Isaiah Stewart has been playing very well for the Detroit Pistons this season, but unfortunately, most of it has been off the bench.
He has only made four starts and averages less than 20 minutes a game, which is really a shame because he has the potential to be a high-impact player that elevates everyone around him.
Looking at his stat line, it would appear that he is a defensive specialist. And right now, that’s been his role. Come off the bench, shut down the opposing bigs, score a bit, grab some misses, and sit out.
I think he has the potential to be the centerpiece in a really good and fun lineup.
I picture him as the swiss army knife that ties a good team together, much like Draymond Green. He doesn’t have to be the best player on the floor, but he can negatively affect opposing offenses and add to a high-powered offense.
Detroit Pistons: Time to move Isaiah Stewart into the starting lineup
Fully accepting that this team will be in rebuild mode for multiple seasons, it’s time to give Stewart a starting role. He can provide some outside shooting and space the floor, giving Plumlee more room to work down low, and on defense, he can shut the paint down and meet a high flyer at the rim.
He’s young and doesn’t have the discipline of a Rudy Gobert, so I fully expect him to get posterized or in foul trouble, but after a few months, he’ll get a handle on it and be a force down low.
Next year, the Detroit Pistons will hopefully have their pick of the litter in a stacked draft class, especially in the top five. There’s a very good scenario and a really great scenario.
Either Detroit goes into the season next year with a lineup of Hayes, Bey, Stewart, Grant, and Evan Mobley or Cade Cunningham, or they manage to sneak in a top-tier shooter like Johnny Juzang into the mix somewhere.
A lineup like that would have the shooting, spacing, perimeter and interior defense, playmaking, and a ton of scoring threats. If none of Detroit’s young players burn out, this is a team that could score at a very high clip while also playing lights-out defense. Stewart may be the worst player in those lineups, but he’s the most important.
He requires constant attention down low on offense, and can’t be left alone on the perimeter. He’s a defensive center who’s shooting over 40 percent from deep. Admittedly, there’s a small sample size, but he’s a threat anywhere.
Conversely, he would require opposing offenses to plan around him. If he was a starter, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to average two and a half blocks a game. His per 100 possession numbers back it up.
Pair him with Cunningham and he could be a pick and roll partner or an option for Cade to pass to in the corner. Pair him with Evan Mobley, and they’d be the best big men defensive combo since Robinson and Duncan.
The dream lineup is not in place yet, but Isaiah Stewart needs minutes to prepare. If the Detroit Pistons draft smartly, we could be looking at one of the most fun Detroit teams ever.