The Pistons lost 52 games this year. Fifty-two.
In a normal season, that would mean they won 30 games. But in a season truncated to 72 games by the pandemic, it was only 20 wins, the second-fewest total in franchise history.
The offseason begins with some optimism about what a good summer of work and individual improvement can bring. The roster was littered with rookies and new players learning the system and finding a rhythm with new teammates.
In looking back at the season, there were more positives than a typical 20-win season, with the rookies and the positive outlook topping the list.
Here are five takeaways from the Pistons’ season and what Pistons fans can look forward to in the NBA Draft and into next season:
There’s a new sheriff in town
General manager Troy Weaver lived up to all the hype about his eye for talent. He traded key pieces away to get more draft picks and hit the jackpot with Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart in the middle of the first round. It’s too early to make any definitive determinations on Killian Hayes, but even second-round pick Saben Lee looks solid.
Weaver turned over the roster almost completely in one season and has a vision for the culture and playing style for the Pistons, which hasn’t been as clear to fans in more than a decade. There’s clear confidence in him and his staff from team ownership all the way down to the coaches and players. That’s important in a rebuild, and Weaver is undoubtedly the face and personality of this franchise restoration.
Losing is hard
It was a tough season psychologically, for both veterans and young players. The record is what it is, but the players know that there’s more to come when the rebuild kicks into high gear.
In the midst of their losses, the Pistons did get some valuable playing time for the rookies, so there’s a clear assessment of what their strengths and weaknesses are. It’s clear that the losses left a bad aftertaste and that will fuel them to work in the offseason so that there isn’t a repeat next year.
More help is coming
The Pistons finished with one of the three-worst records, so they’ll have the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery. They can drop no lower than sixth, so they’re in a prime position to add an impact player in the draft such as Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green or Jalen Suggs.
History says that the Pistons haven’t had luck in the past with moving up in the lottery, but they’ve never had the best odds, either. Weaver also has three second-round picks this year, so there could be some more maneuvering to add more assets in the draft or free agency.
The future is bright
The draft yielded at least two starters in Bey and Stewart and some pickups in free agency, such as Frank Jackson, Josh Jackson and Mason Plumlee, were underrated additions. Given another year to tinker with the roster, Weaver can fill in some of the gaps with players who fit the system, all while staying within a reasonable financial constraint.
There will be more deals and many of the current players could be on the move, but it’s clear that Weaver has a sense of what he can do and what pieces will help in the short and long term.
Casey is the leader
Coach Dwane Casey signed a contract extension through 2024, so he’ll be the hand leading the rebuild. He’s helped develop many of the young players and has gotten the most from the veterans as well.
Casey has the players’ trust and respect, and the vote of confidence by Weaver and team owner Tom Gores puts a keen focus on the product on the court instead of who the next coach might be. It’s going to take some time to turn things around, but maybe not as long as many would have thought.