The Detroit Pistons will be unable to go after the top names in free agency this offseason, such as Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler. They’re limited in cap space, however, they have holes to fill on the roster. They used the NBA Draft to shore up the wing spot by drafting Sekou Doumbouya and Deividas Sirvydis and trading for Tony Snell. Yet they still have to address their backup point guard position and backup center spot. Ish Smith, Wayne Ellington, Jose Calderon, and Zaza Pachulia are all free agents this offseason.
Smith is a key loss for the Pistons after serving as both their backup and emergency starting point guard through a three-year deal. There is a chance Detroit re-signs him still but in this article, we will be focusing on players Detroit could bring in, not retain. Pachulia, although he was not too impressive in his one-year tenure with the Pistons is still a void to fill considering he appeared in 68 games and played about 900 minutes. Ellington will be replaceable by a plethora of shooting guards on Detroit’s roster.
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First up, is the loftiest hope for the Pistons, Patrick Beverley. Is Beverley a star name? Absolutely not, but while people know him for his fiesty and uber-competitive play, most don’t know that he is also just a very good basketball player. He averaged 7.6 points, five rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game last season while shooting 39.7% from the 3-point line. He would come in behind Reggie Jackson on the depth chart, but could also start if Detroit suffered an injury at the one or the two. He’s been named to the All-NBA Defensive Team twice throughout his career and his toughness and mentality would fit hand-in-glove with Blake Griffin. Those same attributes would also quickly cement himself as a fan-favorite throughout the state.
Paying for his services, however, will be the challenge. He’ll have a slew of suitors and Detroit may only be able to offer him as much as $9 million a year. He will likely command more. However, he would be a huge help for Detroit, and if he is attainable, he should be option number one on the Pistons’ free agent target board.
Next up is Dewayne Dedmon. The 6’11” center is coming off a career season with the Atlanta Hawks in which he averaged 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. After beginning to display a 3-point shot in the 2017-2018 season, he used last year to show he could knock down long guns at an above league average rate, shooting 38.2% from deep on 3.4 attempts per game. He also averaged 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. Detroit struggled as a rebounding team last season, and Dedmon would greatly help them in that facet. He was 20th in the league with a 25% defensive rebounding percentage.
But Dedmon was a starter last year with the Hawks and may want to remain in that type of a role. Detroit will stand firm with Andre Drummond starting, which means Dedmon would have to come off the bench. But he would be an ideal fit and would allow to Detroit to not have to burden Drummond with as large of a role as he did last season, which may have led to some of his shortcomings in the first half of the year.
They’ll have the same issue paying for Dedmon as they would Beverley, but the need is certainly there.
Following Dedmon is another center, but this one is about more attainable. Robin Lopez, a noted Piston killer just as his brother, would be a vast improvement over Pachulia. The 31-year old averaged 9.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season, but with Wendell Carter, Lauri Markkenan, and rookie center Daniel Gafford, the Bulls really don’t need Lopez and he should hit the open market in search of a new team. He is not a floor spacer, but he finishes around the rim and fits in Detroit’s offensive system. On the other end, he is an effective rebounder and demonstrative shot blocker.
Price wise, Lopez could command around $6 million, a cheaper price than Dedmon at perhaps the least important position in the league. He would provide value on the court, but would also bring veteran leadership to the team. His no-nonsense attitude, like Beverley and Dedmon, would fit with the team and city.
Moving back to point guard brings us to Cory Joseph. The quintessential backup point guard is actually very comparable to Patrick Beverley. He is an elite defender, competitor, and good distributor. However, he is not the same level of shooter, and his percentage from beyond the arc last season is rather worrisome. He shot just 32.2% from deep last year, and has shot 35% or better from long range in just three of the eight seasons he played in his career so far. And because of that, the question of fit arises with the Pistons. Their bench next season could consist of Bruce Brown, Sekou Dombouya, Thon Maker, and, for example, Robin Lopez. That is not a noted group of marksmen and placing in an all-bench lineup like that would be disastrous. But if Detroit adds a stretch four or five and perhaps Khyri Thomas finds himself in the rotation, then Joseph could be plugged in and be a fit.
Finally, the last player to hit on is Jeff Green. A little older, Green is now primarily a power forward, but has even transitioned to playing some small-ball center. He is a good scorer, solid rebounder, and averaged the most assists per game last season since his second year in the league. He shot 34.4% from deep last year, which isn’t a great mark, but adequate enough.
Green is almost 33 years old and may try to secure a multi-year deal to lock in a little more money over a greater period of time. The Pistons may want to stray away from him if that is the case.
With that being said, those are the five most realistic free agent options for the Pistons come 6:00 p.m. on June 30th. If you enjoyed the content please consider liking the video and subscribing to the channel for more content just like this.
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All statistics via Basketball-Reference