With the Detroit Pistons ravaged by health and safety protocols, five of the nine rotation members for the Pistons tonight played in the G-League showcase for the Motor City Cruise.
The lack of real NBA talent and experience showed in a major way against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs, who had a mostly intact roster, were clearly superior all night. Detroit trailed by 8 after the first quarter and were completely out of the game by halftime.
With no point guards available, the Pistons signed Derrick Walton to a hardship contract and he immediately started as the only real point guard on the roster. Without a floor general, Detroit looked to Hamidou Diallo as its primary initiator. And Hamidou answered the call.
Diallo found success in the pick-and-roll with Luka Garza as his screener. Garza provided much better screens than Pistons’ ball-handlers typically receive and Diallo was able to use his athleticism going downhill as a result. Hamidou finished well at the rim and ended with a game-high 28 points on 19 shots.
Saddiq Bey was the only other Piston really capable of creating any sort of offense and he continued his good play inside the arc. Unable to just catch and shoot, Bey worked his way into the paint and welcomed contact. His reward was shooting 14 free throws, which accounted for more than half of his 23 points on the night.
As tough as the backcourt issues were, health and safety protocols have been even harsher for the frontcourt.
Luka Garza and Cheick Diallo were the only Pistons resembling a big and they played only a combined 39 minutes because each of them fouled out. When they were on the floor, both showed some good things though.
In addition to setting great screens, Garza was one of the few legitimate threats offensively all night. He did a little bit of everything en route to 20 points on 14 shots. The other Diallo gave some nice high-energy minutes as needed. He was a bit reminiscent of last year’s Tyler Cook minutes in how flashed across the paint for buckets (thought it all happened below the rim tonight).
Neither Garza nor Diallo could stay on the floor, though. They just couldn’t defend Spurs penetration or switching onto smaller players. And it resulted in a LOT of fouling.
The defense as a whole was pretty nonexistent, really. The Spurs consistently pushed the tempo off misses and makes. They got pretty much whatever look they wanted and converted at a high level. In particular, Detroit had no answer for Keldon Johnson who scored a team-high 27 points in only 23 minutes.
It was a tough game to watch, even by 2021 Detroit Pistons standards. But given the makeup of the team, it’s hard to find any major takeaways in a game where nearly the entire roster was unavailable.