May 26, 2018, 1:25 pm
With big dollars committed and limited pathways to roster upheaval, the Pistons did a little tinkering heading into the season, hoping that a few stylistic tweaks and some internal improvement could get them back into the postseason. When some injuries put the season on life support, Detroit swung for the fences in a trade that rocked the NBA. Armed with an undeniable star, the Pistons ultimately fell short of their goal and are now looking for new voices atop the organization with a cap sheet that’s carved even deeper into stone. Let’s take a look under the hood at an eventful season in the Motor City.
The Pistons season, and future, will be defined by one glorious, out-of-nowhere transaction.
To Detroit: Blake Griffin, Willie Reed, Brice Johnson
To LA: Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, first-round pick, 2019 second-round pick
The story of Detroit’s season extends long before that deal, but that’s what people will remember.
It actually began with another trade, as they sent Marcus Morris to Boston in exchange for Bradley. He was supposed to be the team’s long-term answer at shooting guard and supplant Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who was allowed to walk in free agency. The Pistons also added Anthony Tolliver, Langston Galloway and Eric Moreland in free agency to bolster the bench. Stan Van Gundy was starting to feel the heat and wanted to give his team a little more juice from behind the arc to help keep the Pistons in the new age. At least to the extent that’s possible when your franchise player is the most traditional of traditional centers.
That, coupled with the need for immediate production, led to the selection of Duke’s Luke Kennard at No. 12 in the draft.
Things actually got off to a great start, with a healthy Reggie Jackson, an ascending version of Tobias Harris and an improved version of Andre Drummond helping guide the Pistons to a 14-6 start to the year. Despite Bradley’s early struggles, the Pistons were sitting pretty in the playoff picture and looked like they’d be scrapping for a middle seed. Of course, the followed that all up with seven straight losses. Things got back on track shortly after but the season took a turn for the worse on December 26 when Reggie Jackson suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain that would keep him out of 37 games.
Ish Smith, who performed admirably in 2016-17, couldn’t find his groove in the starting five and the Pistons sank like a stone in the standings, getting to 22-18 before watching their season slip away on an eight-game losing streak that carried into late January.
Then, it happened. The Pistons and Clippers agreed to the trade above, and it was a serious stunner. LA had put the full court press on Griffin to sign him to a massive deal mere months prior while the Pistons were reaping the rewards of Harris’ development. The two teams swapped their power forwards in a deal where the Clippers improved their financial flexibility and nabbed a young player and a pick while the Pistons got the superstar they so desperately craved.
It was viewed as a Hail Mary by Van Gundy, but the move wasn’t his call alone. The rest of the organization seemed on board as Griffin’s presence gave Detroit some relevance around the league and would put butts in the seats of the brand-new Little Caesar’s Arena if nothing else.
Things were looking good as the Pistons won the five games following the deal, though that was some smoke and mirrors thanks to a favorable schedule. They promptly dropped 10 of their next 12 to end their postseason hopes. They also added James Ennis and Jameer Nelson before the deadline buzzer but those moves didn’t do much to move the needle. It was always a stretch to integrate a high-usage guy like Griffin in the middle of the year, especially with Jackson still out on the sidelines. In the end, Detroit’s new core three of Griffin, Drummond and Jackson only shared the floor for four games as Griffin went down with an ankle injury shortly after Jackson’s return.
In that sense, this was a win-now year that quickly became a transitional one for the Pistons. They got a wonderful year out of Drummond and Jackson was playing some solid ball before getting hurt. Reggie Bullock became a knockdown shooter and cemented himself as a quality starter. Anthony Tolliver was a great, inexpensive find and Kennard had his moments.
In the end though, it wasn’t enough. Bradley was a bust before he was traded. Offseason talk about Boban Marjanovic’s improvement amounted to nothing but more garbage time duty. Jon Leuer, the team’s occasional stretch four and starter, was limited to eight games with a nasty ankle injury. Galloway was invisible and Ish Smith crumbled in a clunky starting lineup. Stanley Johnson was inconsistent as ever and Jackson wasn’t the same once he returned. The Pistons now have a massive financial commitment to Griffin and don’t have a ton to spend to improve the roster substantially. They shipped out a cost-effective, younger alternative in Harris to lock their cap sheet in.
