Summer League is often the best time to experiment with different lineups, and the Pistons tested a different starting five in Saturday’s 105-99 victory over the Washington Wizards.
Detroit went with Saben Lee at the point, Jaden Ivey at the two-guard spot, along with Isaiah Livers, Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren.
Killian Hayes, who started Friday’s game against the Trail Blazers, did not suit up on Saturday. Instead, he was sitting courtside with teammates Cade Cunningham, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey and Marvin Bagley III.
It’s difficult to judge the new lineup’s cohesiveness due to Ivey’s ankle injury in the first quarter. Lee also left the game in the second half because of an ankle injury, while Duren had a scary fall late in the fourth quarter but remained in the game.
Here are a few more observations from the Pistons’ second Summer League victory:
Jaden Ivey injured
Jaden Ivey attempted two 3-pointers on Saturday. His first was a smooth stepback jumper that had the arc of a rainbow as it dropped through the net.
His second shot from deep (which won’t show up in the stat sheet because he was fouled) was the final attempt for the Pistons rookie. Ivey landed on the foot of Wizards center Isaiah Todd and turned his right ankle. Todd was assessed a flagrant foul for the closeout.
Ivey, grimacing in pain, spoke with the team’s coaching staff before he went to the free-throw line and made all three attempts. He finished with 11 points and two assists in just five minutes.
When Ivey was on the floor, he was electric. He appeared to pick up where he left off on Friday, as he was comfortable with his handle, his 3-point shot and his playmaking.
“It’s always good to get the first game, get the jitters out,” Troy Weaver told ESPN’s Mark Jones during Saturday’s broadcast. “We played decent in game one, but we didn’t shoot the ball well. Today, we made some shots and Jaden set the tone with his speed and pace and we were able to get some looks, so hopefully, we can keep it going.”
Ivey’s status for the remainder of Summer League remains unclear, but expect the Pistons to assess the risk factor in the coming days before Tuesday’s game against the Indiana Pacers.
Without Ivey’s explosiveness and playmaking, the Pistons appeared to lack a consistent flow in the offense.
Lee assumed the role of facilitator and played well until he suffered a left ankle injury in the second half that forced him to miss the rest of the game.
Lee made a good read at the end of the second quarter and found Stewart for an open corner 3-pointer. After that, he used his dribble to get into the lane and draw a foul.
Lee’s decision-making was better on Saturday, specifically in the third quarter when he led a 3-on-1 fast break. He gave the ball to Braxton Key, who lobbed it back to Lee for a soft alley-oop dunk. His decision to give the ball up early ultimately rewarded him and his team.
Overall, Lee had a solid outing on Saturday before the injury bug bit.
Livers finds his touch
The Pistons had seven players score in double figures on Saturday, led by versatile forward Isaiah Livers, who finished with 20 points.
Livers was efficient defensively on Friday against the Trail Blazers, however, the second-year forward showed his offensive prowess against the Wizards.
The former Michigan forward set the tone early in the first quarter when he cashed in a turnaround mid-range jumper, while absorbing contact for a 3-point play.
A couple of plays later, Livers was then the recipient of a flashy jump-pass from Ivey and he drained his first of four three-pointers. Overall, he appeared confident with his shot and aggressive on the boards, and comfortable at the free-throw line.
If Ivey and Lee aren’t able to play in the remaining games, expect Livers to become a focal point of the offense over the next few games.
Stewart the 3-point threat
Isaiah Stewart is going to keep shooting the 3-pointer, even when his percentage isn’t favorable. Stewart was 1-of-4 from distance late in the fourth quarter when he rose for a contested 3-pointer to give the Pistons a 94-90 lead.
Analytics would probably suggest that it was a bad shot, but Stewart’s confidence in his 3-pointer is growing with each game. Overall, he’s 5-of-9 from distance through two games.
And just because Stewart is shooting more 3-pointers doesn’t mean he won’t stick to his key strengths. The 6-foot-8 big man was in the right position late in the game when he tipped in a missed floater by Charlie Moore to give the Pistons a 101-97 lead and enough leeway to secure the win.
Bagley ‘super excited’ about contract extension
Pistons forward Marvin Bagley III was interviewed during Saturday’s game by ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth, who asked the big man about his new three-year deal to remain in Detroit.
“I was super excited. I love Detroit,” Bagley said. “I love the fans. I love being in that environment and when it was official, I was excited. I shared the moment with my family. It feels good to find a new home and be able to get better and have a place where I can grow and continue to better my game.
Bagley averaged 14.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 27.2 minutes through 18 games (eight starts) with the Pistons last year.
Bagley earned the nickname “Motown Marv” last season, so he used the moniker on Twitter last month when announced his decision to run it back with the Pistons.
“People have been calling me that during the season and it was just something I was having fun with,” Bagley said. “I definitely wanted to be back in Detroit. The fans showed nothing but love since day one and to be able to go back and do it for three more years, I’m super excited.”
Another classic look
The Pistons kept their throwback casual look for Summer League going on Saturday.
The team’s coaching staff wore maroon polos with the team’s old-school horse logo displayed on the left side. Summer League coach Jordan Brink and his assistants wore a teal version during Friday’s game against the Trail Blazers.
45-minute delay due to Magic-Kings
The Pistons and Wizards tipped off roughly 45 minutes after the scheduled 6 p.m. start time because the Sacramento Kings rallied from an 18-point deficit to force the Orlando Magic into double overtime.
Kings center Ellis made a 3-pointer from the top of the key. On the very next play, Paolo Banchero turned the ball over and the ball wound up in the hands of Keegan Murray, who dribbled to the 3-point line, pump-faked a couple of Magic players and drained a 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds left.
Magic center Emmanuel Terry blocked a shot towards the end of the first overtime, leading to a sudden death double overtime period.
The game’s pivotal moment came when Banchero blocked an alley-oop attempt but was called for a foul. The Magic challenged the call and was successful, leading to the winning layup by Terry.