After one preseason game, it’s safe to say the Detroit Pistons have a few things to work on.
They trailed for all 48 minutes in their preseason debut against the New York Knicks, as mental errors led to a blowout 117-96 loss at Madison Square Garden. The Pistons turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 26 Knicks points, and shot just 41.3% overall and 31.7% from 3.
But there were bright spots, too. The rookies — Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren — both impressed, as Ivey scored a team-high 16 points and Duren grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds. Isaiah Livers was one of Detroit’s best players on both sides of the floor with 13 points and two blocks. Killian Hayes also looked good, finishing with 11 points and five assists. Bojan Bogdanovic added 11 points.
Dwane Casey started Bogdanovic, Ivey, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. That lineup could change as preseason progresses, but it’s also a lineup that could carry over into the regular season.
Ivey looks good in (preseason) debut
Not much went right for the Pistons on Tuesday night, but Ivey passed his first NBA test.
On a night where most of Detroit’s roster struggled to find the bottom of the net, the game appeared to come easier to Ivey. His burst and speed getting downhill were as advertised — five of his six buckets were in the paint, either in transition or by blowing past defenders in the halfcourt. The coaching staff and his teammates have praised his athleticism during camp, and his best college skills appear to be translating to the NBA just fine.
But Ivey also looked good as a passer, and knocked down his lone 3-point attempt. He finished with two assists, but his teammates couldn’t capitalize on a handful of drive-and-kick opportunities he generated. Midway through the second half, he whipped a nifty one-handed pass to a cutting Cade Cunningham to get him his first bucket of the night. Ivey’s 3-pointer was a pull-up attempt, continuing the nice outside touch he teased during summer league.
Like Cunningham and Killian Hayes, the coaching staff appears to be trusting Ivey to prove himself as a starter. He had some rookie mistakes — he had an almost-turnover on a mistimed pass, and was blocked twice by Mitchell Robinson in the first quarter. Overall, there was far more good than bad.
Hayes’ aggression stands out
Two of the biggest talking points during training camp has been Hayes’ newfound confidence, and his tweaked outside shot. He spent most of the summer playing pick-up basketball against other NBA players and cleaning up his shooting form. His issues on offense go beyond his career 26.8% mark as a 3-point shooter — he’s been a reluctant scorer all-around. On Tuesday, he took a step toward silencing his doubters.
He made five of his first nine shots, and four of his five makes were in the paint. Hayes finished two layups through contact — he missed the and-1 attempts, but his ability to play through physicality looked improved compared to last season. Hayes also made one of his two 3-point attempts. The first hit the side of the rim, but it appeared that a Knicks defender bothered the shot.
It’s only one preseason game, but we rarely saw the Hayes we saw on Tuesday last season. He has already proven himself as one of Detroit’s best perimeter defenders and passers. Making a significant stride forward as a scorer would be a milestone for his development, whether it’s knocking down a higher percentage of 3s, finishing in the paint and getting to the line more frequently, or both.
Contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.