Detroit Pistons two-way players, including Buddy Boeheim, on cusp of NBA playing time

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons’ sparsely attended practice Tuesday included not seen much this season — those of Jared Rhoden and Buddy Boeheim, who are on two-way contracts.

With 20 games remaining on the schedule, the Pistons (15-47) are battered and bruised. Jaden Ivey (personal reasons), Jalen Duren (bilateral ankle soreness), Bojan Bogdanovic (bilateral Achilles tendinopathy) and Isaiah Stewart (right hip soreness) all missed Monday’s road loss against the Charlotte Hornets. The Pistons also lost Isaiah Livers, forced into the starting lineup, in Monday’s first quarter to a left ankle sprain. Livers’ injury left them with just eight available players.

All five sat out Tuesday’s practice, but Ivey and Bogdanovic are expected to play in Wednesday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls.

Boeheim and Rhoden, who have made only token appearances in one game apiece, have been called up from the Motor City Cruise and have a chance to play rotation minutes for the first time this season. (Another two-way player, Braxton Key, played nine minutes across three games before he was waived in December.)

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“Buddy brings us some shooting, and Jared brings us a little bit of everything,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said Tuesday. “They’re available to go just in case, if need be.”

During Troy Weaver’s first two seasons as general manager, the Pistons’ two-way players spent significant time with the parent club. In 2020-21, Saben Lee and Frank Jackson appeared in 88 games combined and were ninth and 10th on the roster in total minutes played, respectively. Last season, Jamorko Pickett and Key, who initially signed a 10-day contract on March 24 before signing his two-way deal, appeared in 22 games combined.

Why have we seen so little of Boeheim and Rhoden? Much of it is thanks to the Pistons’ improved depth. They lacked guards during the 2020-21 season, largely due to Killian Hayes’ hip injury costing him three months. It cleared a path for Jackson and Lee to play significant minutes during the second half of the season. And last season, an early COVID-19 outbreak forced the Pistons to not only utilize Pickett, but much of the Cruise’s roster as well.

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Key and Pickett also played most of their games in March and April last season. So we could see much more of Boeheim and Rhoden, who signed his two-way deal Dec. 26, in the final weeks of the season.

Just as he was at Syracuse, Boeheim has been a 3-point specialist with the Cruise. Through 32 G League games this season, the 6-foot-6 wing is taking 7.1 3-point attempts per game and hitting 36.7%, averaging 10.9 points.

Rhoden’s 3-point percentage is 40.7% on 3.9 attempts per game, and he’s averaging 16.3 points over 38 appearances.

Eventually, Casey would like to use the Cruise to develop the Pistons’ own rookies more. Ivey and Duren haven’t needed that and are starters in the NBA already. But their absence this week could allow Boeheim and Rhoden a moment in the spotlight.

“We have guys here that could be with the G League if we had a veteran team,” Casey said. “No disrespect to Ivey to go play, especially earlier in the year, Duren to go play, rehab, whatever it is to go play and do both just to get the reps in the game. That’s what we want to get to, to utilize our G League team that way. It’s not a demotion, just an opportunity to practice, especially with the lack of practicing we have with the new schedule.”

Pistons to honor 2003 Detroit Shock

The Pistons will honor the WNBA-champion 2003 Detroit Shock as part of the organization’s “Women’s Empowerment Game” on March 9 vs. the Hornets at Little Caesars Arena.

It was the Shock’s first of three championships — they also captured the 2006 and 2008 titles. In 2003, they had a league-best 25-9 record, one season after finishing a league-worst 9-23. They defeated the Los Angeles Sparks in the Finals, 2-1, winning the championship at The Palace of Auburn Hills. (The ’06 title was won at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, and the ’08 title was won at EMU’s Convocation Center in Ypsilanti.)

“We are pleased to welcome back members of this great team during Women’s History Month and recognize them for delivering the first WNBA championship to Detroit,” Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem said in a release. “The team truly embodied the spirit, fight and grit of the city and pulled off a remarkable feat with a historic turnaround in just one season. We’re excited to celebrate their place in Detroit sports history.”

Catch our podcast “The Pistons Pulse” every Tuesday morning at 5 and on demand on or wherever you listen to podcasts. See all of our podcasts and daily voice briefings at

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa.

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