The Detroit Pistons finished last season ranked #27 in ESPN’s post-season power rankings, after a year that saw them finish dead last in the Eastern Conference, one game behind the Orlando Magic and two games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Pistons will enter the 2022-2023 campaign looking forward to breaking in a new lineup that includes first round picks Jaden Ivey out of Purdue and Jalen Duren out of Memphis.
Ivey will enter the league with the fourth-best odds to win Rookie of the Year, an award Cade Cunningham fell just short of last season in large part because of the Pistons’ lackluster record.
Duren, the former Memphis Tiger, comes in with much more relaxed expectations, which could be a welcome change of pace for the former all-world college basketball recruit and athletic marvel.
Detroit also added Bojan Bogdanović from the Utah Jazz, a sharpshooter who should bring an added dimension to the Pistons’ lineup by utilizing the outside shot to set up the drive, and to space the court players like Ivey and Cunningham.
Put it all together and it’s easy to see why the Pistons have the makings of becoming a sleeper contender for a mid-tier playoff position in the East.
Despite these and are reasons for optimism, Detroit hasn’t moved up ESPN’s rankings much heading into the 2021-2022 season.
Pistons Rank 24th in Preseason Power Rankings
Detroit finds itself ranked #24 on ESPN’s most recent NBA Power Rankings, seven spots behind the rival Cleveland Cavaliers, who added another, far more talented difference maker from the Utah Jazz as well in Donovan “Spida” Mitchell, the athletic combo guard who should team with Darius Garland to give the Cavs one of the most exciting backcourts in the league.
The popular sports network had the following to say about Detroit, listing their NBA title adds at +50,000:
“The Pistons came away from draft night feeling like one of the biggest winners in the league, landing guard Jaden Ivey at No. 5 and center Jalen Duren at No. 13,” wrote ESPN analyst Jamal Collier in the rankings, which can be read in full here.
The defending champs the Golden State Warriors are listed in the number one spot heading into the 2022-2023 season, with their Finals counterparts the Boston Celtics, previous champ Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns rounding out the Top Five in the rankings.
Looking at the Pistons’ roster and its relative youth and inexperience, it’s easy to see why ESPN and others are simultaneously hopeful yet skeptical.
This season looks like it could remind many of the early days of the Isiah Thomas Bad Boy Pistons at best — the talented but young Pistons are likely to get blown out more than a few times by more experienced competition.
With a rabid fanbase and plenty of optimism and excitement surrounding the team, the 2022-2023 season could be the perfect opportunity for young guns Cunningham, Ivey and others to forge their mettle in the heat of competition.
For now, keep your eyes on Ivey, Duren and Cunningham, as this trio has what it takes to make plenty of noise in the Eastern Conference for several years to come.