30 Teams in 30 Days

2021-22 Detroit Pistons season preview: Roster changes, depth chart, key storylines and games to watch

The 2021-22 NBA season is set to tip off on Oct. 19 (ET). In preparation for the upcoming season, we're dedicating one day between now and the start of the season to each team in the league.

Last but not least is the Detroit Pistons.

2020-21 season record

20-52, 15th in the Eastern Conference

Notable additions

Cade Cunningham, No. 1 pick in 2021 NBA Draft

Kelly Olynyk, free agency

Notable departures

Mason Plumlee, trade

Wayne Ellington, free agent

Depth chart

Detroit Pistons depth chart (2021-22)
Starters Second Third
PG Killian Hayes Cory Joseph Frank Jackson
SG Cade Cunningham Hamidou Diallo Cassius Stanley
SF Saddiq Bey Josh Jackson Rodney McGruder
PF Jerami Grant Trey Lyles Isaiah Livers
C Isaiah Stewart Kelly Olynyk Luka Garza

3 key storylines

The Cade Cunningham era begins

After finishing with the second-worst record in the league last season, the Pistons earned the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

You know what happened next - the Pistons selected Cunningham out of Oklahoma State.

Cunningham dominated his one and only collegiate season. Appearing in 27 games, the 6-foot-8 guard averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists on .438/.400/.846 shooting splits. He took home a number of accolades in the process, headlined by him being a consensus First Team All-American.

As NBA.com's draft expert Kyle Irving wrote, "Cunningham is as ready of a pro prospect as they come." Other members of our NBA.com Staff see shades of Grant Hill and Jayson Tatum in his game.

The Pistons are very much in a rebuild, but Cunningham gives the franchise someone with superstar potential who they can build around. It's no surprise that he has the best odds to be crowned Rookie of the Year, and it's going to be fun to see what he's capable of doing right out of the gates.

Killian Hayes getting back on track

The No. 7 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, Hayes had a rough rookie season.

Not only was he limited to 27 games due to injury, but Hayes struggled to take care of the ball (3.2 turnovers per game) while shooting only 35.3 percent from the field and 27.8 percent from 3-point range. He was overshadowed by Detroit's other first-round picks in the 2020 NBA Draft in Bey and Stewart, both of whom made an All-Rookie Team.

It's not hard to see the appeal in Hayes. He's a big guard who is still incredibly young and he flashed a lot of upside playing professionally overseas prior to joining the NBA, to the point where he was drawing some comparisons to James Harden.

Provided he can stay healthy, we should get a better idea of what the Pistons have in Hayes this season.

What's next for Jerami Grant?

Grant was one of last season's breakout players.

In bumping his averages up to 22.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, Grant finished second to Julius Randle in Most Improved Player voting.

Grant was more of a 3-and-D wing prior to signing with the Pistons but saw his usage skyrocket to the same level as James Harden, Kawhi Leonard and Ja Morant last season. He created a lot more offence for himself and others, and he made huge strides as a shooter off the dribble.

The addition of Cunningham means Grant won't have to carry as big of a load as he did last season but look for him to continue fine-tuning his game.

5 games to watch

Oct. 20 vs. Chicago Bulls

Detroit's season-opener comes against the Bulls, who were one of the more active teams this offseason, adding two starters in Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan.

Nov. 10 at Houston Rockets

A showdown between Cunningham and Jalen Green, the top two picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. Their first matchup in the NBA will be televised on ESPN in the United States.

Nov. 13 at Toronto Raptors

A rookie battle between Cunningham and Scottie Barnes, as well as a return to Toronto for the three Canadians on Detroit's roster: Joseph, Lyles and Olynyk.

Jan. 23 at Denver Nuggets

Grant returns to Denver where he spent a season prior to joining the Pistons. Grant played a key role in the Nuggets' run to the Western Conference Finals.

Feb. 8 at Dallas Mavericks

Cunningham once said that Luka Doncic is one of the players he models his game after. This will be the rookie's first time facing the two-time All-Star.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

Ime Udoka, Dennis Schroder (Boston Celtics)
Udoka frustrated by Celtics turnovers
Nick Metallinos
Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
Embiid's dominance turning 76ers season around
Yash Matange
Russell Westbrook
All-time triple-double leaders: Jokic climbing list
Yash Matange
Eric Gordon (Houston Rockets)
Rockets create history with win streak
Benyam Kidane
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Raptors comeback falls short against OKC
Benyam Kidane
James Harden (Brooklyn Nets)
Rockets honour Harden with tribute video
Benyam Kidane
More News