Summer League’s a go and the Pistons will be teeming with rookies & draft picks in a critical off-season
Chris Schwegler (NBAE/Getty)
The what, where and when of Pistons Summer League came into focus only Wednesday night, but the who was always going to make for a compelling storyline no matter how the other interrogatives lined up.
A typical Summer League roster will consist of this year’s draft choices and last year’s rookies and maybe you fill out three or four starting lineup slots that way and stock the roster with undrafted rookies and assorted journeymen trying to catch the eyes of G League and international scouts.
This year? The Pistons could quite possibly have an entire second unit of players coming off their bench that they’ll have expectations of growing into legitimate pieces of their future.
They’ll almost certainly have the four 2020 and both 2019 draft picks on hand: Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Saben Lee, Sekou Doumbouya and Deividas Sirvydis.
It’s likely that Tyler Cook, signed for the rest of the 2020-21 season and beyond after earning two 10-day contracts with the Pistons, will be part of the roster. That’s seven. They’ll also have a top-six draft pick from the 2021 lottery as a centerpiece. That’s eight. And the Pistons go into the July 29 draft with three second-round picks, including two of the top 12 picks in the round.
If the Pistons wind up exercising all four of their 2021 draft picks, that would make 11 players on a Summer League roster under team control – an extraordinarily high number. Has a team ever petitioned to have two Summer League entries?
The NBA confirmed reports Wednesday that Summer League will run from August 8-17 in Las Vegas. Whenever, however and wherever it was to happen, the Pistons vowed to be eager and willing participants. Troy Weaver and Dwane Casey are determined to maximize the off-season for a roster dripping with young players for whom summer development is critical.
When Casey was asked after Sunday’s season finale what was next on his docket, he said, “Hard work. That’s when the work starts. Give the guys a couple of weeks off and get right back at it. The whole team, this is probably one of the most important summers of their basketball-playing careers.”
Weaver echoed his coach’s priorities the next afternoon.
“We don’t have the final details on Summer League, but those guys will be ready,” he said. “What does summer look like for the Detroit Pistons? It’s going to be a lot of blood, sweat and tears. We’ve got to go to work. They’re going to be here working. If they’re going to have a Pistons uniform on, they’re going to work this summer.”
Casey and Weaver planned to meet with players this week to give them point-by-point details of what their summer schedule would be, a comprehensive regimen that encompasses on-court skills work, strength training and conditioning. But not much will come as a surprise in those meetings. They’ve known all along that after being deprived of a typical summer in 2020, work would be focused and intense in 2021.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do. There’s a big off-season awaiting all of us,” Hayes said. “We know what we’ve got to do. It’s a big summer coming up and we’ll be ready for next season.”
“I’m going to take full advantage of this off-season,” Lee said. “I watch a lot of film and I’m going to take this off-season very seriously. I feel it’s a big off-season for me and I’m definitely going to have a lot of improvement because of my work ethic and how I am as a competitor and player. It’s definitely a big summer for me and I’m definitely going to be doing a lot of things to try to improve my game.”