The biggest factor in Detroit Pistons becoming a winning franchise again

Detroit Free Press

With the NBA regular season opening Tuesday and the Detroit Pistons debuting Wednesday vs. Chicago, it is a perfect time to dig deep into the hometown Pistons to answer as many questions as possible entering the new season.

Omari Sankofa II, our Pistons beat writer, stopped by Tuesday afternoon for a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” chat. (Follow Omari on Twitter: @omarisankofa).

If you missed the great discussion and insight, you can read all of it on Reddit.

Below is a sampling of some of the best questions, with answers from Omari (edited for clarity and length):

>> Remember, if you want more Pistons news and analysis this season, download our free and easy to use mobile app on iPhone or Android. It looks great on your device.

And if you’re not yet a Free Press subscriber, here is how you can support Omari and the rest of our writers for $1. You will gain access to our most exclusive Pistons content  — like this story on Larry Brown’s influence on Cade Cunningham’s development — all year long. It’s a slam dunk!

THE LEAP: Why Isaiah Stewart is well positioned for a breakout second season

ANOTHER STEP: Jerami Grant should have even bigger season thanks to Pistons’ reshuffling

Do you think owner Tom Gores has enough patience for a true rebuild?

I think so. The Pistons are where they are now because Tom Gores gave GM Troy Weaver full autonomy to completely turn the roster over. They tried taking shortcuts in the past and it didn’t work. I don’t think Troy’s going to rush this process.

What do you think the main factor is in the Pistons becoming a winning franchise once again? 

They just need talent. If Cade Cunningham hits his ceiling, that’ll bring them closer than they’ve been since 2008. There’s nothing else that really matters in the grand scheme beyond talent and health.

RISING STAR: How Cade Cunningham became can’t miss player — aided by his brother & Larry Brown

If you had to name one player, who is the most likely name to come up to be dealt at the trade deadline?

Josh Jackson and Cory Joseph are on team-friendly deals, so I think they’re logical options. Though Josh really likes it here and fills multiple roles, may not be as easy to replace depending on how well he shoots it.

When should we start worrying about Killian Hayes?

If he hasn’t shown much progress by All Star break, maybe it’ll be time to have some concerns then. He’s only played 26 games and it’s common for rookies to struggle early on, but you’d probably want to see some progress by then.

ON GUARD: With Cade Cunningham & Killian Hayes, Pistons right to prioritize talent over fit

What are the most real steps forward that you believe we will see on the floor from the guys chosen in the last two Pistons drafts?

Isaiah Stewart could make a big leap forward this season as a Day 1 starter. Thought he showed some real potential last season as a switchy post defender, and he’ll be popular with the analytics crowd.

Saddiq Bey’s scoring numbers should go up with his bigger role. Not sure if he’ll be taking the step back midrange shots we saw during summer league, but averaging 15-plus points is definitely possible for him.

For Killian, just dictating the pace of the offense, playing strong defense and knocking down open 3’s and getting to the line more would be a good sophomore season. All attainable goals for him.

Looking at the next two free agent classes, who do you like as potential Pistons?

As far as big names, I think DeAndre Ayton (restricted) is a logical option next year (though the top of the draft has a few talented big men). I also really like Kyle Anderson, who will be an unrestricted free agent next year, as a role player. Shot the ball really well last season and he’s always been a good playmaking and defending power forward.

Bradley Beal will be unrestricted in 2023 if he picks up his player option next year, and he’ll somehow only be 30 going into 2023-24. If the Pistons are ready to compete, he makes sense as a target. Obviously assuming he isn’t traded before then.

HIDDEN GEM: How Jamorko Pickett went from ‘caterpillar’ to ‘butterfly’ to Pistons

For more, read the rest of the discussion.

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