• After replacing Stan Van Gundy with the reigning NBA Coach of the Year in Dwane Casey, the Pistons were hoping to take the next step. If squeaking into the playoffs at .500 and getting swept in the first round was the step that the franchise was hoping to take, then this Detroit squad was able to deliver. Our Post-Mortem series continues with a look at the team who captured the NBA’s final playoff berth.

    Overview

    2018-19 Record: 41- 41

    The Detroit Pistons are one of the most successful franchises in the history of the NBA with 3 Larry O’Brien trophies on the mantle. Near the turn of the century, starting with the 2001-02 season, the Pistons appeared in six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, winning one NBA Championship while narrowly missing out on capturing a second. During this exceptional run, Detroit had three different men lead the charge as head coach, topping 50 wins each season. The Pistons core was made up of some hard-nosed, under-the-radar competitors who became household names like former NCAA Champion Richard (Rip) Hamilton, “Mr. Big Shot” Chauncey Billups, four-time Defensive Player of the Year Ben Wallace, Tayshaun Prince, and everybody’s favorite walking technical, Rasheed Wallace.

    A trip down memory lane is always nice, but it’s all Pistons fans have nowadays. Since that last hurrah in the 2007-08 season, fortune has not been kind to the fanbase. In the eleven seasons to follow, only once has the franchise had a winning record.

    Staving off the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets to cling to the eighth and final playoff berth, only to get steamrolled at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, was the most rush that the team has provided the fans in years.

    The 2018-19 season can best be classified as mediocre. The team parlayed the 7th highest budget in the league to the same number of wins as losses, and with next year’s payroll just $13 million less before the offseason starts, there’s not much more room to grow with the current setup.

    This past season showed the ceiling of the team, which is a low-rise studio apartment on the first floor.

    Coaching

    Maybe the best move the Pistons made this year was when they signed Dwane Casey to be the team’s new head coach after he was surprisingly fired by the Raptors the same season where he won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. As often happens in sports, Casey could only bring the Raptors as far as the team’s talent would take them and he was, in turn, cast as the scapegoat for their previous playoff failures. With the Raptors making their first NBA Finals ever this season, the move worked out for both teams.

    Detroit was able to return to the playoffs this season in part because their defense was above average. They finished in the top ten in opponent points per game and 3-point percentage against and they were twelfth in opponents’ turnovers per game. With the team finishing near the bottom of the league in almost every offensive category, the Pistons’ tenacity on the defensive end was able to be the difference in making the playoffs and another 30-win season.

    Star player Blake Griffin took a liking to the team’s construction, showing off his improved range from deep all while facilitating the Pistons offense. In a similar setup as when Griffin played next to DeAndre Jordan, he enjoyed having Andre Drummond and his league-leading rebounding and paint presence next to him. Speaking of Drummond, he again was able to take another slight step forward in what he does best. Most importantly for Pistons fans, Luke Kennard showed well under Casey in his sophomore season, giving hope that he can be a competent player in this league.

    Casey will be back again in his second season with the team and will be hoping for more improvement. It’s hard to gauge whether that will come as, despite a playoff berth, this is one of the more barren teams in the league with minimal cap space and a draft pick outside of the lottery.

    The Players

    Andre Drummond

    ADP: 15/24 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 14/15 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 21/17 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 79

    2018-19 averages: 79 G | 33.5 MP | 17.3 PTS | 0.1 3PM | 15.6 REB | 1.4 AST | 1.7 STL | 1.7 BLK | 2.2 TOV | .533 FG% | .590 FT%

    Drummond does what he does and continues to improve each year. Along with again leading the league in total rebounding, Drummond set career-highs in offensive rebounding, scoring and steals per game. With Blake Griffin showing off his continued 3-point stroke and always-evident playmaking abilities, Drummond got more room to operate in his comfort zone.

    After multiple seasons of the worst free throw shooting in history, Drummond was able to keep his free throw shooting close to .600 for a second straight year. While no one will ever consider that adequate, it is still far better than his previous levels.

