After inking a three-year/$20 million deal with the Pistons in 2015. For the most part, emulating the productivity and efficiency he brought to the Spurs the year prior, Aron Baynes was looking to again be a spark plug off Detroit’s bench, as he was arguably the most important piece of the Pistons’ mostly lackluster second unit. Coming into the 2016-17 season, the expectations were similar for the Australian center, and while he got fewer touches down low, he lived up to those not-so-lofty expectations. Also, with fan favorite Boban Marjanovic behind him and trade rumors attached to his name throughout the season due to his impending free agency, Baynes wasn’t always feeling the love from Detroit but turned in a solid season nonetheless.
Even with the Pistons going out and signing a 7’3 behemoth in Marjanovic this past offseason, coach Stan Van Gundy decided to run Baynes as the primary backup center for the majority of the season. Baynes, being one of SVG’s favorite options off the bench, always showed continuous hustle and energy when the team needed it. Just like last season, SVG would roll with Baynes late in games due to Andre Drummond’s poor free throw shooting and sometimes lackluster effort.
Even with a slight uptick in minutes this season, Baynes’ overall production took a slight hit, as he took fewer shots per game. However, his rebounding stayed nearly the same and he had a noticeable increase in efficiency across the board, improving his FG% from 51 percent to 54 percent and also watched one of his rare big man traits, free throw shooting, jump from 74 percent to 84 percent. With these slight improvements to his game, his frustrating weaknesses showed at times, as he frequently lost open rebounds and turned the ball over in the post, both things he has struggled with throughout his career.
Overall, Baynes did what was realistically expected of him by the team and coach Van Gundy. He continued to be a hard-nosed, grind-it-out center who gave everything he had on the court, even if that didn’t always lead to production.
However, sometimes it did:
In the upcoming offseason, Baynes will be an unrestricted free agent, making it hard for the Pistons to resign him with their current salary cap situation. Due to the exploding salary cap of the last couple seasons, Baynes will likely look for a larger payday elsewhere while the Pistons will look to the aforementioned Marjanovic at backup center. Even if Detroit has the opportunity to bring Baynes back to Motown on another deal, it would be in their best interest to let him walk, or else the money invested in Boban will go for naught over the next two seasons.
Regardless of where he goes, Baynes will continue to play the same role he’s played throughout his career, an energetic spark plug off the bench.
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