Pistons owner Tom Gores has 'tremendous confidence' in team's rebuild
Detroit — Pistons team owner Tom Gores had a front-row seat at Little Caesars Arena to watch his team's first win of the 2022-23 season.
Gores watched the Pistons' rookie first-round picks provide immediate contributions, as rookie guard Jaden Ivey shined in his debut and rookie center Jalen Duren added 14 points and 10 rebounds. After a couple of lean seasons for the team, Gores saw Cade Cunningham find Isaiah Stewart for the 3-pointer to ice the game in the final seconds.
As Gores watched the re-tooled Pistons — a team beaming with youth and eagerness to prove themselves — overcame a 15-point lead in the first half against the Orlando Magic, he couldn't help but think about the future.
“You know I’m an optimistic person and this team has the makings of something special,” Gores said at halftime. “There’s no doubt about it, with their basketball and everything else, they have the makings of something special.
“They do the basics. They work hard; they’re unselfish. They’re young. I talked to them (Monday night) and being young, there are no limits for them. This team embodies what we believe in in Detroit.”
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Detroit hasn't made the playoffs since 2019, when the Blake Griffin-led Pistons fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round.
Over the offseason, general manager Troy Weaver brought in two lottery picks and acquired a sharpshooter in Bojan Bogdanovic, along with a couple of veteran pieces to complement Detroit's core nucleus of Cunningham, Stewart, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes and Marvin Bagley III.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey, the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year, promised a defensive approach from this season's team. He's said repeatedly that he doesn't want them to use being young as an excuse not to compete on a nightly basis.
Gores said that Casey and Weaver have his full support as the front office and coaching staff aim to restore the franchise back to its winning ways.
"I think we’ve got great people, great players and great leadership with Dwane and Troy," Gores said. "I have tremendous confidence and I’m a very optimistic person, but these guys are showing it on the floor."
For an extremely young team when most of their core players are less than 23 years old, Gores also said he expects the team to go through their fair share of growing pains in turning things around from a last season's 23-win showing.
"You have to have growing pains. It’s a part of any growth," Gores said. "The thing about our team is they have the character to actually go through pain — and we’re going to go through a lot, no doubt. What’s the average age on our team? 21 or 22? These guys have the character to go through it, so, of course, I expect (growing pains)."