The state of the roster heading into training camp – which starts next week – gets us off and running in this week’s edition of Pistons Mailbag.
Matteo (@matteo Mantelli): Do you think our front office is comfortable with just Tony Snell, Svi Mykhailiuk and Iso Joe at small forward or will they try to bolster the position before the season opening? Maybe by using Galloway’s contract as a trade asset?
Langlois: If you were making up a traditional depth chart for the 2019-20 Pistons, Snell and Mykhailiuk would be 1-2 at small forward. But there’s nothing traditional about the way teams actually field lineups any longer, so that’s pretty much meaningless. I’m actually writing about that later this week as part of the Camp Questions series being posted at Pistons.com. The Pistons have Sekou Doumbouya also listed at small forward, but if push came to shove and they come to the conclusion that the 18-year-old isn’t ready for meaningful playing time quite yet, there are a number of players they’d use ahead of him at that spot – but Joe Johnson might not be one of them. At 38, he’s more likely a power forward behind Blake Griffin and Markieff Morris in today’s NBA. Other players on the roster who could see time at small forward: Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Langston Galloway. For what it’s worth, BasketballReference.com estimates that Kennard spent 82 percent of his minutes as a small forward last season. Galloway actually spent more of his time at small forward with the second unit after the trades of Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson, but the point holds: Casey will get his best players on the floor regardless of whether they are lining up at what would generally be considered their optimal position.
Matt (@MatSwrzntrb): What are your most anticipated Pistons storylines for the season?
Langlois: Does Reggie Jackson have a full season in him like he had the final half-season last year? How do the Pistons handle Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin with regard to giving them time off? Can Rose duplicate his career renaissance season at Minnesota with the Pistons? Does Sekou Doumbouya eventually force his way into the rotation? Is there anyone who can nail down the final few rotation spots and hang on to them or does Dwane Casey employ a more situational rotation at the back end of it? Does Joe Johnson have anything left if he wins the roster battle for the 15th spot? Was Christian Wood’s dominant G League season and eight-game sendoff with New Orleans the real deal if he’s the winner of the roster battle? Does Andre Drummond have another level in him as Casey asserts – and can he again log 75-plus games so the Pistons aren’t exposed as vulnerable to a lack of proven big men? Are there any lingering effects of Blake Griffin’s late-season knee injury and can he again carry the same load as a season ago even if the Pistons are more cautious with his usage? Will a Jackson-Rose tandem become an end-game staple? Who winds up playing most of the backup center minutes and how would the feel of that unit change if it winds up being Markieff Morris? Does Casey’s preference for playing fast with the second unit open the door for Tim Frazier to win a regular rotation role, perhaps pushing Rose off of the ball some to allow him to attack more often from the weak side? How quickly and effectively can Tony Snell assimilate with the starting unit and foster chemistry in the two-man game with Griffin, a la Reggie Bullock or Wayne Ellington? Can Luke Kennard take an assertive next step in his development and identify himself as a potential future All-Star candidate? That’s a few. Training camp starts in less than a week and we’ll probably have that many more pop up before the regular season opens Oct. 23.
Kenneth (Shelby Twp., Mich.): Any possibility the Pistons can look to acquire Devin Booker for Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway – and they certainly would want Thon Maker and/or Bruce Brown as part of the deal along with a lot of draft picks? A trade for Booker would complete our team and make us favorites in the East. My question is has there been any indication the Pistons have plans to explore this option and do you think Phoenix would be willing to do it since the Suns have so much money locked up into their guards – guys like Tyler Johnson, Josh Jackson, Ricky Rubio and now Ty Jerome?
Langlois: Johnson was part of Miami’s salary dump last season and likely isn’t in Phoenix’s long-term plans – or certainly not at the price tag ($19.2 million) he currently carries on the last year of his deal. Jackson was traded to Memphis in early July, the Suns cutting bait with the 2017 No. 4 pick after just two seasons. I think any notion that Phoenix is moving on from Devin Booker is filed under wishful thinking at this point. But nobody would accuse recent Suns management of having a clear vision and sticking with it, so check back at mid-season. If the Suns make Booker available, I suspect there would be a robust market. After missing on so many recent high lottery picks, it’s open to debate whether Suns ownership would make draft picks the focus of trade return. Every team would kick the tires on a Booker trade because he’s an incredibly gifted scorer. I suspect the Pistons getting involved with Booker would require them to do more than trade from the fringes, though Kennard is certainly an attention-getting starter to a trade package.