    Drummond can protect the rim and rebound the basketball, but he is a poor real-life defender. Luckily for fantasy owners, only steals and blocks are counted on the defensive end, and Drummond was one of only three players who finished in the top-25 in both steals and blocks on a per game average, landing in the eight spot in each.

    Perhaps one of the most intriguing season-long developments for Drummond was a 3-point shot. He made 5 of 38 shots from three, which both at least doubled his career numbers up to this point. While that won’t move the needle in the slightest, any extra range Drummond can add this summer is a bonus.

    There aren’t many players in the league who can give you the kind of numbers that Drummond puts up in his money categories, and it’s going to cost an early pick again next season to acquire his services.

    Blake Griffin

    ADP: 41/42 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 33/53 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 38/65 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 75

    2018-19 averages: 75 G | 35.0 MP | 24.5 PTS | 2.5 3PM | 7.5 REB | 5.4 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.4 BLK | 3.4 TOV | .462 FG% | .753 FT%

    Griffin was once again an All-Star selection in his first full season as a Piston while playing in 75 games, his most since the 2013-2014 season.

    Griffin is adapting well to the league-wide emphasis of floor-stretching big men. His continually improved 3-point stroke blasted his career-high mark set last season. Griffin’s last full season as a Clipper ended with him attempting just 1.9 threes per game, then jumping to 1.9 threes made per game the following year between LAC and DET and finally culminated in this season’s insane 2.5 per game on 7.0 attempts. These numbers were good for a top-15 finish in threes made, and the most among any big man in basketball.

    It’s no coincidence that Griffin had the highest scoring average of his career in Detroit. With the monstrous Andre Drummond occupying real estate inside the paint, Griffin will continue to launch the 3-ball come next season.

    Though Griffin was able to mostly muscle his way through it, the injury bug came calling Blake’s name again this season. After the break, Griffin averaged 20.1 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as the 144th-best player on a per-game basis and the 126th overall player in total value in 9-cat leagues. A far cry from the 44th and 35th rankings before the break.

    The big blow was a knee injury that cost Griffin four of the season’s final seven games as the team was fighting for a playoff spot, in addition to the first two games of the team’s first-round playoff series. The Pistons would go 2-4 in that stretch, including 0-2 in the two playoff games. Unable to play during the team’s most important stretch of the season was an ironic way to end an otherwise resurgent year that culminated in a Third-Team All-NBA selection.

    A healthy Griffin showed he belonged back in the star conversation in the league, while yet another offseason knee surgery underscores his extensive injury history. Griffin is going to cost an early mid-round pick on draft day and can very well be worth every penny if you don’t mind the glaring injury risk.

    Reggie Jackson

    ADP: 96/132 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 87/107 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 132/144 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 82

    2018-19 averages: 82 G | 27.9 MP | 15.4 PTS | 2.1 3PM | 2.6 REB | 4.2 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.1 BLK | 1.8 TOV | .421 FG% | .864 FT%

    After playing in just under 60 games the past two seasons, Jackson was one of only seven players to start all 82 games this season. When Jackson was on the court the past two years, he wasn’t the same player he was in his first season-and-a-half in Detroit. This year followed a similar pattern, as besides the health, there wasn’t much growth to Jackson’s game outside of a career year from deep.

    Jackson isn’t the sexiest of names out there on draft day, but he’ll provide steady value, and still has some theoretical upside. There’s no reason to reach for Jackson as three sub-par years in a row is making his initial arrival in Detroit look like an outlier. He’s most likely going to be one of the last starting point guards off the board after Ish Smith pushed him for minutes all year, but that makes him just boring enough to outplay his ADP if he can stay healthy again.

    Put it this way — Jackson is a guy you’ll target with zero excitement if you’re starved for point guard stats as the draft wears on, and one you’ll probably throw into a bunch of trade offers throughout the season, but he is a solid if unspectacular option as a borderline starter on your roster.

