The Detroit Pistons are on the up-and-up.
Last year's top overall pick, Cade Cunningham, had an excellent rookie season and looks like a true star in the making. Exciting prospect Jaden Ivey, arguably the perfect backcourt mate for a player like Cunningham, fell to the Pistons at No. 5.
Add in a number of other promising young players like Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes, Marvin Bagley III and rookie Jalen Duren, and Detroit's rebuild is on the right path.
The 2022-23 season, then, is all about the progression of those players and what Ivey and Duren show as rookies. Below, we'll take a look at the schedule the Pistons will face as they continue the process of building a contender around young talent.
2022-23 Pistons Schedule Details
Season Opener: Orlando Magic on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. ET
Championship Odds: +50000, per Fanduel
Full Schedule: NBA.com
For young teams, the chance to match up against other squads that also find themselves in a rebuild—and against the top talents from the summer's draft—is always a telling litmus test.
Enter the Orlando Magic and top overall pick Paolo Banchero.
The Pistons (23-59) finished just one game ahead of the Magic last season in the Eastern Conference cellar, though the Pistons will want to be able to make the strong argument that their young core is ahead of the Magic's group of Banchero, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Markelle Fultz.
These should be fun, high-flying matchups, and an indication of how far the Pistons' young core has developed—or needs to develop.
Sacramento Kings (First Game Sunday, Nov. 20)
In this year's draft, there seemed to be a general consensus that the top three players were Banchero, Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren, in some order, and that played out in late June.
The real question, then, was what the Sacramento Kings would do at No. 4, with many pundits believing Ivey was the best player available. But the Kings instead went for Iowa forward Keegan Murray, setting up a fun little showdown between the two players this season.
In Sacramento's defense, Murray was awesome in Las Vegas Summer League play and was named MVP after averaging 23.3 points and 7.3 rebounds.
But Ivey might have a little extra sauce for the four teams who bypassed him in the draft, and the matchup with Murray in particular should be fun to watch.
The Pistons probably aren't going to be very good, but they should be very, very fun.
Cunningham looked the part of a franchise cornerstone in year one, averaging 17.4 points, 5.6 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. His ability to impact winning in multiple ways so early in his career, including as the team's primary playmaker, is an excellent sign.
If he can improve his perimeter shooting (31.4 percent from three last season), the sky's the limit.
His new backcourt partner, Ivey, is more of an explosive, high-scoring gunner and combo-guard than a pure point guard, which should pair perfectly with Cunningham's ability to facilitate.
"He's fast. I'm not fast," Cunningham told reporters over the summer. "To have somebody like that with me, it spreads the floor out a lot. I like to kick ahead to push the pace and he can literally sprint it there. It's going to be fun."
Duren will bring more athleticism and size to the frontcourt, while Stewart has already shown potential and Bagley is looking to prove he's the top talent he was drafted to be. Bey (16.1 PPG last season) has already proved he can offer solid scoring as the team's No. 2 or 3 option.
There will be growing pains. This is a young team. But the Pistons are going to give opponents some trouble this season, and Detroit fans are going to enjoy the ride.
Record Prediction: 29-53