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Pistons’ extension of Isaiah Stewart shows faith in developing three-point shot

Isaiah Stewart

If Detroit Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart wants to realize his full potential, he must continue to improve his three-point shooting.

A stretch-4 is essential in today’s NBA, and if Stewart does not develop into one for Detroit, the team will be without a big man who can reliably shoot. What is the Pistons’ issue? Stewart has yet to demonstrate his ability to reliably shoot the long ball. General manager Troy Weaver evidently believes in the 22-year-old’s progress, as Stewart and the Pistons recently agreed to a four-year, $64 million rookie-scale deal extension.

“Stewart is Detroit’s most versatile defender and has shown improvements as a floor spacer,” The Athletic’s James Edwards III wrote in his report. “The entire organization views him as the heart and soul of the rebuild. Stewart just turned 22 in May and has, arguably, shown the most improvements from anyone on Detroit’s roster.”

Stewart has clearly matured over his time in the NBA.

He entered the league as an undersized big man with huge hustle, a strong defensive presence, and “heart of the team” leadership potential (No. 16 pick in 2020). He’s displayed all three attributes in Detroit over the last three seasons, but he was challenged to become more of a deep threat last season. He shot 33.3% from three-point range on 63 attempts in year one and 32.6% on 46 attempts in year two.

He attempted 205 three-point shots in 2022 as he tried to adjust to his new role, shooting 32.8% from deep.

Again, a 4 who can shoot the three is a huge requirement in today’s NBA, and it was assumed that Stewart was the answer in that capacity when the Pistons declined to pursue Brooklyn Nets restricted free agency forward Cam Johnson (39.3% career three-point shooter) late last month.

Shooting 32.8% is certainly insufficient for a floor-spacing 4, but this new contract from the Pistons indicates that the Pistons are fully committed to Stewart’s continuing improvement from deep.