The Pistons came up short one year too many and Van Gundy was shown the door in the offseason. It’s a bit surprising that SVG didn’t even get a training camp with his big acquisition, but Detroit grew tired of his dual coach-president role and will fill those spots with two people this time around.
TL;DR – It was a busy year.
While the Pistons will head into next year with a new voice, Van Gundy deserves credit for making a few changes to the team’s systems that helped get the most out of Andre Drummond. Allowing him to handle the ball on the elbows and at the top of the key was great for him personally, and the Pistons can feel a whole lot better about their investment in him after seeing the huge improvements he made this season.
The additions of Tolliver and Kennard and the growth of Bullock helped vault Detroit up to fifth in the league in 3-point percentage, an area where they were 28th a year ago. They were still middling in terms of 3-point attempts but it was a big step nonetheless. Some of that is definitely because of personnel but Van Gundy gets a little credit there as well since he was the president, after all. It’s also worth noting that 88.9 percent of Detroit’s triples were assisted (fourth in the NBA) while just 46.5 of their 2-pointers came off a dime (27th). Sharing is caring, and their assists will come up again a little later.
The Pistons improved from 25th to 19th in offensive rating (103.3 to 104.9) and saw their defensive rating jump from 105.3 to 104.8, though they didn’t actually move from the 11th spot. It resulted in a rounded 0.0 net rating overall though, so despite the positive steps Detroit simply jumped from poor to middling.
They were just 21st in pace, and while that resulted in a low turnover rate it’s easy to see how a team with spacing issues and a real isolation threat could get bogged down in the half court. It’s not like the Pistons could outrun those issues either, as there’s only so much they can do with Drummond on the floor despite his improved conditioning.
The Pistons ranked 19th in assist percentage, though that still represents a big jump from their 2016-17 ranking of 28th. They did a great job at finding their shooters from behind the arc but were among the worst in the league from 2-point range. The Jackson injury certainly didn’t help in this regard.
Look for their next coach to focus a lot on improving the team’s shot spectrum further. Detroit hasn’t been above average in true shooting percentage in 15 years. Some of the players on the roster will make that a little bit tougher than usual to accomplish, but it’s far from impossible. Ideally the next coach can also wring out a solid defense from a group with mostly average defenders as Van Gundy did, too. Full marks there.
It wasn’t all bad for SVG in Detroit, but it never got good enough.
ADP: 52/54 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 14/15 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 20/22 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 78
2017-18 averages: 78 G | 78 GS | 33.7 MP | 15.0 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 16.0 REB | 3.0 AST | 1.5 STL | 1.6 BLK | 2.6 TOV | .529 FG% | .605 FT% |
Drummond underwent offseason surgery to repair a deviated septum, and he turned in a career season armed with the ability to breathe through both nostrils. His improvement goes beyond that but the procedure, plus his offseason work, undoubtedly led to improved conditioning and a career-high in playing time.
The big man also set career-best marks in rebounding (where he led the league), assists and free throw percentage. The latter two categories had him shattering previous bests, and while the free throw percentage was still punt-worthy it was definitely a workable situation – in the past Drummond wouldn’t sniff second-round value until you adjusted for punting free throws. He also saw a nice rebound in blocks after two seasons below 1.5 per game. Overall, Drummond appeared more engaged and focused on defense. From top to bottom it was a great season that earned a well-deserved All-Star nod.
The Pistons let Drummond operate a little further away from the basket and he showed some sneaky playmaking ability as an occasional initiator from the elbows or edges of the paint. It’s a great little wrinkle to help round out his game but it’s not dissimilar from the way that Blake Griffin likes to play, so we’ll see how those two jell over time. He collected 277 assists in his first five seasons combined before busting out with 237 this year. That extra responsibility, which he handled very well, led to an obvious increase in turnovers. If he can cut those down next year he’ll be even more of an asset for 9-cat players, so hopefully a year in this role will pay dividends going forward.
Ultimately, there was a ton to like about Drummond’s season. He checked all the boxes that a coach could ask for – improved conditioning, improved defense, improved playmaking and a substantial increase at the charity stripe. He snared double digit rebounds in an astounding 73 contests and was often closer to 20 than 10. The free throw numbers do seem a little fluky even if Drummond reworked his technique a bit, so it’d be generally unwise to expect him to be a 600-plus guy going forward. Still, he’s become a much better-rounded player and continued focus on the defensive end should prevent him from tumbling too far down the rankings. He’s already mentioned that leading the league in blocks is one of his next goals, and if he delivers there he’d be a top-20 lock.