    All things considered, Jackson is entering the final year of his contract, and since the team doesn’t have much wiggle room finance-wise, he has a very good chance at returning as the starting PG for a fringe playoff team in the East, and just as good of a chance to be dealt at the deadline.

    Luke Kennard

    ADP: 139/144 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 225/215 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 234/230 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 63

    2018-19 averages: 63 G | 22.8 MP | 9.7 PTS | 1.7 3PM | 2.9 REB | 1.8 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.9 TOV | .438 FG% | .836 FT%

    For anyone in the state of Michigan or anyone who is a Pistons fan around the globe, Kennard will always be linked to Donovan Mitchell after the Pistons front office decided to select him one spot ahead of Mitchell in the 2017 NBA Draft. Kennard is entering a make or break year in season number three, as the Pistons can get out of his contract in the summer of 2020 if they wish to.

    The season didn’t start well for the soon to be 23-year-old who separated his right shoulder in late October and worked his way back up with some time in the G-League. What followed when he returned was a more confident player.

    Kennard was more aggressive and showed that he could be a knockdown shooter in the league. After the break, Kennard’s numbers jumped up across the board with a roughly five-minute increase in floor time per game.

    With Wayne Ellington entering free agency, and the Pistons not having much cap space to add definitive upgrades, Kennard could find himself in a starting role as the second or third option on offense next season. That sort of upside from the 12th overall pick just a few short drafts ago makes Kennard an intriguing late-round target in fantasy circles.

     Wayne Ellington

    ADP: NA/147 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 219/201 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 185/158 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 53

    2018-19 averages: 53 G | 24.5 MP | 10.3 PTS | 2.6 3PM | 2.0 REB | 1.4 AST | 1.0 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .403 FG% | .796 FT%

    Ellington was signed near the trade deadline and proved to be a fantastic addition to the team. He put up a career-high in points, steals, and made 2.9 3-pointers a game as a near full-time starter for the first time in his career. He was a great find for a Detroit team that badly needed spacing, and his renaissance was big in fantasy because he had spent a chunk of his season out of the rotation in Miami.

    Ellington, a 10-year NBA vet who has played on eight teams, is entering unrestricted free agency this summer and will probably end up elsewhere next season. He proved that given the right scenario, he could be a quality contributor off your fantasy bench.

    It’s reasonable to expect contending teams to come calling with the veteran’s minimum, followed by a role off the bench and production like his pre-Detroit days. While that’s an asset to have in real life, if he falls back into that role, there isn’t much fantasy upside outside of the occasional spot starts.

    Bruce Brown

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 267/261 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 344/344 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 74

    2018-19 averages: 74 G | 19.6 MP | 4.3 PTS | 0.3 3PM | 2.5 REB | 1.2 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.5 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .397 FG% | .750 FT%

    Brown, who was drafted out of Miami in the second round of the 2018 draft, had an up and down rookie year. He proved to be a quality defender with room to improve, but his offensive game showed how raw he truly is. He only hit on 25.8 percent of his threes and shot under 40 percent overall from the field.

    Brown has a good chance at remaining in the starting lineup next season as the Pistons don’t have much depth or talent on the wings. While it’s hard to justify continually throwing out someone who isn’t a threat to score the ball, a +5.9 net rating after the break is more telling of his overall impact.

    Keep an eye on Brown in Summer League and the preseason to see if his offense is improving, as an improved shot will go a long way into figuring out the fantasy value Brown can bring to the table in 2020. If Brown can get up to thirty minutes or so a game and prove to be a capable shooter, he has the potential to be a rare commodity among guard eligible players with a steal and block per game.

    A lot needs to go right for Brown to hit his ceiling, but he is a worthwhile late-round gamble in deeper leagues with the upside he carries.

