Charles Barkley: ‘Why would I watch the Pistons?’ Here are several reasons, Chuck

Detroit Free Press

Charles Barkley gets paid to cover the NBA. But it seems he spent another offseason “gone fishin'” and has some catching up.

On the annual tradition of Inside the NBA’s “Who He Play For,” the Hall of Famer and TNT broadcaster went a miserable 0-for-5 guessing which teams veteran role players now play for after a summer of player movement.

The first name on the list: New Detroit Pistons big man Kelly Olynyk.

“Aw you know this one, this is easy. This is easy, Chuck!” analyst Kenny Smith says as Barkley ponders.

“The Dallas Mavericks,” Barkley guesses emphatically — and wrongly.

“It does start with a D,” host Ernie Johnson says, before giving the answer.

“Why would I watch the Pistons?” Barkley, named to the NBA’s 75-year anniversary team this week, retorts.

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Let’s face it: Barkley should know who Olynyk plays for.

The No. 13 overall pick in 2013 from Gonzaga, Olynyk signed a three-year, $37 million deal to open free agency in August after spending the second half of last season in Houston. The 30-year-old’s floor-spacing as a big man is a rare weapon, and brings solid passing and high IQ as well. He’s a career 36.7% shooter from 3-point range, and should make life easier for the entire Pistons’ roster, specifically the young backcourt.

The Pistons traded last year’s starting center Mason Plumlee to Charlotte during the draft in July, opening a starting spot for second-year big man Isaiah Stewart and clearing room to sign Olynyk. It showed an effort to revamp the center position after a decade of non-shooting rim-runners in Andre Drummond and one year of Plumlee.

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Pistons coach Dwane Casey has been raving about Olynyk in the preseason, and admitted he has been trying to get the Canadian on his team for years.

Other reasons to watch the Pistons?

Um, Cade Cunningham, anyone? The No. 1 overall pick suffered an ankle sprain a few weeks ago and will miss Wednesday’s season opener, but when healthy, he’s the type of talented player the Pistons have been lacking since the 2000s.

A smooth athlete at 6 feet 6, he can dribble, pass and shoot, and defend multiple positions.

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The Pistons also have two players who made an All-Rookie team last year in Saddiq Bey and Stewart. Both are expected to take another leap forward this season as full-time starting players.

Jerami Grant flirted with making the All-Star Game last season and finished second for the Most Improved Player award. He should become more efficient in his season year with the team, benefiting from the growth of young players and the added floor spacing.

And don’t forget about Killian Hayes, the No. 7 pick from the 2020 draft, who suffered an injury early in his rookie season and was limited to 26 games.

When healthy, a starting lineup of Hayes, Cunningham, Bey, Grant and Stewart features four first- or second-year players, all with exciting upside.

By the way, Barkley then missed Ish Smith (Charlotte), Plumlee (Charlotte), Torrey Craig (Indiana) and Garrett Temple (New Orleans).

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