NBA

Detroit Pistons 2020 Season: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Garrett Brooks | May 25th, 2020

The Detroit Pistons currently sit at a record of 20-46, which puts them near the top of the lottery if the season were to end today. Given the circumstances, it’s very possible the Pistons have played their final game of the season.

Even if they do get a handful more in, they’re not going to move much in lottery positioning. They have endured a tough season, with injuries hitting them hard right out of the gate. Further, a mid-season trade saw the foundation of their franchise leave, and an uncertain future is now ahead.

In the second installment of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, which will run for all non-playoff teams, we take a look at the Pistons 2019-20 season.

If you missed the Bulls breakdown, you can check it out here.

The Good

The Emergence of Luke Kennard

In his third NBA season, Luke Kennard showed the offensive skillset that made him the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft. While he’ll never be able to justify being picked one spot ahead of Donovan Mitchell, he at least has become an offensive weapon.

He shot 42.2% on catch and shoot 3’s, and improved his play-making to become a solid second or third distributor when on the court. He’s best when not featured, though Detroit may not have many options next year.

He spent much of this season injured, which is a bit concerning, but next year is the final of his rookie contract. That’s good news for Detroit, as they’ll have another year to evaluate the type of money they want to give him.

Christian Wood Claim

The Pistons claimed Forward/Center Christian Wood off of waivers on July 17th, 2019. What a find that turned out to be.

Wood broke out for a Pistons team lacking talent, at times being the lone bright spot in ugly losses. He finished the season with averages of 13.1 points per game, .9 blocks, 6.3 rebounds, on 56.7 shooting from the field. Wood also sunk the 3-ball at a 38.6% clip.

These numbers don’t fully do him justice, as he averaged just 21.4 minutes per contest. As the Pistons season result became clear, he got more time to shine. In the process, he had some monster performances for Detroit.

There is a potential downside regarding Wood, as he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Teams may show interest in him, though the lack of cap space in the league will give Detroit the chance to retain his services. They would be wise to do so, at the 24-year-old flashed moments of brilliance, and they can use all the talent/upside they can get.

The Bad

Waiting too Long to Pull the Trigger on Trades

Andre Drummond was traded after much speculation the past year or two, but the Pistons made it clear they waited a little too long on pulling the trigger. The board cleaning big man fetched a 2nd round pick and salary filler from the Cavaliers.

It’s hard to fully blame the Pistons here, as the market was non-existent for Drummond and they could only make a deal to get out of his player option next season. While all reports suggested he’d decline it, and the Pistons didn’t want to lose him for nothing, his trade market changed the tune coming from his camp. It now appears a lock he will opt-in.

The issue with this move is that Detroit let his value sink to its lowest point before making a move. Before the season, they could have moved him for either a protected 1st round pick(that would be a late first at best) or a young player that is worth taking a flier on.

Adding insult to injury, Detroit chose to hang on to Derrick Rose at the deadline. Rose was playing great for them and didn’t ask to be moved, but it’s hard to see how he fits with the team moving forward. It’s still possible they get value for him this off-season, but it’s also possible they could have done better at the deadline.

Contenders were interested and will be again this off-season. The question becomes, what will they give up during the off-season? Teams need immediate fixes in season, and Rose would have been that. Now those teams will have the opportunity to explore free agency before finalizing any trade.

The Ugly

Big Money Little Health

Blake Griffin has had an unfortunate few years. After being sold on being Mr. Clipper and resigning with the team, he was quickly shipped to Detroit. To make matters worse, his health has again been an issue.

Unfortunately for Detroit, his massive contract has become one of the hardest to move in the NBA. This season, he played in just 18 games while earning a salary of $34,234,964. Next year, he’s on the books for $36,595,996, followed by a player option at $38,957,028. ( Cap numbers via Spotrac.com)

Detroit gave up a lot in the trade to acquire him, including Tobias Harris. It now looks like he’ll be eating their cap for the next few seasons in a rebuild. Hopefully, for both Griffin and the Pistons, his health doesn’t continue being an issue.

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