22-year-old NBA starlet Isaiah Stewart has become the first Detroit Pistons player since 2008 to receive a rookie extension, with the Washington graduate securing a four-year deal worth $64 million.
The last player to receive such a deal was Jason Maxiell in 2008, and it is a testament to the progress made by Stewart, who has steadily become a crucial player at the Little Caesars Arena.
The last few years have been lean ones for Pistons coach Dwane Casey with Detroit suffering a losing season in each of the last four campaigns. Indeed their total of 17 regular season wins in 2022/23 was the lowest for the franchise since 1979/80.
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Last season Stewart hit career highs of 11.3 points and 8.1 rebounds despite the Pistons having a woeful season overall. On his ongoing progression, following the completion of his third season in the NBA, Stewart maintains there is still a lot of room to grow, stating;
“I feel I don’t have a ceiling. I feel like there’s a lot of room for growth,” the Pistons big man said after completing his third season. “I know when I first got drafted, people viewed me as a different player. But I feel like I put the work in to work on my skills to continue to develop my game. I don’t know what the final version is going to look like, but I’m going to continue to put the work in to build my game as much as possible.”
In 2021 Stewart became involved in an infamous incident with NBA legend LeBron James, during which the young star was left with a bloodied face. Los Angeles Lakers star James seemingly accidentally hit the Pistons man in the face, leaving him with a hefty gash over his eyebrow. Both players were ejected from the court.
Speaking after the incident, Stewart was not so sure about the apparent accidental nature of the incident, stating at the time;
"I watched the film. Me, personally, like I said, I didn't feel like it was an accident. But this is my last time addressing it. My main focus right now is on my team and my teammates, getting back to playing basketball. I'm not going to let that define who I am. I'm going to let what Detroit drafted me for define who I am and the way I play basketball."
That incident occurred very early on in Stewart’s career, and there is a definite sense that he’s going to be a big player in the coming years, whether with the Pistons or with a franchise that can actually challenge for an NBA title is another matter.
Stewart was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2020 before he was made part of a trade to the Houston Rockets and ended up with the Detroit Pistons soon after.