Ed Stefanski and the rest of the Detroit Pistons’ front office staff did a great job of quietly adding players to the roster to help bring depth, versatility and overall talent to a team seeking to outperform the accomplishments of last season. Bringing aboard players like Derrick Rose, Tony Snell, Markieff Morris, Tim Frazier and Christian Wood helps strengthen the depth needed at each skill position. Stefanski also made sure to continue prioritizing having younger players on the team, like Bruce Brown, Khryi Thomas, Svi Mykhailiuk, Sekou Doumbouya, Jordan Bone and Louis King. Their development is crucial to the team’s success in future years to come, once Blake Griffin is out of his prime basketball years, and if players like Drummond or Jackson are traded or sign somewhere else in free agency.
Now that the Pistons have all these newly acquired talented players on their squad, it would be naïve to think that everyone is going to be able to play all 82 games this upcoming season. So we are going to predict and see which players will likely be rotational players off the bench for the 2019-20 NBA season.
MOST LIKELY OUT OF THE ROTATION:
Now no shade to the following players that I’m going to mention in this section, but either due to age, inexperience, current skillset or depth at a position, I can’t see these players being consistent rotational pieces next season.
Jordan Bone is a player many Pistons fans should be excited to watch play. He has off-the-charts athletic ability and shows potential as a playmaker at the professional level. But his road to becoming a constant rotation player at the point guard position will be tough, with Rose and Frazier already slated as point guards listed to back up Reggie Jackson.
Louis King and Deividas Sirvydis are labeled as shooters, with the hope that someday they’ll be able to contribute by spreading the floor with their three-point shooting ability. But they are still “prospects” and raw as players, and need more time for their games to develop.
Khryi Thomas is a capable player who brings shooting and tough defense that is deeply needed on this team. He is kind of a “tweener” for his position, due to him being neither a true point or shooting guard. His summer league performances were encouraging to see and left many people wondering if he can crack the rotation. Similar to Bone, the guard positions are just too stacked and it just might not be in the cards for Thomas to hurdle several other players to overtake one of the wing positions.
Returning players such as Langston Galloway and Thon Maker also seem to find themselves potentially out of the rotation as well. Galloway can be hot one game and cold the next. He did little to bring value to his worth as a player when placed at the point guard position last year. He offered very little if any playmaking ability at the point guard spot as well. Maker is a big that can spread the floor with his three-point shooting, but he too struggled with consistency shooting the deep ball. If he wants to keep his spot in the rotation, his three-point shooting will need to improve…he must become more of a physical presence when rebounding…and needs to be more assertive as a rim protector.
MOST LIKELY TO COME OFF THE BENCH:
Now before we determine which players will make the best logical options coming off the bench, we must first assess the logical choices for the starting lineup. We can safely assume that Jackson, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond will continue to man their current positions from last season, but here’s where it starts to get tricky. The wing positions are the two starting positions up for debate. In this instance, we will assume that when Stefanski made the trade for Tony Snell that the motivation was to bring on a quality player o potentially start at small forward. That now leaves shooting guard, which fits best for either Luke Kennard or Bruce Brown. Let’s insert Brown into the starting shooting guard spot, and here’s the reasoning for that as we now unveil the rotational bench players…
ROTATIONAL BENCH PLAYERS:
Ok, let’s be real…at this current time, Bruce Brown has not developed a consistent jump shot (sorry Bruce). His current shooting ability is not compatible with a player skillset of someone like Rose. Detroit signed Rose during free agency to exclusively make him the backup point guard. Aside from last season, where Rose shot 37% from the three-point mark, he is not someone who is a consistent jump shooter. Kennard, on the other hand, is. He shot 39% from deep last season and is proving to be an efficient playmaker both on and off the dribble, while also providing spacing for Rose on the wing.
Another shooter that should be able to help with spacing the floor and point guard duties in a pinch is Svi Mykhailiuk. During the NBA Summer League, Svi was consistently showcasing his lethal three-point shot-making skills and building a case as to why he should be a regular rotational player.
Rounding out the other forward spot is Markieff Morris, another player that will bring instant toughness to this team and can offer some inside-outside shooting ability. He could potentially crack the starting lineup at the 3-spot, but could come off the bench and be a great backup for Griffin when he needs to rest.
The next two names are players who could potentially shake up the entire rotational lineup: Sekou Doumbouya and Christian Wood. Beginning with Sekou, the Pistons most recent first-round draft pick, he oozes with potential. His game is being labeled with a ceiling comparable to players such as Pascal Siakam and Giannis Antetokounmpo, based on when they first came into the league as relative unknown commodities. Doumbouya is a big that runs the floor feverishly and has a defensive game that is constantly improving. Glimpses of that kind of talent could entice Pistons coaches to give him adequate minutes sooner than expected to see how he fares against elite competition.
Wood might turn out to be one of the best pickups by Stefanski all offseason. He offers everything that a team could ask for out of a player at the center position. Based on footage of Wood’s game during his stint with the New Orleans Pelicans, he runs the floor well whenever in open space which leads to dunks or opportunities at the free-throw line. He also competes when rebounding and defending, and can occasionally make a three-point jumper. If Wood can beat out Maker in training camp and the preseason, he could see himself as the backup center to Drummond.
Injuries or trades can always affect the outcome, and while we can make some guesses of injuries based on history, it is best not to think like that in August. The team is arguably the deepest it’s been in years and, with Dwane Casey at the helm, the odds (for now) seem to be in our favor for a successful season and a return to the playoffs. Now a deeper postseason run is the next goal.