    Ish Smith

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 262/262 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 259/271 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 56

    2018-19 averages: 56 G | 22.3 MP | 8.9 PTS | 0.8 3PM | 2.6 REB | 3.6 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .418 FG% | .758 FT%

    Ish Smith had the look of a quality PG as a key member of the rotation and was pushing Reggie Jackson to the bench in crucial situations throughout the season. Unfortunately, he tore his right adductor in December and missed a little less than two months outside of a brief three-game return in between. The Pistons struggled mightily during this stretch with a 7-18 record, showing the critical role that Smith was playing on the team.

    Smith, who returned two weeks before the all-star break, saw his numbers rise after the return and had a positive +/- net rating, unlike Jackson.

    Smith, who turns 31 this summer, is a nine-year NBA veteran entering unrestricted free agency. Smith isn’t someone you should target, but rather someone to keep an eye on as he has shown the past four-plus seasons that he can be a productive player if given the opportunity. If he ends up back in a situation like Detroit, he will find himself with a sizeable role as the backup PG with the potential to start.

    The better the team/depth that signs him, the less chance Smith will have to make a fantasy impact worth rostering.

    Langston Galloway

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 220/190 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 303/265 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 80

    2018-19 averages: 80 G | 21.8 MP | 8.4 PTS | 1.7 3PM | 2.1 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.3 TOV | .388 FG% | .844 FT%

    At just 27 years old, Galloway is entering the prime of his career. He is a quality role player off the bench for NBA teams, but in the fantasy game, he isn’t a name that should be on your radar outside of the absolute deepest of leagues. Galloway will have some nice moments if injuries strike around him and he sees plenty of run, but outside of that his fantasy relevant stretches are usually few and far between.

    As boring as Galloway can be, he wound up finishing fourth on the Pistons in total value for 9-cat leagues on the strength of 80 games played. That’s not saying much considering the lack of depth on the team, but it does give us a decent baseline. Entering the final year of his current contract, he should return to Detroit with a chance to provide similar or better value if health permits.

    Thon Maker

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 280/267 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 327/307 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 64

    2018-19 averages: 64 G | 15.2 MP | 5.0 PTS | 0.8 3PM | 3.2 REB | 0.7 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.8 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .407 FG% | .667 FT%

    Thon Maker came over from the Bucks in a mid-season trade and didn’t do much in his time as a Piston. Playing behind the team’s two best players in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond didn’t give Maker the opportunity at the kind of run he needs to improve his play. He was, however, able to fill in for Griffin when the latter went down with a knee injury towards the end of the season and promptly did very little with the opportunity.

    Maker has raw talent and can be a difference-maker (potential team name?) for fantasy owners looking for blocks, but he is too inconsistent and nowhere near polished enough to receive the minutes to do so. Barring a trade to one of his frontcourtmates, Maker is looking at another limited backup role next year and can be avoided on draft day outside of the deepest of leagues.

    With all that said, Maker is just 22 years old and a former top-10 pick. Thon is a name to watch throughout the season in case circumstances change, as he has plenty of upside if he can harness his untapped potential.

    Zaza Pachulia

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 283/294 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 350/370 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 68

    2018-19 averages: 68 G | 12.9 MP | 3.9 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 3.9 REB | 1.3 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.9 TOV | .443 FG% | .782 FT%

    Pachulia is little more than a veteran presence at this point in his career. He was a bit role player off the bench for the Pistons, and it’s unlikely he finds anything better this offseason.

    Pachulia is a good teammate to have on a real-life basketball team as he has championship experience, a high motor, and is always at the center of things when situations get tense. Oddly enough, highlighting Zaza’s impact to franchises, the 16-year NBA vet has never been traded mid-season despite playing for six teams throughout his career.

    With that said, none of this helps the 35-year-old’s chances of making an impact in the fantasy world next season. Add in the fact that Pachulia missed time with right Achilles inflammation this season, and he can be ignored in drafts.

    Jose Calderon

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 362/374 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 424/437 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 48

    2018-19 averages: 48 G | 13.2 MP | 2.4 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 1.5 REB | 0.4 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.7 TOV | .375 FG% | .818 FT%

    Jose Calderon is a soon-to-be 38-year-old free agent this summer. It’s fair to wonder if his playing days are over, and if they are, we tip our cap to the man. New and younger fans might not know much of or think highly of Calderon, but during his heyday with the Raptors, he was one of the better fantasy PGs in the league. He also helped lead the Spanish National Team to two silver and one bronze medal in the Olympic games.

