Pistons Lead

How Detroit Can Save Their Season


New Year, Same Pistons

Going into the month of December, Detroit was one of the positive stories in the league. They were sporting a solid 12-7 record, a top 10 defensive team, and Blake Griffin was playing like an early MVP candidate.

Then, December happened. Since the Pistons entered the final month of 2018, they have gone 5-12 and the rotation has been plagued by injuries.  There has even been at least one (albeit positive) team meeting.

Rather than dwelling on the negative, lets get in the true New Year’s spirit.  There are a couple New Year’s Resolutions that can possibly turn the Pistons season around.  It is not all completely in their control but changing things just slightly could get the team comfortably back in the running for the sixth seed in the East.

Get Healthy

Starting off with things the team can’t control, avoiding the injury bug will be huge for Detroit going forward. Over the last month alone, Reggie Bullock, Henry Ellenson, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Zaza Pachulia, Glenn Robinson III and Ish Smith have all missed games due to injury. Every team deals with injury, but for a team lacking quality depth to begin with, losing this many key cogs has left Dwane Casey’s group rather thin.

Luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Bullock, Kennard and Stanley are all back in the lineup and look to be healthy. Smith is due back in two weeks and this cannot happen soon enough. An over reliance on Jose Calderon as a back up to Reggie Jackson has sapped the speed from the second unit. Hopefully, Ish’s return can give the Pistons the roster that saw them off to the strong start.

Solidify the Roster

While every team is looking to fix up their roster for the stretch run, the holes in the Pistons’ roster have fans refreshing the trade machine regularly, trying to find the fix that will change their team’s destiny.  There is one glaring issue with this:

There are two major needs that could set the team back on the right track– strengthen the point guard rotation and add a wing that can be a threat on offense. Obviously, this is something every team will be after and the price won’t be low.

Find The Long Desired Answer at Point Guard

Detroit has always been connected to Markelle Fultz, but the better fit may be someone like Jeremy Lin. This is another name that has been linked to Detroit of late and Lin’s willingness to come off the bench, spot start when needed and whose contract is expiring after this season seems to work perfectly.  Something like Leuer and Robinson for Lin work under the CBA, but the Pistons would likely have to attach future picks to this sort of deal.

It is typically inadvisable to attach draft picks to anyone who is not a starter at the minimum, but Detroit entered win-now mode the moment they traded for Griffin last season– so making the playoffs is a must. Lin would solve a lot of issues for Detroit on the floor with his play. If it doesn’t work out, it saves the organization money the following season.

(Not So) Small Forward Needed

The other position of need is small forward. Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard have mostly been playing out of position to make this position feasible.  If Detroit could add a wing that could contribute offensively while allowing Bullock and Kennard to split minutes at their natural position of shooting guard, this could get the offense flowing again. The issue for some is the two names whispered the most among Pistons’ fans.

Detroit could go after Carmelo Anthony, who they infamously passed on in the draft all the way back in 2003 for Darko Milicic.  Anthony has certainly lost much of his former glory and has been away from the Rockets after falling out of the rotation.  With his value as low as it has ever been, the Pistons should at least explore the option.

The big move that could change the direction of the Motor City squad could be with the Wizards. Otto Porter Jr. is the type of player who would fit the roster perfectly. Yes, his contract is onerous and he is having a down year. However, a fresh start with little pressure could be exactly what Porter needs. This would require a major package of contracts given the current tax situation for Detroit, but if this could happen, it might just be what the Pistons need to finally return to the playoffs.




About Corey Rausch

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