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The Detroit Pistons were 20-46 when the NBA season was suspended, 13th in the Eastern Conference, which means they aren’t headed to the Walt Disney World bubble. They are currently without a permanent GM, although Woj reports they may be closing in on three candidates. The most promising young player on their roster, Christian Wood, is an unrestricted free agent. The two most expensive contracts on their books for next season are Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose — both in their early 30s, well past their primes, and who, combined, missed 64 games last season.
Their lottery pick from last year’s draft, Sekou Doumbouya, is an ultra-raw 19-year-old who saw just 754 minutes last season. They hold a 42.1 percent chance of landing a top-four pick in this year’s draft, and a 10.5 percent chance of getting the top pick. But, unfortunately, it’s a draft class widely seen as weak in both peak and depth.
All that is to say, the Detroit Pistons still have a lot to figure out.
Where do the Detroit Pistons go from here?
Wood was a revelation in his first real extended opportunities after the Andre Drummond trade and, other than whatever residual value Blake Griffin might hold, he’s probably Detroit’s most interesting piece. In 12 games as a starter, Wood averaged 21.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and nearly a block and a steal per game, shooting 56.0 percent from the field and 40.8 percent on 3-pointers. But, again, he’s a free agent and even if the Pistons can coax him back they’ll be paying a heftier price for production that’s sustainability is still very much in doubt.
Reworking towards a core of Wood, Luke Kennard and Bruce Brown has its appeal, especially with Kennard’s shooting and secondary creator upside, and what Brown has shown at the defensive end. But that group doesn’t exactly scream championship upside, Brown and Kennard will both be 24 heading into next season and due for hefty raises themselves the year after that.
Maybe Doumbouya can take a leap next year and the Pistons can land someone in the draft like Onyeka Okongwu or Killian Hayes who has both upside and enough NBA-readyish skill to really raise the short-term ceiling on that group. But committing a lot of money to Brown, Kennard and Wood runs the risk of just putting the Pistons back in this same position in three or four years after an exhausting spring on the mediocrity treadmill.
The problem is, the Pistons aren’t in an ideal situation for pushing things in the other direction and really bottoming out either. They have no extra incoming first-round picks and even flipping Kennard, Brown, Griffin or Rose isn’t going to bring in any real draft capital or an even younger player who rolls the team’s developmental timeline back to align with Doumbouya’s.
The reality is that the Pistons are still working within the box of their previous decisions. It’s possible that one of those GM candidates is a wild visionary but if this organization is going to take some big swings now is probably not the time. It’s not exciting but the move seems to be — trying to re-sign Wood, trying to get any value-added you could in a trade for Rose and Griffin, and then seeing what happens with this year’s pick and next year’s player development.
It was a crazy weekend for the NBA’s planned resumption of the season in Orlando. There seem to be growing player concerns about two issues — the league’s ability to protect health and safety in Orlando and the way moving athletes into the bubble might hamper their ability to participate in and lead social justice activism. A lot is going to be changing over the next few days, so don’t count on anything running according to the current plan.
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