DBB on 3: Grading the Pistons’ offseason

Detroit Bad Boys

We’ve reached the doldrums of the NBA’s offseason. There’s no draft to analyze, no Summer League to over-react to, and no free agency to spit #HotTakes about. No, we’re in the final stretch before training camp kicks off. From the draft to free agency, the Detroit Pistons had an interesting offseason. We analyzed it and gave our grades:

1. How would you grade the Pistons’ additions in the NBA Draft?

Ben Gulker: A. Cade Cunningham, Luka Garza, and Isaiah Livers are all good picks for me.

Brady Fredericksen: A. When you landed the best player in Cunningham, it’s easy to throw an A-grade out there. I’m not quite as high on Livers as some are, but I’m interested to see if he can be developed into a Svi-type player. With Garza, I understand the concerns with his athleticism/defense, but his offense is good enough to give him NBA value in some form. And, hey, I was alone on Isaiah Stewart Island last year — maybe I’ll luck into another?

Justin Lambregtse: I would give it an A. Just the fact that they didn’t overthink the number 1 pick and took Cade already makes it an A. I am a big Isaiah Livers fan, especially at pick 42, and although he annoyed me a lot in college, getting Luka Garza at 52 is an absolute steal.

enbiejowiec: Drafting Cade in itself should be A+. For the other picks they ended up with, Livers, Garza and Balsa Koprivica aren’t bad, either. Isaiah can be next Saddiq. There are some Laimbeer-esque traits in Luka (mean screens, rebounding, elbows, triples), that make you can’t resist but root for him. And Balsa can grow into more athletic Kelly Olynyk. With all this said, I can take that we didn’t take Sandro Mamukelashvili with available picks.

ScottFL: A+. They got Cade.

MotorCityHoops – Bryce Simon: I would give the draft an A. No matter who you give the credit for it, at the end of the day they end up with Cade Cunningham. As far as the 2nd round picks go, Livers seems like a great fit for what this team needs and Garza has already shown himself to be a worthy NBA project. If I had one complaint it would have been taking Jericho Sims instead of Balsa Koprivica.

Steven Pelletier: A. It’s hard to give the team anything else considering they had the number 1 overall pick and they took the guy far and away the number one overall player. While I would have liked to have seen them get back into the back half of round one for guys like Usman Garuba, Bones Hyland, and Jaden Springer, I imagine it was incredibly difficult to do so seeing as they actually had to attach a good second round pick in #37 to get OFF of Mason Plumlee’s deal. Livers is a good fit, Garzilla is a great gamble as a stretch big, Balsa is not what I would have done but it’s 57 so in the end it will say more about Troy Weaver and the scouting department if he works out in any capacity.

2. How would you grade the Pistons’ additions (while factoring in their subtractions) in NBA free agency?

Ben Gulker: C. I am not as high on Kelly Olynyk as others are, especially at his age, and the Trey Lyles signing is baffling to me. But the CoJo and Diallo contracts are extremely reasonable value deals. No long-term contracts is my favorite part, honestly. They won’t have a ton of room in the immediate future, but they aren’t locked into any of these contracts for too long.

Brady Fredericksen: B. Bringing back Joseph and Diallo was smart, especially at the cost. Same with Frank, who is going to be a very important piece as a shooter. Olynyk is capable of a lot of the playmaking that Mason Plumlee brought to the Pistons and, while he isn’t as good on the boards or athletically, his shooting is more valuable. Lyles though? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Justin Lambregtse: I would give it an A as well. They kept their own guys like Frank Jackson, Hami, Saben Lee, and Cory Joseph. I love the Kelly Olynyk addition. They also didn’t break the bank and overpay anybody and left flexibility for next year when they will have a lot more cap space. I’m not huge on the Trey Lyles signing, but it’s such an insignificant signing for little money, that I won’t let it bring down my grade.

enbiejowiec: C. At the moment, the moves don’t add up like they did last year. We sacrificed the ability to trade back into the first round and/or draft someone with upside like JT Thor in the second, to sign Kelly Olynyk. With the signing of Trey Lyles that indicated that we want to put our youngsters in position to fight for the play-in. But then, instead of continuing this path, we settle on adding two vets (Cory Joseph and Rodney McGruder) who are here to school the youngsters while we fight for the lottery odds. Moreover, addition of these two vets might cost us another young prospect with high potential as Sekou Doumbouya might be the odd man out of the process of trimming the roster to 15 players. If the aim all the way was to continue to lose competitively, I think we could get other stretch bigs (Baynes, Kaminsky) and veteran guards (Teague, Dellavedova) without undermining our ability to acquire more young talent and messing with the cap space for next offseason. Even the great deals given to Frank and Hami don’t fix that problem.