He’s also proven to be quite durable, having missed just seven games over the last five seasons. Four came this year, with Drummond missing two games for a rib contusion and the final pair of the season with a sore Achilles.
Despite owning impressive tools for the duration of his career, Drummond finally ascended to the ranks of fantasy’s elite centers in year six. It’s no guarantee that this is his peak, either.
ADP: 31/34 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 78/113 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 48/60 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 58
2017-18 averages: 58 G | 58 GS | 34.0 MP | 21.4 PTS | 1.9 3PM | 7.4 REB | 5.8 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.3 BLK | 2.8 TOV | .438 FG% | 877 FT% |
Well the Pistons swung for the fences and are going to have Blake as a featured player for better or worse. 20-5-5 guys don’t grow on trees and he still has the ability to bend an opponent to his will on offense, but Griffin’s got a few fatal flaws for fantasy purposes.
The first big one is injuries. Griffin hasn’t topped 67 games since 2013-14 and this year he spent time in street clothes because of a sprained left MCL (14 games), a concussion (two games) and a right ankle contusion (eight games to close the year). At this point it’d be unwise to pencil him in for 70 games, which is something that really wasn’t reflected in his ADP.
Second is his changing shot profile. Over his first seven seasons, Griffin took 268 threes and hit them at a 29.9 percent clip. This past year Griffin launched 322 of them, connecting at a respectable 34.5 percent. That’s a pretty great introduction to high-volume threes, but the problem is that even league-average output will drag down his overall field goal percentage substantially. It’s a field where Griffin has been in steady decline since his sophomore campaign though this season’s career-low of .438 was a stark drop from his previous career-worst of .493 in 2016-17. Even beyond the threes, Griffin shot just .482 on 2-pointers this year – the first time in his career he sagged below 50 percent. He was .473 on those looks as a member of the Pistons.
In total, Griffin set new career-highs in assists and 3-pointers but also established new career-lows in rebounds, steals, blocks and field goal percentage.
Griffin had some understandable struggles immediately following the trade but did steady himself to wrap up the season. He got lots of love in the preseason with people salivating over the idea of Blake running the Clippers with Chris Paul out of town, but he was always destined to let down considering those expectations. Coming into the season Griffin’s only real potential area of improvement was assists, as his scoring output would easily be counteracted by a drop in efficiency. Even worse, he saw his already-limited defensive contributions dwindle even further.
There’s no doubt that Griffin can be a major asset in points, rebounds and assists. Even his burgeoning 3-point game can be helpful. But coupled with his quiet output on defense and continually diminishing efficiency, it’s tough to argue that Griffin warrants attention in the first four rounds of a fantasy draft. The market has always seemed more bullish on Blake than his stats suggest.
ADP: 99/122 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 239/264 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 150/197 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 45
2017-18 averages: 45 G | 45 GS | 26.7 MP | 14.6 PTS | 1.2 3PM | 2.8 REB | 5.3 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.1 BLK | 2.2 TOV | .426 FG% | .836 FT% |
Another year, another batch of injuries for Jackson. Technically it was just one this time, as a Grade 3 ankle sprain knocked him out of a whopping 37 games. That’s now 52 and 45 games in each of the past two seasons for Jackson, though he was off to a pretty good start before hitting the sidelines. He had averages of 14.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 0.6 steals and 1.3 triples on .446 from the field before going down. The efficiency there is the big one, as that would’ve been his best mark since 2012-13 had it lasted all year.
While Ish Smith helped the Pistons get off to a good start before Jackson mucked things up in ’16-17, the tables were firmly turned this time around as Detroit was 27-18 with Jackson playing and 12-25 while he was out.
That’s obviously a bit simplistic, and we don’t really know how Jackson and Blake Griffin will mesh in the long term (they played just four games together with Jackson on a minutes limit to boot), but there’s no doubt that Detroit was simply a much better team with their starting point guard healthy. A stunner, truly. Jackson seemed to attack in the mid-range a bit more this season and isn’t a great finisher even when he gets to the rim, so it doesn’t seem likely that his efficiency will ever climb out of the negatives.
