It was only 48 minutes and the Detroit Pistons needed all but all but 11.6 seconds of them to beat the reigning league-worst Orlando Magic at home. But it's also been one winning season since 2008. It's been zero playoff wins since the housing market crash. It's been a perpetual state of purgatory as the franchise accomplishes nothing, yet somehow accomplishes enough to not reload and build something worth building. So forgive fans desperate for rays of hope for getting a bit excited by a 1-0 record. Forgive them for delighting in stellar NBA debuts from Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. Forgive them for having a bit of pep in their step this morning because, for the first time in forever, there's real reason for long-term optimism in Motor City.
Don't get it twisted. Getting to 30 wins this season will not be easy. There's no reason to start printing any shirts or ripping up Victor Wembanyama lottery tickets. All those horses humming under Chrysler hoods should be held. This recipe for success requires some simmering in the Crockpot, no matter how hungry the masses may be. Getting the right ingredients in place was a painful process, and yet anyone watching on Wednesday night could begin to imagine how they could work together for a delicious dish.
A more muscle-bound Cade Cunningham made it a point to share the basketball, dishing out 10 assists to go with 18 points. At times his immaturity reared its head, especially late with some poor possessions, which is perfectly natural for a 21-year-old kicking off a sophomore year. New addition Bojan Bogdonovic made six of his first seven triple tries en route to 24 points. Isaiah Stewart, who made only 15 threes last year at age 20, provided the dagger with a corner shocker. Ivey stepped onto the big stage without blinking, scoring 19 points and running 4.2 40s from baseline to baseline. in transition. Duren, the baby of the group at 18, became the youngest Pistons player to ever notch a double-double.
Combined, one starts to see it. In two years. Or three. And honestly, thank god. When someone is wandering in the wilderness they can be tricked by a mirage. It's happened before in this city. This time it feels different. Finally.
All of these players will continue to improve. They will take strides forward. The collection of ceilings rise very high. More exciting, though, is the collective floors. Between Cunningham, Ivey, and Duren it's difficult to imagine any of them reverting or falling short of productivity. They are all under team control for the foreseeable future and could flourish into something special. Assembling the right ancillary pieces is no guarantee. Yet the unprecedented competence inspires confidence.
There's light in the horizon. And that's rask to bask in its glow.