2 measurable goals for success in the 2021-22 season

The season outlook for the Detroit Pistons is at least somewhat optimistic, justified mainly by securing the first overall draft, Cade Cunningham. However, this does not mean that they are suddenly fighting for a playoff spot, on the contrary. They are only a year away from being one of the worst teams in the league so expectations need to be set accordingly.

In fact, bookies have set the total profit forecast at a modest 24.5. Only Orlando and Oklahoma City are further down the list. In last year’s 72-game season, the Pistons won 20 of them, which equates to roughly 23 wins in a standard year. An extra win or two would hardly be considered big growth.

While progress may or may not be reflected in the chart, there are some measurable differences in the coming season to hope or even expect. Troy Weaver’s first draft in November 2020 marked the beginning of this new era of Detroit Pistons basketball. This will be another year of testing for the fledgling organization which will hopefully show that it is on the right track.

Win or lose, there are two small but critical improvements that could show the Pistons will have a better season than last year, even if it’s minimal.

Here are two measurable goals for the Detroit Pistons in 2021-22.

The most noticeable improvement the pistons could make would be if they rebounded the ball better – especially when defensive. The Pistons finished last season in the top five for both overall and defensive rebounds.

The possession of the ball on the offensive was only marginally better; they were 19th in the league. At the head of the team were Mason Plumlee (6.7 DRPG) and rookie Isaiah Stewart (4.3 DRPG).

It’s obvious why defensive rebounds are essential to a team’s success. A defensive rebound opens up a new chance to score and prevents opponents from getting another chance. This is confirmed.

The Pistons had a pace of 97.9 ball possession and gave up 13.4 points per game for the second chance. Both are in the lower third of the league. Besides, they now have to do without a Plumlee, now a Charlotte Hornet.

This means that Stewart may ride some more in his sophomore year as he will likely be the main center. Already in the preseason games he showed some rebound skills under the defensive basket that could turn out well for the regular season.

Kelly Olynyk will be a good upgrade to the front position in terms of rebounding, especially if he picks up where he left off last season and gets vital minutes against an admittedly poor Houston team. In 27 games for the Rockets, the eight-year-old veteran scored 8.4 rebounds per game, almost seven of them on the defensive. For Olynyk this is anything but a career high.

Another factor the Pistons need to address is their high turnover rate – and defensive play after a turnover. They still spun the ball 14.9 times per game, the sixth most in the league. For a team that is already playing slowly, it cannot afford to give away points.

Well, losing the ball alone does not make a team fail, but the points allowed afterwards can and do. Take the Lakers, for example. They actually flipped the ball more than Detroit but gave up fewer points because they have one of the best defenses in the league.

How do the pistons limit sales? For starters, Killian Hayes, who is the team’s biggest culprit at 3.2 per game, can of course see less time on the point guard spot. Instead, Hayes might be more of a recipient of plays he seems more adept at rather than having to do them.

Cory Joseph and Saben Lee could do more of the lead role since they started towards the end of last year. Cunningham should also do some of the primary ball-handling duties when he is healthy. The disadvantage? Cunningham is known for forcing passports when they are not available.

After last season there will certainly be at least some desirable improvements over the year. The two above are quantifiable and their importance is obvious: Limiting the possessions of opponents results in fewer points being allowed.

For a team like the Detroit Pistons that was struggling to win games, every point helps. While the above improvements may not necessarily be reflected in the profit column, they can still be an indication of what’s to come.

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