Between that and the lack of steals, Jackson’s a tough sell outside the late rounds. He’s got excellent chemistry with Andre Drummond in the pick and roll but for now he looks like a scoring and assists guy with production that leaves you wanting in the usual complementary guard stats. How the new-look Pistons come together over the summer will be worth paying attention to but the holes in Jackson’s game stick him with a firm fantasy ceiling.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 174/152(8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 153/121 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 62
2017-18 averages: 62 G | 52 GS | 27.9 MP | 11.3 PTS | 2.0 3PM | 2.5 REB | 1.5 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .489 FG% | .796 FT% |
Bullock came out of obscurity to deliver a career season, cementing himself as an important member of the starting lineup. He really deserved more consideration for Most Improved Player this season and is on one of the league’s best value contracts.
Bullock set career-highs in every major fantasy category besides free throw percentage and finished second in the league among qualified players with a blistering .445 mark from deep. Once he was moved into the starting lineup permanently on December 12 (including one game off the bench when he returned from an injury), Bullock averaged 13.4 points, 2.4 triples, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.2 blocks and 0.9 turnovers in 31.2 minutes a night while shooting 49.9 percent. That put him as a comfortable top-80 option once he was promoted, and Bullock is essentially a lock to begin next season in the starting five. Those statistical increases all came as his playing time was nearly doubled from the year prior, but sometimes all guys need is a chance.
He missed the first five games of the year due to a drug suspension but battled minor injuries throughout the season. A sore thumb cost Bullock one game and a sore back cost him another while a sore knee (plus meaningless games) sidelined him for the final four contests of the year.
An excellent source of threes, it’s possible that Bullock suffers from a bit of regression following this explosion but he can hold his own on defense and the Pistons simply need someone to space the floor. He’s going to play a similar workload and is looking like someone who should be on your mind in the final rounds of standard league drafts, at least at the moment.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 188/184 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 213/209 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 69
2017-18 averages: 69 G | 50 GS | 27.4 MP | 8.7 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 3.7 REB | 1.6 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .375 FG% | .772 FT% |
The trade of Marcus Morris gifted Johnson the starting small forward job, but he again failed to take full advantage of the opportunity. Johnson was okay if unspectacular and had some ups and downs that validated whatever it was that you previously thought of his NBA potential. This was supposed to be a make or break season for the third-year man, but ultimately he was neither made nor broken. So it goes.
The percentages above stick out like a sore thumb, and Johnson got his season started with a 0-for-13 outing. Obviously it doesn’t get much worse than that but it’s not as though he rounded into form over time. He also shot a career-worst .286 from deep, though the Pistons needed him to take those open shots to keep the offense clicking. It clearly didn’t work and Detroit’s usual starting lineups suffered from terrible spacing. Especially post-Jackson.
He missed three games in November with a sore right hip flexor and then eight games in a nine-game stretch in December in January with more right hip problems. Back tightness cost him two more in March, and hip issues are always worth monitoring even if this doesn’t seem particularly serious.
Johnson is better with the ball in his hands when he can try to attack the rack but Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin figure to dominate the touches. He’s an alright defender with a penchant for steals but as long as he’s treated like a catch-and-shoot guy the offensive returns won’t be pretty. There were just enough flashes of a well-rounded game to keep Johnson’s believers onboard but fantasy players need to see serious improvements before considering him in standard formats again.
ADP: 140/142 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 122/129 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 180/176 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 82
2017-18 averages: 82 G | 35 GS | 24.9 MP | 10.9 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 2.7 REB | 4.4 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .486 FG% | .698 FT% |
Smith wasn’t terrible this past season, but he was exposed in extended run as a starter. The Reggie Jackson injury forced Ish into a big-time role and it took him slightly out of his comfort zone to the team’s detriment. As the backup, Smith can come in and use his elite quickness to push the pace for the duration of his time on the floor. It also helps that the Pistons can space things out a little better in the second unit and help ease the burden on a poor shooter like Smith.
The same couldn’t be said of his time in the starting five, where extended minutes forced him to rein in his effective yet frenetic playstyle while playing next to two other players who the defense can ignore from distance. Some of that’s on coaching, but Smith has some spots to improve his game for sure. His numbers were worse almost across the board as a starter (net rating and assist rate differences were particularly ugly among non-fantasy stats), and this season showed that unless he’s surrounded with shooters who can push the pace it’ll be a tough sell for Smith to handle big minutes.
