re playing for the worst team in the league. Will that mean anything at fantasy drafts next year? Probably not. Diallo will enter free agency with an unclear future and likely no opportunities better than that which he had with the Pistons. What he had didn’t produce consistent results that would rationalize a 12-team valuation despite some impressive stretches that should have him on the radar for deeper formats.

    Cory Joseph
    PG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 62 2 19.8 2.4 5.7 42.7 0.9 1.2 79.2 1.1 2.9 38.9 6.9 1.7 3.5 0.5 0.1 0.9
    21-22 DET 65 39 24.6 2.7 6.2 44.5 1.5 1.7 88.5 1.0 2.4 41.4 8.0 2.7 3.6 0.6 0.3 1.3
    20-21 DET 62 12 22.8 3.1 6.6 47.1 1.2 1.4 81.8 0.7 2.1 33.6 8.1 2.5 3.4 1.0 0.3 1.2

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 251/245  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 285/286 (8/9-cat)

    Between the Raptors and Pistons, Cory Joseph spent five seasons playing for Dwane Casey. Over that period, he was always trusted as a steadying influence off the bench and generally regarded as more of a floor-raiser than individual contributor. That’s about how his most recent season for the Pistons should be described. After starring in this role for 13 season as a pro, Joseph continued to provide steady results as a second or third option at point guard. From March onward, he did a convincing impression of a starting point guard but there is far too much evidence to the contrary at this point in his career. Joseph enters the next season as a free agent but it wouldn’t cost the Pistons much to retain the veteran guard. None of this will matter at fantasy drafts, as he won’t be considered regardless of what I recommend here.

    R.J. Hampton
    PG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 48 3 15.6 2.1 4.9 43.0 1.2 1.6 75.0 0.9 2.4 35.3 6.3 1.8 1.1 0.6 0.2 0.9
    21-22 ORL 63 13 21.7 2.7 7.0 37.9 1.2 1.8 63.8 1.0 2.8 34.1 7.4 3.0 2.4 0.7 0.2 1.4
    20-21 ORL 52 1 18.0 2.6 6.0 43.5 1.1 1.6 67.1 0.5 1.7 31.0 6.8 3.4 1.7 0.4 0.2 1.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 326/331  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 341/361 (8/9-cat)

    Despite only recently turning 22, Hampton has already completed three seasons in the NBA. Over that time, his most noteworthy trait has been his staying power, as the multi-category production he has flashed infrequently throughout those three seasons have made his career frustrating to follow thus far. The Magic must have felt that frustration most of all, as they waived the young guard prospect mid-season before he opted to sign with the Pistons. Though he had some moments of success with his new squad, Hampton’s numbers have generally declined since swapping jerseys and the former first round pick may be quickly approaching journeyman status unless he becomes the contributor of counting stats that he has proven to be at times. The Pistons have him under contract for another season but Hampton’s early career stands as testament to the permanence of low value deals. Needless to say, there’s no reason to gamble on Hampton’s upside on draft day.

    Eugene Omoruyi
    SF, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 40 6 16.1 2.5 5.7 44.3 1.3 1.9 68.0 0.6 2.2 28.1 7.0 2.8 0.7 0.7 0.1 0.9
    21-22 DAL 4 4.5 0.5 1.3 40.0 0.5 1.0 50.0 0.3 0.5 50.0 1.8 1.8 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 351/356  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 359/375 (8/9-cat)

    Who? Omoruyi had four games of NBA experience coming into this season after going undrafted in 2021 and working his way up from a two-way deal with Dallas. The Thunder gave him the same opportunity to start the 2022-2023 season and basketball fans at large could be forgiven if they lost Omoruyi’s name in the mix of 15 other prospects on that roster. It suffices to say that the 10-day contract he signed in early March was met with little-to-no fanfare but within a week of that deal, Omoruyi had produced 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the line with a trey, six boards and a steal. Within two weeks of that performance, Omoruyi had produced similar lines three other times and had spent multiple games with the starters. The 26-year old is more of a prospect than his age would suggest but he continued to build on his momentum going into his final appearances and the Pistons have a team option to bring him back for next season that they will likely pick up based on affordability and an impressive return on their early investment. That won’t mean much in shallow formats on draft day but deep league and dynasty managers are probably going to pay attention to what Omoruyi’s short-term future looks like.

    Rodney McGruder
    SF, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 32 12 16.4 1.9 4.8 40.8 0.6 0.7 81.8 1.3 3.0 42.3 5.7 2.3 0.9 0.5 0.0 0.3
    21-22 DET 50 2 14.6 1.9 4.4 44.0 0.4 0.5 75.0 1.2 2.9 40.6 5.4 2.1 0.9 0.4 0.1 0.5
    20-21 DET 16 2 12.1 2.3 4.4 52.9 0.4 0.5 75.0 0.7 1.5 45.8 5.7 1.4 1.0 0.5 0.1 0.4

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 326/331  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 341/361 (8/9-cat)

    The Pistons had McGruder rostered all season but nobody really saw him in uniform until the New Year. Some early season appearances were few and far between, which was generally the case for the majority of McGruder’s season. A couple of 10-game stretches from late December to early January and again from late February to early March were where McGruder saw almost all of his playing time in the 2022-2023 season. That second period saw him play with the starters for almost every game and McGruder became a short-term streamer with above-average output in points, treys, boards and steals, but it’s unlikely that this sort of opportunity arises again for the soon-to-be 32 year-old. There is no clarity as to where he will play next season and no reason to gamble on upside due to his age, so managers should consider McGruder a streamer at best and wait for the sort of injury-induced opportunity that gave him his last opportunity to arise once more.

