Pistons vs. Magic takeaways: Pistons win 89-78, Detroit frontcourt steals the show

The NBA summer league truly is such an interesting part of the offseason. For one, most NBA fans don’t even know it exists. I consider myself a diehard Pistons fan and even I find it difficult to bring myself to look for when Detroit is playing during the summer league. I feel like until this year it was also borderline impossible to find the games on TV, so it’s kinda cool that they played this game on ESPN. I have to say that whenever I’m watching the summer league it’s a painful reminder of how far we have left until real, competitive basketball. I mean, watching a player whose name you’ve never heard before seeing them chuck up multiple airballs really makes you appreciate the regular season. That said, differentiating the roster for the season and the summer league for Detroit is starting to get pretty difficult. I mean, seriously, who is Jared Rhoden? And why is his jump shot actually really nice?

Missing the NBA aside, the summer league is a really cool experience for NBA fans and players alike. It’s pretty awesome to watch your team’s newly drafted rookies make you question your GM before the season has even started, as well as getting to root for some players you will probably never see again. Who do you think has the summer league scoring record? Probably someone like Kevin Durant, or James Harden comes to mind. You guessed it. Anthony Morrow, a name that only rings a bell if you are an OKC fan or someone who spends too much time browsing NBA forums, had 47 points for Golden State in 2009. To make this moment even funnier, this same Warriors summer league roster included.. wait for it… Stephen Curry. Yeah. While looking into this I also noticed a player named Von Wafer had 40 points for the Nuggets in 2007. Can’t imagine having 40 dropped on me by a guy named Wafer. Anyways, there was a lot to unpack in Detroit’s first game. Let’s get into five takeaways I have from game one of the 2023 summer league.

  1. Marcus Sasser is going to score, a lot

Despite only finishing with 10 points on 3-8 shooting, in his 24 minutes, the Houston guard demonstrated a great ability to handle the ball, as well as to create space for himself. His jumper also looks strange on first glance, but that’s only because his trigger is so fast that the form looks poor. During the replay reviews and on rewatch, Sasser has a very nice shot and can get it off extremely quickly. I was also impressed by his defense at times, Sasser showed a lot of grit and hustle on defense and gave me hope that he could eventually translate into a serviceable on-ball defender. In 2023, Sasser was named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watchlist, an honor only given to 15 athletes. Sasser averaged 1.6 steals a game, so there is hope that despite his height, he can be a pest defensively.

2. Jalen Duren has been working on his guard skills

When I put the game on tonight, I was expecting Duren to come out doing what he always does, dominating the glass and dunking all over the court. Mind you he still did that, finishing with 17 points and 8 boards, 3 of which were offensive, but I was surprised to see Duren playing a lot more like a guard during the night. It almost seems like Monty told Duren to go out there and just practice handling the ball more. He only had 1 assist, but he had many great passes that were extremely impressive for his size that simply didn’t convert. In the fourth quarter, he hit a couple of midrange jumpers off the dribble that really had me shocked too. His handle still needs work, but if Duren can start becoming a better playmaker within Detroit’s offense, he has scary high potential as a player.

3. Buddy Boeheim needs to play more minutes

I don’t understand why they played this guy for only 5 minutes. I actually couldn’t believe it when I was looking over the box score, I could’ve sworn he was in the whole second quarter. In his 5 (!) minutes of play, Boeheim had a perfect 3/3 shooting, all threes, good for 64.8 points/36 mins. Now obviously Boheim isn’t going to break every scoring record if they played him more, but I liked what I saw from him. Detroit has clearly made shooting an emphasis with their moves this offseason, save drafting Ausar, so why not play Buddy more and see what he can do? I loved his off-ball movement, he did a great job getting open and his defense was serviceable for the most part. I would like to see him get closer to the 15-20 minute range against Houston, tomorrow.

4. Ausar is exactly what Detroit needs

Watching Ausar tonight could probably be described as unspectacular to most. He didn’t have 30 points or dunk on anyone, or do anything to land himself on bleacher report. But I thought he was very impressive as a whole, especially just looking at his playmaking ability. He reminds me a lot of Cade in the way he effortlessly can lead an offense, He didn’t have the ball in his hands a lot but when he did I really liked how he seemed to always make the right play. He had a lot of great kick outs to open players, and overall just didn’t force anything. He also had 9 rebounds and 4 stocks, which is something we can continue to expect out of him as a Piston. Detroit needs a player that can fill in the gaps left by our young core, and Ausar just has such intelligent play that I think will benefit the Pistons so much in the future. He is clearly still a raw player, but I think his read on the game is already at a much higher level than most rookies. (side note, why do the Thompson twins love finishing with their left so much? I swear they choose their left even on open layups)

5. Jaden Ivey is working on his 3 ball

If you just looked at the box score, you would probably think Jaden Ivey had a pretty bad game tonight. Well, you’d be right. Sort of. My opinion on Ivey’s shot selection tonight was that Monty told him to go out and just put up threes. I don’t really recall Ivey ever choosing the three that often last season, and I didn’t see him drive much at all tonight compared to normal. Frankly, Ivey bricked the majority of his threes, but if he can start hitting them, he becomes a huge threat offensively. I liked his playmaking a lot tonight though, he had an awesome behind-the-back pass at one point in the second to Duren which was highly skillful. He played a lot better in the second half, and he did have 5 steals as well, showing his impact defensively. All in all, definitely a disappointing night from Ivey, especially with Keegan dropping 41 the other night, but I expect him to bounce back and shut everyone up tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Pistons vs. Magic takeaways: Pistons win 89-78, Detroit frontcourt steals the show

  1. I’m really looking forward to what this new roster for the Pistons is to offer, especially the new players. I’m hopeful but then again I am a diehard Lions fan, so I’m used to disappointment

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