Pistons vs. Wizards preview: Detroit goes to Washington to find a new backcourt identity

Detroit Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons are trying to invent its backcourt rotation anew after recent trades sent away sniper Svi Mykhailiuk and rock-solid playmaker Delon Wright. Yesterday, the team had a chance to try its latest acquisitions, Hamidou Diallo, who looks to have a long-term future in Detroit, and Cory Joseph who likely does not. Regrettably, Detroit couldn’t play its earlier acquisition, Dennis Smith Jr., who sat with some back issues. Because DSJ is day-to-day, he could be back on the floor. This would give us a chance to see a very intriguing defensive tandem at the guard positions of him and Diallo.

Game Vitals

When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +3.5

Analysis

After years of a leaky backcourt defense that was unwatchable to many, Detroit now has four promising, defensively-minded guards. Diallo, Smith, Killian Hayes and Saben Lee have shown signs this year they can join the lineage of quality Pistons defenders at the guard spots. Killian remains out (but is close to returning), Saben needs more seasoning before being trusted with the starting gig, but if Dennis is available this evening, not testing him alongside Hamidou against offensive guards Bradley Beal (let’s assume he’ll play) and Russell Westbrook would be a downer.

Hamidou’s D is known. We covered his defensive performance a little in our introductory piece about him. But DSJ is a pleasant surprise in this department. He didn’t have much of a defensive reputation. In my profile of him, I pointed to a number of his defensive shortcomings that surfaced when he was with other teams. Now in Detroit, while he still has flaws, he’s much more locked in. Both the figures and the eye test show Smith Jr. as a pitbull-type of on-ball defender who can be a real nightmare for opposing playmakers. He relentlessly deflects balls, gets blocks, or strips them of the rock altogether time after time. We’ll explore this more thoroughly in a separate piece, but now let just say that his 107.7 defensive rating, good enough to put him in the 64th percentile, doesn’t do justice to his efforts on that end of the floor. Along with Hami, they could make a really formidable defensive duo so why not give them some burn tonight against such demanding opponents? With Killian soon returning, the defensive potential of a backcourt pair of him and Hamidou is too tempting not to try. Even Saben could play himself into a tryout for the starting role.

Projected lineups

Detroit Pistons (12-32):

Dennis Smith Jr., Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee

Washington Wizards (15-28):

Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, Alex Len, Garrison Mathews, Rui Hachimura

Have a good game with your dreamed backourt, fellow DBBers!!! Which is it for you, by the way?

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