Back to his shooting – Smith did shatter his previous career-high in field goal percentage and 3-point percentage this year, though not without coaxing from the coaching staff. He clicked just enough from deep to at least keep defenses honest and really upped his output late in the season – 47 of his 101 attempts came in the final 14 games. Though he forced some cursory closeouts, teams still knew that he wanted to drive and were more comfortable forcing a career .301 3-point shooter to rise and fire despite his relative success. The percentages look prime for regression but if this is Smith’s new normal it’d be a semi-big deal.
Still, he remains an excellent reserve, and the Pistons can view the point guard position as a relative strength assuming everyone stays healthy. If the minutes stayed in the mid-twenties he’d be a solid low-end source of assists with enough scoring, steals and threes to help guard-needy teams late in drafts.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 216/200 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 255/242 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 72
2017-18 averages: 72 G | 22 GS | 22.3 MP | 7.1 PTS | 0.7 3PM | 3.1 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.8 TOV | .474 FG% | .836 FT% |
Ennis (or Ennis III if you’re fancy) was dealt from Memphis to Detroit at the deadline in a move that worked out pretty well. While he’ll never wow anybody, Ennis is a solid bench option who can start in a low-maintenance role if need be. Although his game is mostly built on hitting open threes and making timely cuts to the cup, Ennis’ time in Detroit was sabotaged by a .304 mark from deep – the second-worst in his six pit stops in the league so far.
A sore right calf cost him seven games before the trade and Ennis missed a game here and there otherwise but there aren’t any real injuries to blame for his lackluster output.
Though he has the chops to stick in the league, Ennis is very close to having the journeyman label attached. His stints in the starting five (in both Memphis and Detroit) didn’t really affect his stats much and he seems likely to find a new team in free agency. There’s some low, low-end potential for steals and threes but that’s about it.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 162/138 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 214/183 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 79
2017-18 averages: 79 G | 14 GS | 22.2 MP | 8.9 PTS | 2.0 3PM | 3.1 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.3 BLK | 0.7 TOV | .464 FG% | .797 FT% |
Tolliver was looking spry at 32 years of age, grabbing the backup power forward job early on and never looking back in what was a career season. The big man won plenty of fans in Detroit and should be looking at a solid market in free agency after finishing seventh in the league in 3-point percentage (.436). He posted the second-best scoring average of his career while establishing new highs in field goal percentage and 3-point output. Tolliver killed it in the catch-and-shoot game this season.
The longball will be key to his value in both fantasy and reality, and Tolliver really delivered when given a chance this season. He scored 10 points or more in the final 10 games of the season and was dynamite in April with averages of 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 triples on .615 from the floor over the last six games of the year. That was good for top-30 value, while he was still a top-85 option if we look at his numbers from the beginning of March onward. Though he flew under the radar, Tolliver ended up being a valuable add late in the season.
He earned high marks for his energy and hustle and profiles as a coach’s favorite wherever he winds up. His landing spot will dictate his fantasy potential but it’s tough to see him finding a better spot than he did this past season, so we’re not too bullish on his prospects at the moment. It’s worth waiting to see exactly where he winds up and how he gets used if nothing else. He’s an extremely solid player – the kind whose skillset, attitude and intangibles would make sense on pretty much any roster in the league.
ADP: 140 / 137 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 214/210 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 257/256 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 73
2017-18 averages: 73 G | 9 GS | 20.0 MP | 7.6 PTS | 1.1 3PM | 2.4 REB | 1.7 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.2 BLK | 0.9 TOV | .443 FG% | .855 FT% |
Kennard suffered the unfortunate fate of not being Donovan Mitchell this season, as did most of the other rookies. Although fans and outsiders will rue the selection, it’s worth stating outright that Kennard came more or less as-advertised. He came in and was able to help right away, which fit in right with what SVG was hoping to get out of this season. Kennard could’ve used a little more consistent playing time, especially early on, but was still able to set the franchise record for 3-point accuracy as a rookie (41.5 percent) despite lacking chances to truly get in a rhythm. He also showed better on defense than initially expected though we’ll wait and see how long that perception sticks.
