The Detroit Pistons have been stuck in NBA purgatory for nearly 10 seasons now. That has to change in 2018 in order for Detroit to be champions once again.
Since the Flip Saunders era ended in 2007-2008 season, the Detroit Pistons have experienced only mediocrity. In fact, it has only reached the playoffs two times in the past 10 seasons. 2018 is the year that a decision has to be made about the future of Detroit basketball.
The Pistons clearly have two options. They must either go all-in, or fold and sell the talent they have. It is clear by their 22-25 record at this point of the season that this team isn’t set to win a championship on its own. Yes, they have talented players, but it pales in comparison to that of the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers. You would have to be nuts to truly believe that this team will win a championship.
Another huge problem they have is bad contracts. Backup center Boban Marjanovic is making seven million dollars per season, but in his two years in Detroit, he has averaged 8.5 minutes per game.
Likewise, shooting guard Langston Galloway is making roughly seven million per season. The guy is shooting 38 percent off the bench on about six attempts per game. His lack of efficiency has just killed the Pistons in different parts of the season.
2018 has to be the season the Pistons decide they are going to contend or start over because of how weak the East is about to become and how deep the incoming draft class is.
Why they should go All-in
The Pistons could definitely go for it all. They have some stars on their roster in Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, and Andre Drummond. Detroit lacks superstar talent to put it over the top. It doesn’t have ‘the guy’ who can absolutely take over a ball game.
The problem is that those are hard to come by. With the era of super teams that we live in, superstars draw in each other. I don’t know if Drummond and Harris would be enough to persuade a top talent to Detroit. Guys can join Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City Thunder or LeBron James wherever he is going. The Pistons lack that type of X-Factor that sets them apart from the rest of the league.
That has reigned true for the past 10 seasons. What high-level free agent has expressed interest in playing in Detroit in that time frame? The top free agent the Pistons have signed since 2008 is Josh Smith… and how did that turn out?
For this exact reason, for the Pistons to really contend is via trade. This would mean seeing some of the young talent the Pistons have be on the move. Stanley Johnson, for some inexplicable reason, is still coveted by some general manager’s in the league. Luke Kennard is looking to be Klay Thompson-esque which you can read more about here. Former first rounder Henry Ellinson is still on the club. And of course they would have any future picks to deal as well. The Pistons would have to sacrifice their entire future and go for a win-now attitude.
Any deal to propel the Pistons into contention would have to come this season. With LeBron likely leaving Cleveland, the Eastern Conference is going to be open for the taking. The favorites right now are the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. Detroit could add its name to the mix if it can find the superstar talent it desperately needs.
Why the Pistons need to tank
Detroit should consider tanking because of the value they have on their roster. If Drummond became available, the Pistons would get a haul for him. I’m talking two talented young players and a top pick.
Centers are not necessarily a top priority by many teams right now, but Drummond’s talent is undeniable. He would be an upgrade at that position for almost any contending team.
Detroit would also have the possibility of moving Reggie Jackson, Bradley, and Harris for first round picks. Both of these starters would have the potential to be a solid sixth man or starter on certain contending teams.
In all trades, the Pistons should attempt to stockpile as many 2018 first round picks as they can. The 2018 Draft Class is DEEP. There are foreign players like Luka Doncic available along with potential superstar talent like Trae Young, DeAndre Ayton, Mohammed Bamba, and Marvin Bagley. Even Michael Porter Jr. (the former #1 overall recruit) will fall in the draft after his injury. There are so many others that I didn’t even list. This class is unbelievable, and if there is a year to tank, 2018 is that year.
The Pistons need to do something.
Detroit has to make a decision. Fans are getting fed up with the team not being good enough to truly contend for a title. In order to do so, they have to make some roster moves to get a superstar, or to get a lot worse to get better. Time will tell for the Pistons, but if they wait any longer than 2018, they could miss a real opportunity to improve this team and their future.