    Jared Rhoden
    SG, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 14 0 14.1 1.2 3.1 38.6 0.4 0.4 100.0 0.4 1.4 25.0 3.2 2.6 0.3 0.3 0.1 0.2

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 456/451  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 444/414 (8/9-cat)

    After spending some time in the Blazers organization, Rhoden found his way to the Pistons on a two-way deal. The Seton Hall alum went undrafted and the Pistons are one of the first stops of what is likely to be a multi-leg journey to an NBA career for a player that is still trying to find his niche as a pro. Rhoden got a couple of chances in the final two games of the season to produce in 30-plus minutes and proved himself to be little more than a grinder at this point. Some upside as a potential producer of treys, boards and steals may start to show if Rhoden gets more opportunities, but those are far from guaranteed for players on his career path.

    Buddy Boeheim
    SF, Detroit Pistons
    22-23 DET 10 0 9.0 0.5 2.7 18.5 0.2 0.2 100.0 0.4 2.5 16.0 1.6 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0 0.0

    ADP: N/A/N/A (Yahoo/ESPN) | Total Value: 515/509  (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 525/514 (8/9-cat)

    You get a chance in the NBA when your dad is a Hall of Fame coach and you spend multiple years torturing college defenses. However, the competition level rises in the pros and Boeheim will have to prove that he can keep up with more experienced athletes. At present, he is still trying to prove he can hang against G League competitors for the Motor City Cruise. With a limited number of two-way spots and a chief executive that is focused on stacking the team with high-potential prospects, it’s possible that Boeheim isn’t in a Pistons uniform — or other — when next season kicks off.

    Fantasy Star

    The impact player that beat their ADP by the widest margin should get this award and that’s none other than sharp-shooting veteran, Bojan Bogdanovic. On average, it seems that most managers viewed the Croatian as a 10th round pick or worse. That’s why it was so impressive when Bogdanovic started out with around 22 points per game with nearly four treys while making more than half of his shots over the first two weeks of the season. It was obviously and quickly proved to be unsustainable but Bogdanovic had more than proven the point that he is still a top-tier scorer that is liable to pop off for a big scoring night and limitless treys on any given night. This shooting-starved team needed every bit of what he was bringing to the table and Bogdanovic proved to be one of the only season-long assets on the team, even if he was eventually shut down.

    Fantasy Letdown

    How could it be anyone other than Cade Cunningham? Managers had to spend one of their earliest picks to get him and in some cases, his absence surely created a high-level production deficit that could not be overcome. There is little more to say than that an unfortunate injury and some inconsistent communication that followed burned a lot of fantasy managers. The shin injury was one thing but the question of whether the franchise player would play again wasn’t answered as promptly as many hoped it would be.

    One to Watch

    It’s hardly worth repeating that the Pistons will move as fast as their star swingman will take them, so perhaps it is better to focus on his co-stars. Until the next lottery pick arrives in town, there are none more likely to help take the Pistons to the next level than Jaden Ivey. The Purdue alum arrived with lots of fanfare and proved his worth immediately to the extent that Pistons fans are clamoring for his inclusion in a very competitive top-3 for the Rookie of the Year Award. As he enters his sophomore season, Ivey will begin his first full year alongside Cunningham and their chemistry will go a long way not only to determining the team’s overall success but also potentially in resolving some of Ivey’s efficiency issues. After all, a rookie guard asked to do too much is sure to suffer from that perspective and, while it’s fair to say that Ivey was equal to the task, it’s also fair to say there was hardly anyone worse if you look at combined field goal percentage, free throw percentage and turnover impact. The moment those numbers start to trend in the right direction is the moment Ivey has arrived as a future star in the league. Based on a pair of 30-point outbursts over the final 10 games of the season and several other 20-point nights sandwiched in between, it’s possible that Ivey is already there.

    One Burning Question

    It’s a question that we’ve touched on several times already: what’s going on with the post rotation? There are four players currently in contention for minutes at the four and five for the Pistons and each of them are under 25 years old and probably best deployed at center. One of them — Stewart — has started to flesh out his game in ways that should allow for a smoother transition to an extended life as a power forward but the other three continue to seem destined for a life within 5-to-15 feet of the basket. Debate rages on about which of Duren or Wiseman has a higher ceiling and consequentially, which of them should receive a starting nod and extra developmental minutes. Nobody wins in the current 24-minute split, so an answer will be needed eventually if they don’t function well together. Lost in the shuffle is a potentially-dangerous scorer in Bagley who has all the talent and ability needed to force himself into the discussion at either position but is running out of time to sell himself on upside. All four should be rostered for stretches or throughout the upcoming season and the way that the rotation shakes out — in some ways within their control — will determine which of the post prospects are most impactful for the Pistons next year. Whoever gets the minutes should rest assured of one thing: life will be easy working the pick-and-roll and catching lobs from dangerous playmakers like Cunningham, Hayes and Ivey.

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