    While the past is kind to Calderon, the present has not been. He’s been on the decline for years, which considering his age, is normal. Calderon is way past the days of fantasy relevance as he’s little more than a veteran presence and third-string PG for teams at this stage of his career. Calderon should be nowhere near fantasy squads next season if he decides to play a 15th NBA season.

    Jon Leuer

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 376/377 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 417/420 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 41

    2018-19 averages: 41 G | 9.8 MP | 3.8 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 2.4 REB | 0.3 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .579 FG% | .742 FT%

    Jon Leuer’s seemingly been a developing project looking to reach his potential for years now. Then it hits you that he’s been in the league eight years and is 30 years old. When Leuer first came to Detroit for the 2016-17 season, he showed real promise, averaging 10.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in 25.9 minutes per game. He even started 34 games, and Stan Van Gundy took a liking to the big fella. Flash forward two seasons and just 49 games, and Leuer has faded back into obscurity.

    When Griffin missed games towards the end of the season, it was Thon Maker who got the starts, essentially meaning Leuer is a deep reserve. Leuer, who is set to be a $9.5 million expiring contract next season, is only fantasy relevant if he or the stars in front of him are traded or if one of them gets injured. He’s not someone who should be on anyone’s draft list unless the seas part and a role magically opens up.

    Khyri Thomas

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 442/436 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 481/466 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 26

    2018-19 averages: 26 G | 7.5 MP | 2.3 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 0.8 REB | 0.3 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.2 TOV | .319 FG% | .636 FT%

    On a team that lacks top young talent, Thomas stands out as a potential bright spot for the team. At Creighton, Thomas was one of the best perimeter defenders in college basketball, and his defense translated well in his brief stay with the Grand Rapids Drive this season. He showed that he could play multiple positions, switch on defense, and guard people of varying sizes.

    His offensive game also looked much better this past season as he shot 43.8 percent from deep on 6.8 attempts per game and 50 percent from the floor overall in the G-League. Unfortunately, Thomas rarely saw the floor with the Pistons, even as their wings struggled. Though it’s hardly old, it’s worth noting that Thomas is on the older side of the now-sophomore scale, having just turned 23.

    Thomas is a guy who will most likely go undrafted even in the deepest leagues, but he is someone to keep an eye on throughout the summer and early portion of the season. As we know by now, the Pistons aren’t a deep team, and that’s especially true on the wings. Thomas could carve himself out a role with a productive offseason. If he can show coach Casey he can be a quality 3-and-D player; he can contribute on fantasy benches in deeper leagues.

    Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 406/410 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 468/467 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 42

    2018-19 averages: 42 G | 10.5 MP | 3.2 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 0.8 REB | 0.9 AST | 0.93STL | 0.0 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .331 FG% | .600 FT%

    Mykhailiuk had some decent hype from Lakers fans for his ability to shoot the trey ball following the draft. While he didn’t get many opportunities to show off his stroke at the NBA or G-League levels, it is still something that he can provide next season. After a deadline deal saw Mykhailiuk get traded to Detroit, he found himself again buried on the depth chart.

    At 6’8” Svi is bigger than your average two-guard, and a lot bigger than your average PG, which is what Dwane Casey envisions he can be. With the uninspiring Reggie Jackson and his expiring contract entering the offseason as the only other PG on the roster, Svi could find himself in a rotational role right from the jump. The Pistons are sure to add depth to the position this offseason, but it’s a good start for a player who didn’t see much time on the floor in his rookie year.

    Mykhailiuk is not a name that will be drafted in many leagues, if any, next fall. Though, he is another interesting name to watch, in what seems like a theme with the Pistons this offseason, as there is ample opportunity for someone to step up. Svi will be an intriguing flier if he adapts well to the PG position this summer or if something happens to Jackson. He underwent surgery to repair an issue with his left index finger but should be good to go for training camp.

