• 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

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported that Dwight Howard remains in his Atlanta-area home and the Lakers hope he will eventually join them in Orlando.

    The Lakers do not plan to replace Howard on the roster. They are being patient with Howard, but if he decides to not play in Orlando the Lakers will likely look to sign another center.

    Source: Dave McMenamin on Twitter

  • Luc Mbah a Moute
    SF, Houston Rockets

    Shams Charania reported that the Houston Rockets plan to sign Luc Mbah a Moute for the Orlando restart.

    Thabo Sefolosha announced on Wednesday that he will not participate in the Orlando restart, leaving the Rockets with a need for an additional three-and-D wing. Mbah a Moute played 61 games for the Rockets in 2017-18 and averaged 25.6 minutes per game, so he is familiar with their system. Mbah a Moute will be a low-usage player that the Rockets can plug in at the end of their rotation and will provide them more depth, which could be imperative for teams given the COVID-19 concerns surrounding this Orlando restart.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Dwight Powell
    PF, Dallas Mavericks

    Dwight Powell has advanced in his rehab from a torn Achilles as he has been able to do some light shooting, agility work, and has been able to do some jogging on the treadmill.

    Powell suffered a torn Achilles in January and has no chance of participating in Orlando's restart. However, it is always good news to hear a player reach a milestone in terms of their rehab. Powell may not play an NBA game until the 2021-22 season as he continues to recover from one of the toughest injuries in basketball. This is a situation that will continue to evolve over the next year or so.

    Source: Callie Caplan on Twitter

  • Jaren Jackson Jr.
    PF, Memphis Grizzlies

    Head coach Taylor Jenkins told the media that they are "looking good, feeling good" in regards to the health of Jaren Jackson Jr. (left knee), Brandon Clarke (right quad) and Justise Winslow (back soreness).

    Jackson and Clarke missed nine and eight games respectively prior to the shutdown while Winslow has yet to play a game for the Grizzlies due to an ongoing back injury. This appears to be great news for the young team as they will be at full strength when the league does resume. Clarke and Jackson definitely have fantasy appeal as they both finished inside the top-80 on the season. Winslow has potential but he is the riskiest of the three based on a brand new situation and the back injury that has caused him to miss 53 games so far this season. It is probably best to avoid Winslow for the league resumption and re-evaluate his fantasy value prior to the 2020-21 campaign.

    Source: Michael Wallace on Twitter

  • Thomas Bryant
    C, Washington Wizards

    Wizards center Thomas Bryant told the media that he is "100 percent healed" from a stress fracture in his foot and is doing everything on the basketball court ahead of the NBA resumption in Orlando.

    Bryant struggled to stay healthy prior to the league suspension as he played in 38 out of 64 games while the team also had him on a strict minutes limit for several of the contests that he was able to play. He is an intriguing fantasy option for the NBA restart but his recent injury history should be considered at draft time.

    Source: Fred Katz on Twitter

  • Caleb Swanigan
    PF, Portland Trail Blazers

    Blazers forward, Caleb Swanigan, has opted out of the resumption of the NBA season in Orlando.

    Swanigan averaged 13.3 mpg for the Blazers across 20 contests and is off the radar from a fantasy perspective. He will join Trevor Ariza who will also be sitting out the NBA restart. There was very little likelihood that Swanigan would have been part of the rotation in Orlando with Jusuf Nurkić and Zach Collins returning from injury.

    Source: NBC Sports Northwest

  • Thabo Sefolosha
    SF, Houston Rockets

    Thabo Sefolosha will not participate in Orlando when the league resumes.

    Sefolosha was a deep rotation piece for the Rockets as he only eclipsed the 20 minute mark once this season. There isn't much of a fantasy impact here as Sefolosha played in just two of the team's final nine games.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Jusuf Nurkic
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    In regards to the health of Jusuf Nurkić and Zach Collins, head coach Terry Stotts said that "they both look great" and will be available for the restart of the NBA season in Orlando.

    Nurkić was close to returning when the league was suspended while Collins was further away from playing basketball in March. However, the additional three months allowed Collins to recover as he has no limitations heading into the restart in Orlando. It is likely that they will find themselves in the starting unit while Nurkić is the more proven player in terms of fantasy production.

    Source: Sean Highkin on Twitter

  • Marvin Bagley III
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings training staff believes that Marvin Bagley (left foot sprain) will be available for game action shortly.

    Bagley hasn't appeared in a game since January. While Bagley would likely have a bench role, his return may cut into the playing time of teammates like Harrison Barnes and Harry Giles.

    Source: Jason Jones on Twitter

  • Nikola Jokic
    C, Denver Nuggets

    Nuggets coach Mike Malone said that Nikola Jokic "feels great" after suffering from the coronavirus and is expected to join the team in Orlando.

    It was reported in late June that Jokic tested positive for COVID-19. However, he was said to be feeling fine and could potentially play in games when they resume. The center has averaged 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, and 1.2 steals in 2019-20. Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee would see more playing time if Jokic is held out of action.

    Source: Mark Medina on Twitter