The Dilemma Surrounding Christian Wood and the Detroit Pistons

 

Fans of the Detroit Pistons had quite the roller coaster of emotions during its first offseason with Troy Weaver at the helm.

It started on November 16th, two days before the draft as they moved Bruce Brown to the Nets for Dzanan Musa and a second, sending the signal early that Weaver wanted to shape this team his way.

When draft night came around, Weaver selected Killian Hayes, a fan favorite for a majority of Piston fans during the draft process, at number seven overall to be the leader of the rebuild and the offense.

Weaver then grabbed Isaiah Stewart with the 16th pick, something that stunned most on Piston’s Twitter. He then doubled down on stunning moves by trading Luke Kennard (and later reported four second-round picks) for the draft rights of Saddiq Bey, one of the more highly touted 3-and-D guys in the draft. 

Then free agency came around and the wheels came off the track as they signed not one but two centers to multi-year deals in Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor while also dishing out $60 million over three years to Jemari Grant and a one-year veteran minimum deal for former top-five pick Josh Jackson.

He capped off his deals with a three-team deal that sent Trevor Ariza to the Thunder with the Mavericks, sending back Delon Wright to reunite him with Dwayne Casey.

While the moves may seem odd on the surface, Weaver made it a priority to bring in long athletic defenders (Okafor not included) to have most of the focus shift towards the offensive end of the court to help develop the rookies and to get Grant acclimated into a bigger role offensively. 

For some, these moves have been seen for what they are; a rebuilding team looking to help its youngsters in the long run rather than forcing yet another year of mediocrity and fighting for the eighth seed.

Others, however, have shown their disdain for many of the moves. 

Some weren’t happy Weaver moved an improving Brown for peanuts. Some thought it was laughable to attach picks to Kennard because of questions about his knees (which were answered after the Clippers extended him for $64 million over four years).

The biggest blunder of the offseason though may be the one that most haven’t been talking about, letting Christian Wood walk; though it might not have been all up to them.

Technically, they didn’t let him walk. Weaver was smart enough to attach him to a sign-and-trade that sent the Pistons the 16th overall pick that netted them Stewart, but the fact remains the same. 

It took a while for Wood to get consistent minutes in the Pistons rotation last season, as he only cracked 20 minutes five times before Christmas.

Once Ed Stefanski (Pistons Senior Advisor) traded Andre Drummond to the Cavaliers at the deadline, Wood averaged 34 minutes a game in his final 15 before the NBA halted its season.

Though the Pistons could only win two of those last 15, it had little to do with Wood’s play.

Wood averaged 23 points on about 56% shooting, nine rebounds, one block, and one steal in those final 15 games and showed that he was worthy of a multi-million dollar deal this offseason and can contribute to winning with others around him.

However, while the Pistons had him in their laps going into the offseason, it wasn’t a guarantee Wood was going to be back in a Pistons uniform for years to come. 

The writing was on the wall as early as June when Wood tweeted out, “I want to win .” It was clear which direction the Pistons would be taking this year and it was not competing for a playoff spot, let alone a title. So for Wood, Detroit probably wasn’t the place he wanted to be.

And as good as Wood is, as he showed in a 31 point, 13 rebound debut Saturday night for the Rockets in a loss, it’s hard to blame Detroit for not being able to retain him. 

Young guys rarely want to sign and wait to win after having a breakout season. You can point to Jerami Grant (only 26) for doing that exact thing with the Pistons, but in his case, he wants to expand his game and prove he’s more than an off-ball piece on offense. 

For Wood, he didn’t need to do anything else to prove to other teams that his game was legit. He showed that he can stretch the floor, and at 6’11’’ that is quite the skill to have. He also showcased his ability to create his own shot, something that every team in the league is looking for.

Wood’s entire value, however, can’t be shown just on a regular box score.

Last season, Wood ranked 18th in Player Efficiency Rating with a PER of 23.2. That ranked him ahead of guys like Devin Booker (32nd) and Jayson Tatum (36th). 

So while it would have been nice to bring back Wood and at the very least get more value in a trade for him, it wasn’t necessarily Weaver’s fault it couldn’t get done.

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