    Glenn Robinson III

    ADP: NA/NA (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 372/367 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 431/427 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 47

    2018-19 averages: 47 G | 13.0 MP | 4.2 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 1.5 REB | 0.4 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.4 TOV | .423 FG% | .800 FT%

    After a preseason ankle injury derailed his last season in Indiana in 2017, Robinson joined the Pistons looking for a fresh start to his career. After four straight losses early in the season, Robinson was inserted into the starting lineup. He had a few productive games, but he was very inconsistent and found himself back in a reserve role a month later.

    While only 25 years old, Robinson still has theoretical upside to tap into, but he just hasn’t shown enough yet in his five-year career to believe that he’d be anything more than a role player. The Pistons will decide what they want to do with Robinson this summer as he has a $4.3 million team option for next season. If he finds himself back in Detroit, there is potential for him to carve out a role, as just like the rest of the wing rotation, there isn’t much that stands out.

    Robinson can be ignored on draft day, but if he can somehow win a starting gig again he’ll be a name to monitor in the early parts of the season to see if he can develop into something with the playing time.

    Doctor’s Orders

    There’s a notion of, “what have you done for me lately,” that’s been sweeping through the sports media and front office worlds which has changed the way athletes are viewed. While judging the elite athletes off a small sample size or a down year always seems to bite this demographic down the line, that’s an argument for another day.

    I open with that sentiment because this collection of players and head coach have been together for all of one season, a season that saw the team make the playoffs and improve from the year before. As much as I normally disagree with it, in this case, one season is enough to see that the Piston’s need to change their personnel if they want to take the next step.

    The Pistons enter the offseason very top-heavy in their financial books with Blake Griffin among the ten highest-paid players and Andre Drummond not too far behind among the top-30, culminating in the 9th highest team salary next season at $113,235,402. That number doesn’t include Glenn Robinson III’s $4,278,750 team option.

    The silver lining here is that the team is off the hook of most of their contracts after this season, with Griffin and Khyri Thomas the only two players under contract. If you add in player/team options and qualifying offers, the Pistons have a total of seven potential players under contract for 2021.

    The team enters the offseason with the ability to either hit the reset button and attempt to trade one of their two all-star players for picks and cap relief or continue to stand pat and try to move up the Eastern Conference standings. If the franchise stands pat, it’ll surely be more mediocrity next season, as even if they had the cap space, small-market Detroit isn’t an ideal free agent destination.

    As for the fantasy game, the Pistons are as top-heavy as it gets with just three players finishing in the top-180 in 9-cat leagues. There is a small light at the end of the tunnel in terms of emerging fantasy gems though, as the Pistons have a few young assets with potential. Whether it’s Kennard or Brown making the leap to the next level and shoring up the wing spots, or Thomas and Svi showing enough growth to join the rotation, or the extremely raw Maker finding consistency, the future won’t look so bleak if one or a few of these guys can become competent role players or starters next season.

    Then again, unproven young talent without much hype in a city that doesn’t attract big name free agents isn’t a recipe for future success. Next season will be a crucial year for Detroit, and we can only hope that they make the right moves to bring a brighter future.

Fantasy News

  • Tyler Dorsey
    SG, International

    Tyler Dorsey has signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv B.C. of Israel.

    Dorsey played 21 games for the Grizzlies last year after being acquired midseason from the Hawks via trade. He played well over that span with 9.8 points in 21.3 minutes but will take his talents overseas where, "He'll have a chance to showcase what great things he can do," according to his new head coach. Maccabi has signed several former NBA players this offseason as Dorsey will be joining Omri Casspi, Nate Wolters, Quincy Acy and Tarik Black.

    Source: Macabi Tel Aviv on Twitter

  • Rayjon Tucker
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    Rayjon Tucker will be signing with the Bucks on a partially guaranteed deal.

