It has been a very trying decade for the Detroit Pistons. They have had two playoff appearances, both coming as an eight seed leading to sweeps, haven’t had a draft pick higher than seven and have been living in the mediocrity zone of the NBA for as long as fans can remember.
In the first off-season with newly hired general manager Troy Weaver at the helm, Pistons fans hoped that was a sign for a rebuild. Though the moves from this offseason said otherwise, things are certainly headed in that direction after a 2-8 start to the season.
There was plenty of roster turnover from last year, as just four Pistons from the previous year’s team remained on the roster. Sekou Doumbouya, the team’s first-round pick a season ago, Svi Mykhailiuk and veterans Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, two players Pistons fans hope to see moved during the year for younger assets. Weaver made it clear early on that he was going to build this team his way.
- Bruce Brown to the Brooklyn Nets for Dzanan Musa and a 2021 second-round pick via Toronto
- A 2021 Top 20 protected first-round pick to Houston for the 16th pick in the draft and Trevor Ariza
- Luke Kennard and four second round picks to the LA Clippers for the 19th pick in the draft and Rodney McGruder.
- Future considerations to the Utah Jazz for the 38th pick in the draft.
- Trevor Ariza traded in a three team deal to Oklahoma City in exchange for Dallas’ Delon Wright.
The biggest head-scratching moves made by Weaver had to have been the Brown and Kennard trades. Brown, while some may not believe had a ton of value, brought back essentially just a second-round pick after they waived Musa before the start of the year. The Kennard deal for the pick would’ve been okay to swallow straight up, but the addition of four second-round picks showed how little the Pistons valued him.
2020 Draft Selections
- 7th overall pick Killian Hayes: Piston fans rejoiced when Hayes was selected with their top pick, but have been underwhelmed with his shooting ability and explosiveness so far. Though there is some glimmer of hope in his play as he’s shown off his tremendous passing ability and defensive skills not normally seen by rookies. A hip injury sustained during a game in Milwaukee has sidelined him for at least a month, but potentially the entire season which could push back his development as a lead guard.
- 16th overall pick Isaiah Stewart: The Stewart pick raised some eyes as most analyst projected him to go later in the first round and is more of an old-school big hanging around the basket rather than the perimeter. Though it may have been a reach, so far he has shown that what he lacks in ability he makes up for in effort and energy. He currently ranks third for rookies in rebounding while just playing 17 minutes a night and has shown much improvement from his college days guarding smaller, quicker guards out on the perimeter.
- 19th overall pick Saddiq Bey: Outside of Tyrese Halliburton, Saddiq Bey is looking like the steal of the draft. After getting little to no playing time the first few games of the season, he was thrust into a starting role because of injuries and took advantage of the opportunity. He is shooting 44% from deep on just under six attempts per game while grabbing five rebounds a night and making an impact defensively.
- 38th overall pick Saban Lee: Saban Lee has yet to make much of an impact this year, but in his one outing against Milwaukee he showed flashes of his bursting speed and relentless finishing. While most rookies will come in and play passive, Lee gave a spark to the unit on the court. A Rose trade later in the season could open up more playing time for Lee.
Free Agent Acquisitions
- Jerami Grant (Three years, $60-million): The national media had a field day with the announcing of this signing and it left many Piston fans befuddled. Denver offered Grant the same deal, but Grant said he was looking for more of an expanded role within the offense. After early struggles in the pre-season, Grant has shut down all of his critics. Grant is slashing averages of 25 points, six rebounds, a steal and a block while shooting 46% from the field and 37% from deep.
- Mason Plumlee (Three years, $25-million): Another signing that at first confused fans, Plumlee has quickly shown his worth for Detroit. While there are times he decides to go Iso on his defender (which is rarely what you want to see) Plumlee has been a beast on the boards grabbing nine a night including three offensive which puts him eighth in the league in that category. His full value will be seen helping Hayes navigate in the pick and roll once he returns from injury.
- Jahlil Okafor (Two years, $4-million): This is the oddest signing of the bunch. Plumlee looked to be the starter and Stewart his backup, but Weaver, a known lover of centers, brought in a third for the rotation. Okafor is fine on the block but always seems lost defensively. The improved play of Stewart ten games into the season may lead to more time with Okafor on the bench.
- Josh Jackson (Two years, $9.5-million): The former fourth overall pick has been bouncing around the league, including a handful of stops in the G-League. Weaver brought in the Detroit native, hoping he could revitalize his career. So far, the risk has been paying off. Jackson is averaging 12.5 points per game, and before an ankle injury that sidelined him for a game, his average was up to 17 points a night. He has shown he can get by just about anybody he matches up with, and while the percentages aren’t kind, his jump shot looks the best of his career. Jackson could be the biggest value of them all when it’s all said and done.
Though Grant, Bey and Jackson have outplayed expectations, this is still one of the worst rosters in the league. The best thing going for the team at the moment is that it doesn’t show any quit on the court. While racking up eight losses, none have come by over 15 points. They have shown the ability to fight and claw their way back into games, no matter the opponent. Those are the qualities you want to see from a young group. They may not win many games, but they won’t let you turn the TV off early either.