Detroit Pistons Future Outlook
I'm going to start a series on the future outlook of NBA teams, starting with the ones that aren't making the postseason and likely getting to the rest before the Finals concludes in four months. I'm starting with the Detroit Pistons, because with no more Reggie Jackson or Andre Drummond, and with Blake Griffin out, this team looks like a disaster for the rest of the regular season. While they aren't that far away from the eighth seeded Orlando Magic (5.5 games back), they are closer to last place in the East, and are without those three players now as well as young, budding star Luke Kennard. Let me put it this way; assuming Blake doesn't play again this year, the third leading scorer on the Pistons is Christian Wood (second if Kennard doesn't either). Yeah, this will be an awful finish, so let's see if they have any hope in the near or long-term future.
WHO'S GONE: PG Brandon Knight, F/C John Henson, G Langston Galloway, F/C Christian Wood, C Thon Maker, F Markieff Morris (player option)
Markieff Morris will likely want to escape this franchise after somewhat foolishly thinking they had a real chance, but aside from that there isn't anything here too valuable to a club. Wood, Morris and Galloway I guess are double-digit scorers, but somebody has to score. Morris has started about a third of the games at power forward, and Wood is the starting center now. Galloway is a nice bench guard. Knight and Henson were salary dumps to account for Andre Drummond. Thon Maker is a bust.
All in all, re-signing Galloway and Wood probably wouldn't be a bad move for Detroit, but they should definitely not do so unless they are on club-friendly deals or short-term.
*Tony Snell has a player option he will likely exercise, and Svi Mykhailiuk has a very club friendly team option that they will likely exercise, so I'm not including them on this list
PF-Blake Griffin, Sekou Doumbouya
SF-Tony Snell, Svi Mykhailiuk
SG-Luke Kennard, Khyri Thomas
PG-Bruce Brown, Derrick Rose
So the depth chart lacks center entirely, but the two-deep is full of young players and a couple of aging stars. Rose is definitely on a trade-friendly contract for this off-season or the trade deadline, and even Griffin's isn't ridiculous with only two years left on his super-max deal. Snell could also be a nice trade piece if Detroit eats the money.
Even with those guys, there is not a lot left in Detroit. A quartet of Doumbouya, Mykhailiuk, Kennard and Brown is solid, but very unproven and mostly role players. Doumbouya and Kennard both have the potential to be a third-option on a good team, but they aren't who this team should build around. They are waiting for that guy still.
That's always the question that I'm trying to answer with these, and with Detroit I think a 3-5 year rebuild (including this season) needs to happen. Even if they pick up a player or two of Hassan Whiteside or Gordon Hayward's caliber and land the number three pick in the draft, do you really think this team is all of a sudden a playoff threat in the East?
Let's assume Detroit gets the third pick and takes James Wiseman for the empty five spot, and takes a collegiate veteran like Payton Pritchard in the second round, and then they bring in some guys like Galloway, Wood, maybe a Bryn Forbes type or Derrick Favors, this team isn't a postseason threat. They really should just tank next year as well.
Here's a 15-man depth chart example:
C-James Wiseman, Christian Wood, Alex Len
PF-Blake Griffin, Sekou Doumbouya, Johnathan Motley
SF-Bryn Forbes, Svi Mykhailiuk, Khyri Thomas
SG-Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Denzel Valentine
PG-Bruce Brown, Derrick Rose, Payton Pritchard
This won't happen entirely, or maybe not at all, but assuming it's something similar, this is no a playoff team without an outstanding year from Wiseman, complete health from Griffin and Rose, and major improvement at the wing.
In the past four seasons, Detroit finished 8th, 10th, 9th and 8th in the East, meaning that mediocrity has finally caught up to their roster. They need to hit big on draft selections, starting this year, and need to add smartly in free agency. Going the route the Lakers went is unrealistic for Detroit, but following the Raptors or Bucks or even Warriors' footsteps is how Detroit needs to approach the next five years.