The Detroit Pistons Defense Has To Be Better. Rebuild or Not.


What’s been your honest assessment of the Detroit Pistons’ defense? From my talks with observers and fans, many expected better results defensively despite what the record may indicate.

The 113-93 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers (12/21) was another game in which the Pistons gave up at least 110 points and lost by double digits. It was their third such occurrence in eleven games through December so far.

And the frustrations are becoming just as visible with the team and coaches, as it has been vocalized by the fans supporting the team game by game.

For a lack of better terms the NBA’s second worst defense looks inexperienced and undersized. The Pistons defensive rating of 117.4 puts them just slightly ahead of the San Antonio Spurs rating of 117.8.

The way it’s translated to fans, has left many questioning their effort, heart and determination. The hall marks of historical Detroit Pistons’ defenses as well as the trait that binds all Michiganders. Especially our sports teams and fans in south east Michigan.

There are factors to consider as the reasons behind the bad defense, but should it be this much worse than last year?

To compare (via

  • 2021-22 (23-59)
    • Def Rating 113.3 (24th) | 7.7 STL | 4.8 BLK | 12.5 Opp 2nd Chance |  49.7 Opp Paint Points
  • 2022-23 (Current Record 8-26, on Pace for 18-19 total wins)
    • Def Rating 117.4 (29th) | 6.7 STL | 3.6 BLK | 15.2 Opp 2nd Chance |  54.2 Opp Paint Points


For as good as Bojan Bogdanovic is offensively, he has not fit the bill defensively. Throughout the summer on the Woodward Pistons Podcast, I along with Jeff Iafrate of the Morning Woodward Show and Rod Beard of the Detroit News continued to ponder an underrated loss.

Jerami Grant

We wondered if fans were too zealous with Grant’s departure. As the anchor the team had a defensive rating of 113.3. Good for 24th in the NBA just behind several other teams by hundredth’s of a percentage.

It’s not easy to replace a versatile defensive power forward standing six feet and nine inches tall (just about), with a 7 foot 3 inch wing span. But it was thought the stagnation of the offense was due in large part to him. Instead of a lack of overall talent on the roster during that time.

Dwane Casey eluded to the swap not doing the team any favors defensively, about a month and a week ago this time. “Bogy (Bojan Bogdanovic) is not a power forward… it’s not fair for him to be battling 6’10” guys and bangers,” head coach Dwane Casey said. It prompted Casey to insert Marvin Bagley into the starting lineup at power forward, and Saddiq Bey to the bench, allowing Bogdanovic to play small forward.

It is imperative for the Pistons to replace this loss before next season. I will cover in an article coming soon the best potential trade and draft targets.


The Pistons boast the ninth youngest team in the NBA at a combined average age of 25.08 years. Despite teams like the Portland Trailblazers and New York Knicks fielding younger teams, they have the advantage of defensive minded veterans. Like the aforementioned Jerami Grant now of the Trailblazers or Julius Randle of the New York Knicks.

Do the Pistons have ‘That Guy’ on defense? Not yet.

Until they do I suspect coach Casey will show up a few more times to the post game media sessions visibly frustrated with the defense.

He’s spoken game after game of the attention to detail they pay in practice to defense. That they work on defensive sets for the majority of practice. He’s called out their weaknesses and stated it is a continued work in progress. On film, it definitely looks like that. Younger players have looked out of place, not talking enough at times and confused on plays where defensive switches occur.

The players have admitted to the learning curve as well. Jaden Ivey spoke about it after the Pistons lost to the Utah Jazz December 20th.

“I feel we need to do better handling ball screens and getting to the ball. Just being better defensively,” Ivey said. “Coach talks about that all the time… I definitely think it’s something we have to improve. We just weren’t locked in, defensively we have to do a better job”.

Roster Make-Up

I hear the grumblings of fans pointing the finger of blame at coach Casey. But this is something newly extended GM Troy Weaver may have to fix.

And from everything we know about Weaver, aka the Grim Weaver or Troy Reaper… how ever you fancy, he’s going to fix this.

Last season when the team desperately needed a pick and roll lob threat for newly drafted star Cade Cunningham, Weaver did not disappoint. He was able to trade Detroit native Josh Jackson and Trey Lyles for Marvin Bagley III.

Now they face defensive holes along the front court, as well as in need of a ‘3 and D’ type of wing. One that can defend multiple positions on the defensive end, while not needing a high usage rate to be effective offensively.

That was the draw back with Jerami Grant and his fit on this team last year. He needing the ball in his hands, meant taking it away from players like Cunningham, Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey.

With cap space, draft and trade capital, I expect Weaver to fix this before next season. Where expectations should be raised.

What’s Next

The Pistons play the Atlanta Hawks Friday, December 23, at 7:30PM.

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Phot Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports