Out with the old, in with the new.
In one sentence, that's the best way to describe the offseason of the Detroit Pistons, who have undergone a near-complete roster overhaul under newly-hired general manager Troy Weaver, who was named to the post in mid-June.
As of this writing, just four players from the team's roster at the end of the 2019-20 season are members of the team's 2020 training camp roster, as Weaver has made a number of trades and acquisitions to begin a rebuild in the Motor City, with a clear focus on a youth movement.
Detroit's training camp roster features nine players aged 23 or younger, including four rookies selected within the first 40 picks of this year's draft.
And while the Pistons' roster does feature returning veterans in Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose as well as new additions in Jerami Grant, Miles Plumlee and Delon Wright, how well their young core performs will be a barometer of what to expect from the team in the coming years, beginning with a French duo.
Sekou Doumbouya and Killian Hayes
Hayes, selected No. 7 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft, is the point guard of the future in Detroit. The son of a former pro, Hayes was born in Lakeland, FL but grew up in France, where he became a pro at 16 and competed nationally for France.
Ahead of the draft, NBA.com Draft expert Kyle Irving described Hayes as "a playmaker first but he's not afraid to score. He thrives in the pick-and-roll and often makes the right decision on whether to set up a teammate or score the ball himself."
Doumbouya, who was the youngest player in the NBA last season, will most certainly be the beneficiary of plenty of Hayes' playmaking.
Like Hayes, Doumbouya competes internationally for France although he was born in Guinea. As the two were born less than a year apart, they have known each other for some time, pictured below at the 2018 Basketball Without Borders at NBA All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Doumbouya will be 20 once the season begins after a rookie campaign in which he showed plenty of athleticism, like on this finish:
.@sekou_doums DUNK OF THE DECADE.#PistonsNow powered by @RocketFiber pic.twitter.com/hPwSpUYw7O- Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) January 8, 2020
Doumbouya split his rookie season with the Pistons and in the G League, where he averaged 17.5 points and 5.4 rebounds in 16 games. As he turned 19 in a season that was cut short, this upcoming season is somewhat of an extension of his rookie year.
Because of his youth and length, Doumboya is looked at as having the potential to continue to grow in stature, which is scary considering he came into the NBA standing at 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan.
That he and Hayes have a pre-existing connection should only make their chemistry stronger as they figure out the league together.
The rookie trio
Detroit's draft night didn't stop after selecting Hayes, as the team remained active in acquiring the No. 16, No. 19 and No. 38 picks in the draft.
They made great use of them, too.
Detroit tabbed big man Isaiah Stewart with the 16th pick, a skilled 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward that averaged 17.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in his lone season at Washington. Like Hayes and Doumbouya, Stewart will be 19 during training camp and brings even more of a youthful infusion.
At No. 19, the Pistons landed 21-year-old Saddiq Bey, pegged by some as lottery-calibre talent. The 6-foot-8 forward has the measurables and skill set of a 3-and-D wing in the league and could swiftly slide into that type of role with the Pistons.
With the 38th pick, Detroit took Saben Lee, a 21-year-old point guard from Vanderbilt that is coming off a season in which he averaged 18.6 points, 4.2 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.
This trio of draft picks, along with Hayes and Doumbouya, stand to learn plenty from the established veterans as well as the team's head coach in Dwane Casey.
Establishing an identity
The above group is young, energetic and malleable.
Factor in 23-year-old Svi Mykhailiuk, 21-year-olds Dzanan Musa and Jaylen Hands (who is also technically a rookie) and 20-year-old Deividas Sirvydis and you've got a group of nine players that Detroit can develop into what the franchise wants to become.
Rebuilds are just that - they require something to be broken down before a new framework is established and it isn't always pretty.
In less than six short months, Detroit's front office has done away with just about everything from the last regime, bringing in talent and players that more closely align with a vision for the future. A 31-year-old Griffin and 32-year-old Rose don't necessarily fit the youth movement but could be looked upon to initiate the shift as there isn't much they have not done or seen in the NBA, though their days as Pistons could be nearing the end.
Along with his staff, Casey, who is entering the third season of a five-year deal signed in 2018, has the opportunity to shape this team into competing in the East once again. As was the case during his time leading the Toronto Raptors, player development will be a crucial component, even more so now.
While the Pistons aren't looked at as playoff contenders this year, adding more draft talent to an already-young core means that this roster could very well be built into something special in a few year's time.
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