It was a preseason to forget for the Detroit Pistons and especially for Cade Cunningham. Hopefully, he has a short memory. Cunningham and the Pistons dropped their preseason finale 126-111 to fall to 0-4 with the regular season just a week away.
Cunningham had 15 points, six rebounds and six assists with four turnovers, but he never felt like he was impacting the game or helping find easy looks for teammates. The former No. 1 pick finishes the preseason shooting 30% from the field with just 19 assists to 14 turnovers.
Not that his teammates were doing particularly better in the shooting department. They shot just 39% against the Grizzlies and 28% from 3 as Memphis was able to coast through the game (anytime they didn’t see an open lane and turn on their after-burners).
Memphis’ lead stretched as high as 17 and Ja was able to make quick work of Detroit, scoring 31 points in just 25 minutes including a couple of highlight dunks.
The Grizzles were able to live in the paint against Detroit, which has been a running theme of the preseason as the Pistons have struggled mightily with switching and recovering on defense.
Memphis scored 72 points in the paint, their worst showing of the preseason. Whereas a good night in the NBA sees you limit your opponent to about 35-40 points in the paint, Detroit surrendered 72, 62, 60 and 58 through its four games.
It’s a problem. A big one.
Detroit’s defenders are getting stretched out and Isaiah Stewart doesn’t have the size to deter drivers and Jalen Duren is too foul-happy. When the switches see the guards forced down low, Cunningham, Ivey and Bey are able to offer little resistance and are letting the screener slip behind them for an easy stroll to the basket constantly.
Tonight, the highlights were few, but they did exist. Jaden Ivey continues to struggle to understand the size and speed in the NBA and how and when to use that athleticism. He’s getting inside, but he’s not able to convert … yet.
Stewart struggled with his shot early as the Grizz were daring him to shoot his perimeter shot. He obliged, and the early results were ugly. But he found his groove and eventually hit three 3s in a row in the second quarter. He finished 4-of-10 from deep on the night.
Duren notched another double-digit rebound performance, his third in three preseason games. He had 12 rebounds in just 19 minutes. Unfortunately, he only played 19 minutes because he fouled out, and his fouling will clearly be an issue early in his first season.
With Marvin Bagley injured, there is clearly an opening and a need for Duren’s skills, but he won’t be able to capitalize if he finds himself in constant foul trouble.
Well, it might be a long season, Pistons fans. We ready?