Can Isaiah Stewart really become a consistent 3-point shooter for the Detroit Pistons? This is perhaps the most important question of Deroit’s offseason, and key to whether Isaiah Stewart can stick around long-term in Detroit. Beef Stew has plenty of naysayers and diehard supporters, most notably the Pistons organization, and we now get to see it play out on the court.
Admittedly, I have been a believer in Stewart’s shot development if for no other reason than the confidence the organization seemed to have in him. He is currently 3-of-8 from deep through two games, and he is showing all the signs you would want to see in terms of knocking down the shots it would take to be a true stretch big. What will be interesting to watch is how Stewart, and the team, respond to the stretches where he does go “cold,” especially if his shot diet calls for him shooting 4-plus attempts per game.
Of course, there are other important elements to being a big man on the perimeter than just shooting, and I took a little heat the last time I brought them up. First, Stewart will have to be able to make some plays as a passer. He does not necessarily have to be a creator, but he must make the “one more” pass to an open teammate or be able to execute a simple drive and kick pass. Second, he will have to be able to attack hard close outs off the bounce once he starts getting the reputation as a guy who will make you pay with his 3-point shot.
There are also developments down low for Stewart — mainly his play on the baseline and dunker spot. Part of his limitations in that dunker spot will be nullified if he instead opts to drift to the perimeter for a corner 3. There will be times where he will be asked to catch and finish those dump offs from Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, and Jaden Ivey. An increased efficiency in finishing these plays would go a long way for Stewart and the team. So far in his career, we have seen too many lost opportunities because of a dropped pass or an inability to finish. I highlight this in the video above but I do think Beef Stew could finish these at a higher rate if he focused on stepping into the finish as he was receiving the pass.
Finally, it is just hard to do a breakdown on Stewart without mentioning his defense. He is already showing his switchability early in the preseason and, based on reports and the film, it looks like we will see a heavy diet of switching from our Pistons again this season. While I personally question the value of this as a team-wide philosophy, it definitely plays into the strengths of Stewart. I look forward to once more watching him succeed in this scheme and continue to get national attention for his defensive acumen.
How Dwane Casey handles the big man rotation for the Pistons this season will be interesting to watch. Casey has a plethora of options in Stewart, Marvin Bagley III, Nerlens Noel, Jalen Duren and even some “smaller 4s” in Bojan Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Livers. All have definitive strengths, and significant weaknesses. Stewart’s defensive ability makes him a great option with most of these pairings, although there are some questions about his overall rim protection. Offensively will be the end of the court to watch and why the 3-point shot would be such a huge development for himself and the rotation.