By: Robert Banas
2018 Record: 41-41 3rd in the Central Division- 8th Seed in the Eastern Conference
|Christian Wood||$1,645,357 Non Guaranteed|
|Joe Johnson||$1,620,564 Non Guaranteed|
|Bruce Brown Jr.||$1,416,852|
|Todd Withers||$898,310 Non Guaranteed|
|Donta Hall||$898,310 Non Guaranteed|
|Louis King||2 way|
|Jordan Bone||2 way|
|Guaranteed Total:||$130,977,975 Guaranteed Total|
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG Reggie Jackson
SG Bruce Brown
SF Tony Snell
PF Blake Griffin
C Andre Drummond
Other Bench Pieces
Markieff Morris, Christian Wood, Thon Maker, Langston Galloway, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk
4th Quarter Lineup
Point Guard Depth
With very limited money, the Pistons made some money moves this offseason that should bring some much needed depth to the team. Ed Stefanski was able to sign the former MVP D-Rose to run the second team. Lots of people liked Ish Smith, but when Reggie Jackson would get hurt, Ish and the 3rd string guards were not able to fully pick up the slack. With the signing of Tim Frazier as well, there is way less concern for the third string point guard being a mismatch. The Frazier signing is a huge given the injury history of Rose and Reggie.
Along with improving point guard depth, the Pistons added some young talent via the draft. Although the players drafted probably will not make an immediate impact, it is good to see some fresh new talent on the roster that could succeed in the future. With the 15th pick, the Pistons took a long shot in Sekou Doumboya. This is the exact type of pick the Pistons needed to make. They needed to take a long shot. Their draft success has been lacking in recent years. They can only hope and pray that Sekou eventually becomes an athletic star that develops in a few years, similar to Pascal Siakam. Recent stars drafted at 15 include last year’s MVP Giannis and last year’s Finals MVP Kawhai Leonard. In the second round of the draft, the Pistons struck out in my opinion. They had the chance to pick Kevin Porter Jr. with pick 30, but instead, traded that pick for some second rounders and picked up the unathletic option from overseas, Deividas Sirvydis, and a point guard that does not seem to do anything extremely well in Jordan Bone out of Tennessee. Bone is very athletic, but Detroit has Reggie, Rose, and Frazier at point guard already. The Pistons can only hope Sirvydis will be the power forward version of Luke Kennard.
Tony Snell Trade
One of the more interesting moves the Pistons made was trading John Luer for Tony Snell and pick 30. With this, they got rid of Luer’s awful salary and got their new starting small forward for at least this season. Snell is likely the best natural small forward the Pistons have had since Marcus Morris. He is a good shooter and a good defender. Unfortunately, his salary is kind of a burden with cap hit of about 11.5 million for this year and next year. It would be nice to trade Snell in this offseason, as the Pistons have a lot of other bad contracts coming off the books such as Josh Smith, Langston Galloway, Reggie Jackson, and possibly Thon and Andre.
The other moves the Pistons made are huge for their bench unit. In limited preseason action, against the Mavericks specifically, the second team showed some great potential. The two-headed-dragon offensive attack of Derrick Rose and Luke Kennard should give opposing backcourts problems on defense. Signing Markieff Morris and Christian Wood looks smart as they look to be upgrades over Zaza, Thon Maker, and John Luer. Christian Wood was a great find and better be on the roster when the season starts. He is extremely athletic, rebounds well, and will provide lots of offensive firepower of the bench. He already has 2 insane poster dunks in the pre-season. I hope the coaching staff plays him over Thon as Andre’s backup, even though I respect Thon’s defense and hustle. Morris has lost a step since injuring his neck, but Detroit loved the other Morris twin, and it is always good to have another Bad Boy on the roster. These new guys paired with sniper, Luke Kennard, could be a strength for the Pistons this upcoming season.
