The Detroit Pistons have struggled this season mainly because of their offensive ineptitude, but it also hasn’t helped that they have faced three likely playoff teams this season. The Orlando Magic is the first winnable game on the Pistons schedule this season and also likely the last for the next couple of weeks. Just take a look at the Pistons’ upcoming schedule.
The cure to any team’s early-season woes is a winnable game at home, so hopefully the Pistons are able to take advantage. It seems likely we will see Cade Cunningham’s debut as the No. 1 overall pick spent the duration of the road trip practicing with the Motor City Cruise and is also practiced with the Pistons on Friday.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit or NBA League Pass
Odds: Pistons -6
The Orlando Magic will be on the second night of a back-to-back which plays into the Pistons favor. Although the Magic are playing in Toronto, so they won’t have to travel an extremely far distance.
The Orlando Magic are in a very similar boat to the Pistons. After spending years trying to retool a middling roster to compete for the bottom seed in the playoffs, they decided to tear it all down and rebuild. And while that process didn’t start until last year’s NBA trade deadline when they traded Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, they ended up getting a decent haul in those trades which has the Magic’s future looking a lot more promising than it did at the beginning of last season.
The Magic added a lottery pick (Franz Wagner), Wendell Carter Jr, and RJ Hampton as a result of their roster tear-down and all of those players appear to have a long-term future with the team. It also paved the way for more playing time for 2018 first-round pick Mo Bamba and their other lottery pick, Jalen Suggs.
Bamba in particular has been greatly improved as a result of receiving regular playing time. He has started to flash some of the inside-out game that made him such an appealing prospect at his size.
2020 lottery pick Cole Anthony has carried the Magic on offense as he comes into this matchup as the leading scorer at 17 points per game.
The Magic have a lot of young players with upside, but they also have a lot of overlapping skillsets that they will need to sort out over the next few years. But since this is still the beginning of their rebuild, they have plenty of time to figure everything out.
As for the Pistons, they did show some promise offensively in the 4th quarter of their game against Philadelphia on Thursday. They almost had a miraculous comeback. Saddiq Bey finally broke out of his early-season shooting slump and still displayed his inside scoring ability he has showcased in the early part of this season. If Bey can keep up with the inside scoring and get back to the 3-point shooting he showcased last season, that is a 20 points per game scorer that raises the future ceiling of this team.
Jerami Grant will be looking to bounce back in a more favorable matchup. If Cade Cunningham is back, he will not be focused on as much defensively and can hopefully get back to hitting shots and creating a little bit of offense. Grant is only shooting 34 percent from the field and averaging 15.7 points per game. His defense has been pretty good this year, but he needs to be able to carry more of a load offensively if the Pistons have any hope at breaking out of their early-season offensive slump.
The Pistons will hopefully make an announcement on the status of Cade Cunningham early in the day so we can remove some of the mystery surrounding his playing status. My gut tells me that he is going to play, but I also thought he would be playing on opening night.
With the upcoming schedule the Pistons have, I think it is crucial to get Cunningham out there for the first time in front of the home crowd in a far easier matchup than the Bucks or Nets.
Orlando Magic (1-4)
Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr, Mo Bamba
Detroit Pistons (0-4)
Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Question of the Day
What will Cade Cunningham’s first career statline be?