NBA Power Rankings: The Pistons are coming along... slowly
The Detroit Pistons, who were the second worst team in the league this past season, will surely come out looking at least a little better with Cade Cunningham in the lineup. He adds to a young core of Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart that I think will begin to make some noise starting soon.
Even if the young core ends up still looking a bit unseasoned this year, though, having both Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk available should help to give them a bit of a boost even after the departure of Mason Plumlee. Ultimately, though, I still think they're a ways away from a playoff appearance.
On paper, the New Orleans Pelicans should have been quite a bit better this past season, but only managed a record of 31 wins and 41 losses. With a new head coach, I'd be a bit more optimistic about the team if they had kept their roster intact, but instead, they lost Lonzo Ball to the Chicago Bulls seemingly without putting up much of a fight.
Outside of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the last bit of optimism I hold in the team comes from their three most recent draft picks in Kira Lewis Jr., Trey Murphy, and Herbert Jones. Murphy and Jones in particular directly address the team's two biggest needs: three-point shooting and defense. If they can come into the league and contribute immediately, the Pelicans may have a chance of playing much better.
The Indiana Pacers seem to be in an endless state of mediocrity and, while they have a few very good players (including an All-Star), they can't seem to find ways to win enough games. The bigger issue, though, is that they've done nothing of substance in the offseason that leads me to believe there will be a dramatically different outcome this season.
While Rick Carlisle will surely prove to be a better coach than the debacle that was Nate Bjorkgren, I think the improvement in year one will be marginal at best, if not nonexistent. Furthermore, instead of drafting for the future, the Pacers decided to use their 13th overall pick on 24-year-old Chris Duarte. Count me as a bit confused with their game plan moving forward at this point.