The Pistons aren’t exactly brimming with wing talent, and Kennard has a decent shot at being Detroit’s starting shooting guard on opening night (assuming Bullock plays the three) as things currently stand. There’s some hope for him to enter the late-round flier conversation but that’ll be dictated by minutes. If the new coach ends up being a fan of Kennard’s game it could lead to a nice sophomore campaign.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 264/257 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 316/306 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 67
2017-18 averages: 67 G | 3 GS | 12.0 MP | 2.1 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 4.1 REB | 1.2 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.8 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .541 FG% | .379 FT% |
Moreland was brought in in the offseason as a guy the Pistons wanted to look at and potentially sign to a two-way deal. He wound up impressing enough to swipe the backup center gig from Boban Marjanovic. Quite the feat for a guy with 11 career games across two seasons who spent 2016-17 out of the NBA. A shoulder injury and a broken foot cut those first two seasons incredibly short but Moreland didn’t have any health issues this year.
Moreland was a nice energy option off the bench for Detroit and he seems likely to reprise that role next year. He’s in tough to be anything more than a desperation stream when weekly players are looking for blocks and boards, though he did post a couple monster games in two starts to close the year. Moreland went for 11 points (5-of-6 shooting), seven rebounds, two steals and a block in 32 minutes against the Raptors before exploding with 16 points (8-of-12 shooting), 17 rebounds, four steals and four blocks in the season finale against the Bulls. He’s a name to remember if Drummond sustains an injury but that’s about it for now.
ADP: N/A / 143 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 441/442 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 369/393 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 8
2017-18 averages: 8 G | 0 GS | 17.0 MP | 5.4 PTS | 0.0 3PM | 4.0 REB | 0.6 AST | 0.1 STL | 0.4 BLK | 0.9 TOV | .417 FG% | .867 FT% |
Leuer had a bit of a breakout in his first year with Detroit, emerging as an occasional starter at power forward while slotting in as a small-ball center from time to time. His burgeoning ability to stretch the floor was a big help on a team that was in need of spacing but ankle injuries kept Leuer from making a mark this year. Even while he was on the court, he attempted just three triples in his eight games after taking 2.2 a game the year prior. That’s small potatoes compared to the injuries but it’s worth pointing out.
He sprained his left ankle on Halloween and could never make it back to the court, watching his timeline get pushed further and further back before eventually choosing to undergo season-ending surgery in January. Leuer’s first trip to a specialist resulted in a surgery recommendation but he tried to rehab his way through it to return to the court. Another scan revealed some bone fragments and other smaller issues with the ankle beyond just the sprain, though he should be cleared for activity soon if the initial timeline holds true. Let’s just hear that he’s 100 percent before considering him for fantasy purposes.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 292/276 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 347/312 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 58
2017-18 averages: 58 G | 2 GS | 14.9 MP | 6.2 PTS | 1.3 3PM | 1.6 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.3 TOV | .371 FG% | .805 FT% |
Galloway signed on to help shore up Detroit’s wing depth and was even mentioned as a potential backup point guard but ended up being just a fleeting member of the rotation. His spacing can help in a pinch but the Pistons didn’t seem dedicated to giving him real run, which is a bit curious since they handed him $21 million for three years. Things looked promising when Galloway logged 24:41 on opening night but he wouldn’t top that workload until game No. 79 on the season. Even in his two starts, he combined for 33 minutes and just 10 points. While Galloway is a long shot to be a factor in any fantasy leagues barring a depth chart shakeup, he is one of the league’s notorious sneakerheads which is pretty cool.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 398/398 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 450/457 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 38
2017-18 averages: 38 G | 0 GS | 8.7 MP | 4.0 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 2.1 REB | 0.5 AST | 0.1 STL | 0.0 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .363 FG% | .862 FT% |
Ellenson was hoping to carve out a consistent job in year two, but no dice. He actually began the year in the rotation but Stan Van Gundy wasn’t keen on the youngster’s defense and Anthony Tolliver ran with his shot at the backup power forward job. While the Marquette product has a solid offensive game and continues to work on his 3-point accuracy, there’s a very crowded group of power forwards on this roster. There were a couple nice games throughout the year but it’s hard to see how Ellenson gets the time required to deliver fantasy production.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 290/309 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 305/342 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 50
2017-18 averages: 50 G | 0 GS | 20.3 MP | 4.9 PTS | 0.8 3PM | 2.1 REB | 3.6 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.1 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .389 FG% | .800 FT% |
We hope that Nelson leased instead of bought this past year. The Nuggets waived him to make space for Richard Jefferson (seriously) and Nelson latched on with the Pelicans. He was then traded to the Bulls in the Niko Mirotic deal and then sent to Detroit a week later. The Pistons needed some guard help but the veteran suited up in only seven contests with Detroit as Ish Smith and Dwight Buycks held the fort down until Reggie Jackson returned. He actually had some nice games in New Orleans but wasn’t a factor after his first dozen games or so.