    Tucker is a little older than most rookies and will be 22 before the start of the season but he played well enough at Little Rock last year to deserve a look, scoring 20.3 points per game and knocking down 2.4 triples per game at a 41.1 percent clip. He rounds out the Bucks 20-man training camp roster but since they already have 15 guaranteed contracts and both two-way spots occupied, he is very unlikely to make the team and could very well end up in the G-League.

    Source: Darren Wolfson on Twitter

  • De'Aaron Fox
    PG, Sacramento Kings

    Per Chris Hayes of Yahoo, De'Aaron Fox will be withdrawing from the FIBA World Cup in order to focus on the upcoming season.

    Fox follows the trend set by many other players that have withdrawn for the same reason. Maybe this is related to him only playing six minutes in the exhibition against Spain on Friday but either way, he should be in line to improve last year's huge leap in production and could even be in the All-Star conversation. Derrick White is much more likely to make the final roster now with Fox out.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker leads US in 90-81 victory over Spain on Friday.

    Walker impressed in the exhibition with 11 points, six rebounds, eight assists, and two steals in 22 minutes with Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Khris Middleton also playing well as his co-stars. Four Celtics are expected to be on the final roster which will serve as a great opportunity for Walker to develop a good rapport with his new teammates ahead of training camp. Marc Gasol was the top scorer for Spain with 19 points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks while Ricky Rubio finished with 16 points, seven assists and five steals.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Khem Birch
    C, Orlando Magic

    Khem Birch led all scorers with 18 points as Canada lost to Australia in the second game of their mini-series exhibition.

    Birch also chipped in four rebounds, two steals and a block in 23 minutes. He recently signed a two-year extension with the Magic but he currently sits as their third string center so he is off the fantasy map for now. For Australia, captain Joe Ingles put up eight points on 2-of-10 shooting with six assists and three steals in 31 minutes while Jonah Bolden chipped in 12 points, five rebounds, a steal and two triples in 18 minutes off the bench.

    Source: FIBA

  • Juancho Hernangomez
    PF, Denver Nuggets

    Juan Hernangomez was back in action on Friday after undergoing core surgery in May.

    Hernangomez did not do much in his 20 minutes of action in Spain's exhibition against the US on Friday but at least he has recovered from his surgery. He is entering a contract year but it will be difficult for him to get much playing time with the Nuggets at full health. He played only 8.4 minutes per game over the last two months of last season.

    Source: Nick Kosmider on Twitter

  • Jayson Tatum
    SF, Boston Celtics

    Jayson Tatum's intent is to increase his scoring this season according to Keith Smith.

    Tatum has been working on being stronger with the ball, drawing fouls and finishing through contact which should result in an increase in free throws, points and efficiency. He was already a top-60 player in only his second year in the league by providing a little bit of everything from a fantasy perspective and should only continue to grow going into his third season.

    Source: Keith Smith on Twitter

  • Daulton Hommes
    SF, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs have signed rookie Daulton Hommes.

    This is likely a camp deal for Hommes as the Spurs already have 15 guaranteed contracts on their roster. The NABC Division II Player of the Year averaged 8.4 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.4 triples and 1.0 threes in in 17.7 minutes for the Bucks in summer league action. He is unlikely to play in the NBA this season.

    Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    In the NBATV broadcast on Friday night, Marcus Smart said he is "100% confident" that his health won't be an issue to start the World Cup.

    With the news of PJ Tucker having to drop out due to an ankle injury, it's good to see Smart won't have to do the same. His presence will be a key factor on defense for Team USA.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills scored 20 points along with three rebounds, four assists and four treys in 24 minutes in Australia's 70-90 loss to Canada in Friday's World Cup exhibition game.

    Mills lead Australia in scoring in their first World Cup exhibition game. With Dejounte Murray returning this coming season from injury and Derrick White's rise, Mills is only a deep-league player at best in 2019-20. Fellow countryman Joe Ingles scored 11 points, six rebounds, two assists and a steal.

    Source: FIBA