The Win-Now Pistons Not Looking In the Mirror

I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. (Michael Jackson)

Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has alerted all comers that the Detroit Pistons are about winning and not about development. According to reports, they are willing to trade their lottery pick for veteran help. They want to get in the playoffs. The presumption is they have a playoff ready team that is, perhaps, one player away. However the numbers say the Pistons need more than a veteran player, they need just about everything: point guard to speed up the pace, shot makers, a versatile offense, shot blocker, 3-point defender.

The Pistons biggest problem is they don’t score enough points. They don’t have a 20-point per game scorer. They don’t have a 19-point per game scorer. Or a 18-point per game scorer. And so they are in the same boat as the Lakers and 76ers and Kings and Magic. None of them have an offensive playmaker.

A 20-point scorer doesn’t solve all the problems but with the Pistons defense, if they had someone they could count on to create and keep possessions alive, they may have found their way into the playoffs this season. The primary problem with who the Pistons rely on to put the ball in the hole is that none of them are skilled three point shot makers. There are no 40% from three talents on the Pistons. Of players who play 20 minutes a game or more, Reggie Jackson is the best they have. Of players who play 20 minutes a game or more, only Jon Leuer and Tobias Harris had an offensive rating over 110.

Reggie Jackson had a horrible year, 41.9%. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope couldn’t even crack 40% shooting. Marcus Morris’ offense was equally dismal at 41.8%. Stanley Johnson who everyone bragged about as an athletic star of the future shot 35.3% and 29.2% from three. That is why the Pistons did not make the playoffs. No one could put the ball in the hole.

It is going to take more than one player to help the low level shooting talent.

The biggest problem for the Pistons is the cap. They have no room to maneuver. They cannot sign any free agents to a salary higher than the minimum. To fix this team they have to move pieces around. In this offensive league where three point shooters are coveted, who wants the gang who can’t shoot straight?

Free Agents: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (restricted). Reggie Bullock (restricted). Beno Udrih.

Highest Salary:  Andre Drummond $23,775,506. Tobias Harris $16,000,000. Reggie Jackson $16,000,000.

Opt-Outs: Aaron Baynes.

The Pistons made a big mistake in the Reggie Jackson contract. They need to get out of it and fast. Jackson is on the books for three more seasons and he has no opt-outs. His point guard skills are average at best, he doesn’t make players better, he is always looking for himself first. He wants to be the hero to prove some point no one even cares about. He sounds a lot like D’Angelo Russell but at least Russell is a third year player making $11 million less than Jackson.

If the Pistons were able to move Jackson and get a player in return and a draft pick they would be the better for it. What team is going to give up a veteran player for a lottery pick who may or may not even make it in the league three years down the line. The Spurs are looking for point guard help as Tony Parker is getting older, possibly even trading Paddy Mills and another one of the Spurs veterans but it is a dicey proposition given Jackson can sulk and pout and Chris Paul may be in San Antonio come November.

The Pistons are in the position of having signed above average players to contracts they can’t live up to and now the rubber has met the road. They don’t make enough of an impact to win games. If Andre Drummond’s offensive stats slide like they did this year than more is needed from everyone else. More is what the Pistons don’t have.

photo via llannaba