It seems like ancient history now, but the Pistons once pushed hard during the summer of 2014 for the services of Isaiah Thomas. On July 12, Thomas chose the Phoenix Suns. Three days later the Pistons signed their fallback option, D.J. Augustin for a two year, $6 million contract.
Both players would be traded later in the season in a hectic trade deadline day. But in the meantime, Augustin would prove to be a hell of a value for the Pistons.
After all, it was Augustin that essentially revitalized the Chicago Bulls season last year after being waived by the Raptors. Without Derrick Rose, Augustin stepped in to average 15 points on 57 percent true shooting with five assists over 61 games. Thanks to Augustin, the Bulls would manage 48 wins.
Things didn't start out smoothly for his time with the Pistons though. He shot just 38 percent from the field through his first 44 games as the backup behind Brandon Jennings. His 8 points and 4 rebounds per game wasn't the worst performance for a backup point guard, but when Jennings went down with an Achilles injury was when Augustin showed what he was capable of.
Augustin had a number of bright spots in his short time as a starter, including putting up 25 points and 10 assists in consecutive games. The last two Pistons to accomplish that feat were Jerry Stackhouse and Isiah Thomas. Even with some of Reggie Jackson's gaudy performances after his trade to the Pistons, he never managed to hit the mark in consecutive games.
In the 10 games between Jennings' injury and his trade to Oklahoma City along with Kyle Singler for Reggie Jackson, Augustin averaged 20 points per game on 61 percent true shooting and 8.2 assists with just 3 turnovers.
Despite his dominant offensive numbers, Augustin's upside remained limited thanks to his struggles on the defensive end. He finished the season with the team's second highest defensive rating and allowed his opposing player to shoot an average of 2.4 percent better from the field than their season norm.
It wasn't through a matter of effort, but rather some physical shortcomings in his lack of bulk or length that limited Augustin's effectiveness.
Overall though, Augustin proved to be a terrific value for his contract and arguably Stan Van Gundy's most successful acquisition in his first year as the organization's top man. To turn a $3 million per year contract into a player who proved to be an adequate starter when given the chance and was parlayed with another moderate player into a potential franchise cornerstone in Reggie Jackson was a terrific return on investment.