ScottFL: A+. Hami was a bargain, and failing to meaningfully address rebounding and interior defense sets them up for another high pick in 2022, while Olynyk provides spacing for developmental purposes.

MotorCityHoops – Bryce Simon: I would give the free agency period a B+. No matter how it got done they upgraded Mason Plumlee with Kelly Olynyk who fits the needs of the Pistons better (AND created an $8 million trade exemption that I feel like sometimes goes overlooked). Outside of that, nothing spectacular BUT they did not lose any young members of the core and thought the re-signings that were made were made at a GREAT team value.

Steven Pelletier: A again. Olynyk is an upgrade from Plumlee. I liked Wayne Ellington, but he was not going to get meaningful minutes going forward. Trey Lyles is a little iffy, but low-risk stretch 4. They re-signed everyone that had great potential to be in the rotation with Frank Jackson and Hamidou Diallo. My only gripe is that I wished they could have inked these guys for 3 years to get their bird rights. Saben came back on that 3 year deal though! Major plus there. Glad Rodney McGruder came back as team and players are a good match.

3. What is your overall grade for the Pistons this off-season, and how do you feel about the team going into this season?

Ben Gulker: B. Again, after drafting Cade the best part for me is avoiding long-term contracts. I don’t like every individual move, and it feels a little scattershot as a whole. But the focus feels like it remains on the youngsters with veterans plugged into placeholder positions until it’s time to make the next big move. Unless Cade is a god among men as a rookie, I don’t think they’re going to win a lot. I continue to see them as being a couple years away from being good, but I’m okay with that and excited about the upcoming season.

Brady Fredericksen: B+. It was a good offseason. The Pistons will be better, period. I’ve often wondered what last year’s team would have finished if they hadn’t punted the final 1.5 months of the season? I think they could still stink, but the best-case scenario looks a lot like the Charlotte Hornets last season — scrappy, young and fun in play-in game territory.

Justin Lambregtse: I give it an A. It was a relatively quiet off-season, but they got Cade and that is all that matters. The fact that they kept their own RFAs on very reasonable deals and didn’t break the bank in free agency makes it an A. Outsiders probably don’t agree because it wasn’t flashy, but they did basically all that they needed to do and didn’t try to do too much and get too fancy.

enbiejowiec: I withhold the final judgment until the final roster is set. Even making such a huge move as drafting a potentially franchise player don’t release you from trying to win at every detail. So far the details look messy. But Troy Weaver has time to fix it. There’s also one more thing that blurs to some extent my feelings about the team next season. Detroit lost all three of their main assistant coaches. Their replacements can be very good, but I particularly doesn’t feel too good about Sean Sweeney’s departure. Though, it’s by no means on Troy or Dwane Casey.

ScottFL: A+. Lose the right way! Wallow for Paolo!

MotorCityHoops – Bryce Simon: Overall I would give it an A-. The roster was obviously upgraded and Weaver did everything possible to fill the 2 biggest glaring needs, a star (Cunningham) and shooting. There are obviously other holes left to fill but you can only do so much in 1 off season AND the front office was able to do everything they did without compromising future cap and roster flexibility. I may be higher on what this team will do in the 2021-22 season than I should BUT I don’t think anyone can doubt how great of a foundation is being built and how bright the future seems to be.

Steven Pelletier: A. So I am a broken record here with the grades, but really how can you not see the plan and applaud it at this point? Olynyk cheaper than other deals like Doug McDermott in San Antonio and Evan Fournier to the Knicks. Also similar to Richuan Holmes deal in Sacramento, but he signed for 4 years and does not have the array of offensive skills Olynyk has. Lyles is only 2 years at about 2.5 million per year with a team option so the team can get out of it after one if they want. I continue to feel very good about Troy Weaver’s moves and direction he wants the team to go as internal development is stressed now with all the young guys they brought back and free agency seems to be utilized to bring in pieces that make sense. Will be intrigued in a year or two how all this development goes and if more high profile free agents gain more interest due to the way Weaver handles his business.

As always, give us your thoughts in the comments:

1. How would you grade the Pistons’ additions in the NBA Draft?

2. How would you grade the Pistons’ additions (while factoring in their subtractions) in NBA free agency?

3. What is your overall grade for the Pistons this off-season, and how do you feel about the team going into this season?

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