Reggie Jackson is supposedly healthy for the first time since his great 2015-16 season where he averaged 19 points per game. Last year, he improved his 3 point shooting to shooting at a 36.9% clip. Still, many Detroit Pistons fans still hate on Reggie and don’t think he is the right Point Guard to lead their team. Though it is a contract year, and he is healthy, so maybe we will see flashes of 2015 Reggie. In the preseason so far, his shooting has been suspect. Look for him to have similar numbers as last year and average around 15 points and 5 assists per game.
Bruce Brown may be poised for a breakout year. Last year, he averaged around 4 points per game on 39.8% shooting and shot an even worse 25.8% from three. With that pitiful offensive performance, it is not hard to see how his stats can improve. An already elite defender, Brown reminds me a lot of an Eric Bledsoe archetype of a player. Bledsoe, who used to be known as mini Lebron, had similar stats as Brown in his rookie year. However, after development, Bledsoe eventually became a 20 point per game player that is also a dog on defense and in his prime. In 5 years or so, don’t be surprised if Brown is putting up 15 points per game and playing All-NBA level defense like Bledsoe. Brown has shown flashes of productivity with an elite Summer League triple double performance, and by getting into the heads of star offensive players like Luka Doncic this preseason. I wish you could combine the offensive skills of Luke Kennard and the defensive prowess of Brown to create a perfect shooting guard for the Pistons roster.
There is not much to say about Tony Snell. He does not excite me that much. If he can be a knock down shooter, hitting corner threes at a 40% clip for the Pistons, he will be a good compliment to the starting lineup. If he can improve and play like his former teammate and former Piston Khris Middleton by hitting 3’s and playing lockdown defense, look for the Pistons to make some noise in the East.
There is not much bad to say about Blake Griffin. He is Detroit’s superstar. He is their leader. He is their Bad Boy. They just need him to stay healthy. With a full year of team chemistry with Drummond and others, maybe his offense will flow better. If he averages over 20 points per game, plays over 70 games, and maybe even improve his three point shooting, there will be nothing to complain about.
Andre Drummond is so frustrating. He is so good yet so bad. He’s an elite rebounder, but still has an ugly post game. He will work on his shooting all summer and still throws up bricks. He’ll get a 20 and 20 game and hustle his butt off one day and then looks sloppy scoring 8 points the next game. Andre just needs consistency. Sadly, it looks like Tom Gores and the Pistons will extend him for the max next season. I am a member of the trade Drummond for D’Angelo Russell crowd. Throw in a first rounder and our overseas prospect Deividas Sirvydis so we can pair up D-Lo and Blake PLEASE.
Predicted Record: 538 RAPTOR Projects 36-46 record
(source: https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2020-nba-predictions/ )
My Prediction: 44-38 7th Seed in the East (+3 wins due to improved bench play)
Eastern Conference Predictions
- Magic/ Heat/ Hawks?
The Pistons are sadly not on the level of the two top teams in the East (Bucks and 76ers). Once KD returns next year, Brooklyn will also be a top team in the East. The Pacers improved drastically and have a filthy defensive team. Oladipo, Brogdon, and Turner look to lead the Pacers to a top 3 finish in the East. From 4-8, this can be a complete coin flip. I am confident that the teams from 4-7 will get in. These teams are simply too talented not to get in. The Celtics lost Al Horford, but will have less drama with Kemba replacing Kyrie. The Nets replaced D-Lo with Kyrie and got Deandre Jordan, Taureen Prince, and eventually will get KD. The Raptors were great in the regular season last year even when Kawhai was on load managing. They will slip a little, but the improvement of Pascal Siakim should be a good positive for Toronto. The Pistons didn’t lose much, and improved their bench a ton. The starting lineup is pretty much the same except with the improvement of Tony Snell over Wayne Ellington. Derrick Rose is huge off the bench and Luke Kennard will improve. Luke should take all of Langston Galloway’s minutes and shots. If Luke plays like he did in the playoffs last year, the Pistons could make some noise in the East. Former 3x NBA All Star, Detelf Schrempf, had a hot take that the Pistons would make in to the NBA finals this season. We’ll see about that.