Steve (@StevenCPat): Consensus on Twitter is that Christian Wood is potentially odd man out for a roster spot. I think he outshines Thon Maker in training camp – potentially by a landslide. What is the vibe you are getting from Pistons personnel on Wood considering we really need a backup center?
Langlois: If Wood outshines Maker, he’ll almost certainly make the final cut. As it stands, I’d give Joe Johnson a 51-49 edge over Wood – if it actually comes down to a decision between those two, which assumes the Pistons don’t do anything else that would make it possible to keep both players if they prove worthy. The qualities that made Johnson a seven-time All-Star – an immaculate reputation for professionalism over 17 seasons, the ability to manufacture points and shoot from distance with the best of them – are intoxicating to any coach. Dwane Casey will need to see some evidence he still has enough in the tank to be able to get on the floor frequently enough to put them to use, but if you’re a player of Johnson’s stature you don’t sign with anyone without having some idea how it will play out. I’m not saying the Pistons promised Johnson a roster spot. But he likely has an idea that as long as he showed that his Big3 MVP season could still translate to the NBA that he’d be given every opportunity to win that last roster spot. If both Wood and Johnson make emphatic cases to make the Pistons 15-man roster, then it will be up to the front office to figure out a way to clear a roster spot to accommodate that outcome.
Noah (@noahStump): Do you expect any mid-season acquisitions or trades? Or do you expect our 15-man roster going into the season to look the same or similar going into a possible postseason?
Langlois: If you can tell me what their standing is on or about Feb. 1 – the record, the health of the roster, the performance of the players they’ve identified to surround the core and how that informs perceived needs at the time – then I’d have a puncher’s chance of guessing whether they’re likely or not to pursue trade options. As it is, I’m flying blind. It’s fair to guess front offices are always conducting due diligence to gauge ways to bolster the roster, but whether they can find a trade partner to suit their desires is always a different matter.
Txkeover (@TxkeoverX): Are there going to be new uniforms?
Langlois: Reprising my answer from the August 28 edition of Pistons Mailbag, with information provided by Jason George, vice president and creative director: The Association (white), Icon (blue) and Statement (gray) editions are unchanged from last season. The City Edition uniforms will be unveiled on Nov. 20, the earliest allowed by the NBA, and be worn for the first time on Nov. 29. As for throwbacks, they can only be worn in an anniversary year for the franchise. Eligible seasons in the near future would be 2021-22 (for the Fort Wayne Pistons) or 2027-28, which would be the 70th anniversary of the move to Detroit.
Red Alternates (@PlayoffKennard): When is media day?
Langlois: Media day is set for Monday afternoon at the Pistons practice facility in Auburn Hills, one of the very last times they’ll use the building before moving to their new Detroit facility – the Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center – the following week. Training camp opens the following day, this year to be held on the campus of Michigan State. The Pistons last year held camp at the University of Michigan.
JayO (@JayO48409302): Will the Pistons be a better team this year with a mixture of youth and veteran leadership?
Langlois: I think the individual parts added exceed the total of the individual parts subtracted. In: Derrick Rose, Tim Frazier, Markieff Morris, Tony Snell, Sekou Doumbouya, Christian Wood/Joe Johnson; out: Ish Smith, Jose Calderon, Jon Leuer, Zaza Pachulia, Wayne Ellington, Glenn Robinson III. I don’t think there’s much debate about Rose and Frazier being a more potent combination at point guard than Smith and Calderon. Frazier’s numbers were pretty similar to Smith’s last season and vastly outstripped Calderon’s, the person he most directly replaces. Morris is almost just as surely an upgrade over Leuer, at least the oft-injured Leuer of the past two seasons who was never able to get back to the level of his first 50 games of the 2016-17 season upon joining the Pistons. Snell will provide a defensive upgrade over Ellington and give the Pistons much of Ellington’s 3-point shooting – in quality if not in volume. Pachulia was rock solid the first half of last season, then tailed off. Replacing his minutes – from some combination of Morris, Maker and perhaps Wood – should be doable. Robinson was a non-factor as the season unfolded – as Doumbouya might be for some or all of this season, but if he speeds his learning curve he could be a true wild card. The biggest vulnerability I see for the Pistons is an injury to Andre Drummond that costs him more than a game or two here or there. I think they’ll handle backup center minutes just fine, but getting 48 minutes out of that spot from among Morris, Maker and Wood (if he’s on the roster) for an extended period might be problematic.
Published at Wed, 25 Sep 2019 18:47:55 +0000