As another NBA chapter nears, it’s time for our season previews. So, what did the Pistons do this offseason? Oh…
Expected Conference Ranking: 9th
Best Move of the Offseason: Lol.
Worst Move of the Offseason: The NBA is an ecosystem. Each move impacts every other move. Let’s evaluate Detroit’s decision to sign a third center, Boban Marjanović, to a three-year, $21 million contract last summer:
- The contract itself made it impossible to sign Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to a max deal this offseason without exceeding the luxury tax. Something a team that just missed the playoffs usually won’t do, of course. Caldwell-Pope, arguably Detroit’s best player last season, was then allowed to leave for free.
- Without Caldwell-Pope, the team had to find another shooting guard. They settled on Avery Bradley. Bradley and Caldwell-Pope are similar players. Bradley has played three more NBA seasons than Caldwell-Pope and is going to be a free agent next summer. They traded their starting small forward, Marcus Morris, to get Bradley. Morris is on one of the best contracts in the NBA.
- Thanks to the very short-term money they were able to save in swapping a younger shooting guard with upside for an older one with less, the Pistons had a bit of money to play with that had to be spent in order to justify these moves in the first place. They spent it on Langston Galloway in the form of a three-year, $21 million contract. Galloway is not an average NBA player. He will be paid like one this season.
So the Pistons lost their starting small forward for the right to downgrade at shooting guard and sign another player to a bad contract… all so they could sign a third center to ANOTHER bad contract last offseason. Just stellar planning there, Stan.
Their Offense: There was a point in history in which the Reggie Jackson-Andre Drummond pick-and-roll was something to be feared. Then the basketball gods threw Jackson’s knee in a blender and Drummond more or less stopped trying.
This is the one thing that the Pistons offense is designed to do. That’s it. It’s the entire system. However, the two players involved in it can’t even run it properly. Bradley will space the floor on those plays. Tobias Harris might slightly. And that’s about it. Moreover, nobody else can dribble. Nobody else can shoot except for Jon Leuer and rookie Luke Kennard. This team has playoff aspirations and they have one passer.
Their Defense: Actually might be decent, however! Bradley plays a very infectious style of defense. It’s all energy and bravado even if Bradley isn’t a particularly loud player. He is a culture-setter. His teammates will see how hard he works on that end in straight up man-to-man defense and want to emulate him. That culture will die when he’s a 76er next July, but it will be fun for eight months!
The reality is that the Pistons defense will be as good as Andre Drummond wants it to be. If he tries, it will rub off on them and this could be a top-10 defense. If he doesn’t? Enjoy another late lottery pick from Duke. Grayson Allen is available.
Their Bench: Is rich at least. Leuer has been paid. Marjanović has been paid. Ish Smith has been paid. Galloway has been paid. The Pistons will pay Josh Smith more than twice what the Suns pay Devin Booker this season. Watch out, fashionistas! When these guys are in street clothes they’ll be sporting some of the nicest suits in the league.
Best Case Scenario: Jackson is healthy. Drummond tries. Bradley has a career-year ahead of free agency and the Pistons manage to win a playoff series.
Worst Case Scenario: An outright mutiny. That is actually in play. Stan Van Gundy wants to trade this entire team and they all want to trade him. If you hear of a literal hostage situation in an NBA locker room this season, it will come from Detroit.