He missed a back-to-back set in December with an ankle problem but we wouldn’t expect injuries to be the thing keeping Nelson off the court these days. He’s a fine emergency player and a great guy to have around some younger players but we’re not expecting him to be relevant in any fantasy leagues despite some per-minute assists appeal.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 357/372 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 314/354 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 29
2017-18 averages: 29 G | 0 GS | 14.7 MP | 7.4 PTS | 0.5 3PM | 1.4 REB | 2.0 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.1 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .414 FG% | .878 FT% |
Buycks fell by the wayside once Reggie Jackson got healthy but deserves some recognition for playing his way into a 20-plus minute role for a handful of games at a time. He hit the injury report with an illness and a sprained left ankle but the ankle only cost him two games. Buycks bounced up and down from the G-League a couple times and wasn’t always in the rotation but put some good work on tape. He dropped a career-high 22 points on the Nuggets in March and was mostly effective (if inefficient) given the circumstances. Some team should find a spot for Buycks as a depth guard, but fantasy owners don’t need to monitor anything here.
It’s going to be all about taking some seemingly awkward pieces and making them fit together.
The Pistons got a fantastic year out of Andre Drummond, and if his growth continues he’ll stay off the trade block. Not that the Pistons wouldn’t listen if a team wanted to take a big financial commitment off their hands, but it won’t be Detroit initiating those conversations like it could’ve been in years past. That means they’re locked into a Griffin-Drummond core with Jackson serving as their third main piece. The team’s play with and without him should give some hope that good health and a full offseason together will lead to a postseason return. The Pistons still have some spacing problems and will need to leverage the play of Bullock and Kennard accordingly.
Finding the right coach here will be imperative, as the Pistons have the talent to make the postseason but will need to play as more than the sum of their parts if they want to become a real threat. With a legitimate star in town, expectations should be high for Detroit this coming year.
August 22, 2019, 8:23 pmRobert CovingtonSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) will reportedly be "good to go" for the start of training camp in October.
Well, this is good news that we didn't hope we would need. Covington played 35 games last year and couldn't get over the bone bruise injury that kept him out for a majority of the year. We expected him to be ready to go, and the fact that we're even discussing this is slightly less than ideal.
Source: Dane Moore on Twitter
August 22, 2019, 3:27 pmKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.
Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.
August 22, 2019, 12:25 pmIsaiah CanaanPG, International
Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.
The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.
Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter
August 22, 2019, 11:58 amPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.
The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.
August 22, 2019, 11:54 amMyles TurnerC, Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.
Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.
August 21, 2019, 6:26 pmTrevon BluiettPF, Utah Jazz
Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.
Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.
Source: Tony Jones on Twitter
August 21, 2019, 5:25 pmZach CollinsC, Portland Trail Blazers
Zach Collins (ankle) began daily contact workouts on Monday and is on pace to head into training camp fully healthy.
Collins is heading into what could be a breakout season as he is likely to start at the power forward position. In the 2019 playoffs, the Gonzaga product blocked a shot in 11 of the 16 games including three games in which he blocked three, four and five respectively. Collins has averaged around 33% from distance throughout his career which is exactly what he shot in the postseason (7-21). If he is able to improve from long range and plays starters minutes, Collins is a can't-miss player. It's far from a guarantee though as the 21-year-old has never finished with standard-league value. It does seem like Collins will be ready for training camp barring a major setback.
Source: The Athletic
August 21, 2019, 10:34 amCory JosephPG, Sacramento Kings
Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.
Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.
Source: John Casey on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:33 pmTyronn LuePG, Los Angeles Clippers
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.
The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:28 pmPJ TuckerSF, Houston Rockets
P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.
The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.
Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter