SAN FRANCISCO — The injury bug has struck the Detroit Pistons once again.
Marvin Bagley III will likely undergo surgery to repair two broken fingers in his right hand, according to a report from Yahoo Sports NBA reporter Vincent Goodwill. The Pistons are already without Cade Cunningham for the season, and have seen several of their core players, including Alec Burks, Jaden Ivey and Isaiah Stewart, miss time this season. Now, they will be without one of the best scorers on their surging second unit once again.
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Bagley is listed as “OUT” for Detroit’s road game against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday with a metacarpal fracture in his right hand. During their practice in San Francisco on Tuesday, head coach Dwane Casey acknowledged that they expect Bagley to miss time. The Pistons have yet to formally set a timetable for Bagley’s return.
The injury occurred around the 7:30 mark of the second quarter during Monday’s loss at Portland. Bagley got into post position in front of Blazers guard Keon Johnson, and placed his right hand on Johnson’s side. When Johnson spun away, Bagley’s hand was bent at an awkward angle and he immediately yelped in pain. He continued grabbing toward his hand until the coaching staff subbed him out at the 6:57 mark. Bagley was ruled out of the game not long after.
Bagley gave Detroit the necessary depth for Dwane Casey to start Isaiah Stewart and Jalen Duren together. The chemistry between the two players has blossomed, with Stewart embracing his role as a floor-spacer and playmaker. Stewart has grow more comfortable as a passer, and he has made a point to try to find Duren for easy dunks when defenses leave him unaccounted for.
With Bagley out, Casey will likely have to stagger Duren and Stewart more often, similar to the first few weeks of the season when Bagley sat out with an MCL sprain. Stewart has found a groove at the four, but the Pistons will need him to play more center. We’ll also see more of Nerlens Noel, who has only appeared in eight games thus far.
It remains to be seen if the injury will prompt Casey to separate Duren and Stewart in the starting lineup, though Casey has hinted toward changes. They have been Detroit’s starting frontcourt since Duren was promoted to the first five on Dec. 9. As a starter, Duren is averaging 8.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
“We’ll have to stagger them, and Nerlens is in play also,” Casey said after Tuesday’s practice. “He’s gotta be ready, whether it’s foul trouble, whether it is he’s gotta be ready to step in and help out. We’ll probably stagger those two and mix our two bigs in both lineups.”
In 25 games this season, Bagley is averaging 10.6 points and 5.9 rebounds. Injuries have marred his first full season with the Pistons after arriving at the trade deadline last February. His MCL sprain caused him to miss Detroit’s first 13 regular season games, and now he’s slated to potentially miss significant time as the Pistons enter the second half of the season.
Bagley signed a fully-guaranteed three-year, $37.5 million contract with the Pistons last summer.