This is the summer of our discontent, or at least the part of the summer where we all begin to get bored waiting for the season to start. So what better way to pass the time than to discuss amongst ourselves a few topics, both Pistons-related and non.
The last few weeks have brought both the 2016 draft and the 2016 NBA Free Agency, we discuss a few topics related to both.
#1- How did you think Stan Van Gundy and crew did this offseason?
Glenn Metzger (GM26): I think they played it safe and stayed on course. They could have made a big risk/big reward kind of trade like Orlando did in acquiring Ibaka, but I like that they kept the same crew together and just shored up weaknesses.
Kevin Sawyer: Not very well. I can respect that SVG has a vision for the kind of team he wants and the personnel whose talents he can maximize. If he wants to give the "one in, four out" method a go and staff accordingly, I think it limits him in terms of the talent he can acquire, but at least it's a strategy that plays into his strengths as a coach.
To that end, our first round draft pick and first free agent signing shoot south of 30% from three. Ellenson was tied for 29th out of 33 freshman power forwards (he would have been dead last among centers) in the NCAA in three point shooting. Ish Smith is certainly quick, but he is one of the worst shooters of his generation. Not sure how we can play SVG's style of basketball if we are one of the worst outside shooting teams in the league.
The Leuer signing is an overpay, but he at least fits the mold. Signing Boban was a shrewd move from both a business and talent perspective, and gives lie to the notion the starting price for talent was eight figures. If SVG can find a way to get those guys some real minutes and turn Baynes into an asset, I'll be more sanguine about the moves this offseason.
Michael Synder (mophatt1): The Pistons didn’t need a big name to keep trending upwards. They filled holes in their lineup with Smith and Leuer; there is no pressure on Ellenson to perform right away; and Boban is insurance incase Baynes leaves next year. Works for me. Too much emphasis is placed on what (role) players can’t do instead of what they can do. Smith - a noted bad shooter - can penetrate at will, push the pace and distribute, that’s why SVG inked him.
Lazarus Jackson (lazchance): I didn't think SVG and Crew needed to do too much this offseason... you can read my thoughts on DBB, actually. They stuck to the plan I thought they would.
Sean Corp: I think Stan Van Gundy did well, considering the market, especially with his big men. Boban Marjanovic could be an absolute heist considering how productive he was in limited minutes and Jon Leuer was the perfect versatile big who could play the four and the five, rebound and hit 3s. I'm less enamored with the money spent on Ish Smith, as I believe this was a time to either get one of the premier FAs or take a one-year flyer on a stopgap.
Brian Packey: Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower's main priority this offseason was adding long-term depth to the young core they already have in place. They weren't opposed to adding a starter and moving someone to the bench (see Al Horford rumors), but they knew they didn't need to make a splash to have a successful offseason. They knew they could get to the deep end with the big boys by only making a spl-Ish. (Ish Smith rim shot.)
Van Gundy also wanted to add a couple bigs, which they did in Jon Leuer and Boban Marjanovic. While Leuer can knock down threes and 1st round draft pick Henry Ellenson has a lot of potential to realize there to fit the classic Van Gundy vision, Van Gundy put less of a focus on his normal vision of acquiring outside shooters and more on what he saw worked so well for the Thunder against the Warriors in the Western Conference finals.
All in all, Stan Van Gundy and crew achieved what they really wanted to do.
Gabe Frye-Behar: Fine. It's clear SVG wants to see what he has, with the benefit of training camp, in a full season of Tobias Harris at PF. If the Pistons maintain the winning percentage from the partial first season of the THE (Tobias Harris Era), they're already in 50 win range, so with any improvement from Dre and Stanley Johnson they're pretty close to contention already.
Starting from those assumption the moves make sense. My preference going into free agency was for SVG to splurge on a big upgrade at back-up PF rather than back-up PG, and boy did the Pistons splurge on their frontcourt. I really like the fit with Leuer as a bigger and more versatile player in the Tolliver role, and while the Pistons grabbing Boban has barely registered outside of Detroit, he could pay huge dividends in certain matchups (see: Boban dismantling Whiteside).
Jamie Delaney: INT. RUTH'S CHRIS'S STEAKHOUSE. NIGHT
Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower are halfway through an entree of butter crusted bone-in Rib Eyes. A waiter finishes topping off Stan's glass of Merlot when Jeff looks up from his phone.
Jeff - "These contracts are incredible Stan. Doesn't matter if you're small market or Brooklyn, they are just dumping loads of money into these role players. People love saying that we need to overpay because we're not a destination, but now it seems that everyone is overpaying"
Stan (hoarse voice) - "I TELL YOU WHAT JEFF THE NBA IS JUST A DIFFERENT LEAGUE TODAY. THESE GUYS ARE MAKING LARGE AMOUNT OF MONEY AND TEAMS ARE PUT INTO A DIFFICULT SITUATION."
Jeff- "I'm just glad that Andre trusted Tom and waited a little bit to sign the extension. The Ish contract was a little rich, but with him, Leuer, and Boban joining the fold, we added size and the ability to play 2 completely different versions of ball. If Ellenson and Gbinjie can give us some good rotation minutes as well, this is a deeper team than a year ago."
Stan, yelling to a waiter - "I SAID MORE CREAM SPINACH. RUN ANDREW RUN!"
Jeff's phone rings
Jeff - "It's Pope's agent....again"
Stan - "ANSWER IT NOW"
Steve Hinson : Two thumbs up. It might have been possible to acquire talent like Ish Smith, Jon Leuer, and Boban while spending less money, but there's something to be said for finding the guy you like and going to get them without being scared away by the dollar amount.
Kenneth Wallace (revken): I think Stan, Jeff and the gang did well, although only time will tell. Henry Ellenson looks like a kid with solid potential as a scoring 4/5. Michael Gbinije is an interesting prospect who could possibly play a valuable role as both a PG and wing. Ish Smith, John Leuer and Boban Marjanovic strengthen our bench considerably. And, last but not least, signing Andre Drummond up on a long-term max contract was essential business. I think we have a coherent plan in place and all of these moves make sense in that context.
Vincent Diringer: Very well! The Pistons are one of the most improved teams in the East. Jon Leuer and Boban Marjanovic were great pickups that will really help the team, whilst the Ish Smith signing and the entire draft process had the surprise factor I’ve come to expect from Stan Van & Co., and I can’t wait to see how he puts all the pieces together.
#2- A few people saw Thon Maker as a possible target for the Pistons in the Draft. Is for real or was he a stretch by Milwaukee?
Glenn Metzger (GM 26): I have no idea. If was coming out of college instead of high school and out up these numbers I don't think people would be freaking out this much, but I didn't actually see him play, so I can't say.
Maker could be legit, but was a stretch simply by virtue of being an unknown quantity. This is all the more true given that his age is unknown. At 19, his height and versatility might offset come concerns about size (and the lack of game data). At 23, those concerns would have taken him out of draft consideration entirely. I do wonder whether the Bucks brass are overreacting to the team's reputation as the quintessential "treading water" team, and rolling the dice for that reason.
Kevin Sawyer: Maker could be legit, but was a stretch simply by virtue of being an unknown quantity. This is all the more true given that his age is unknown. At 19, his height and versatility might offset come concerns about size (and the lack of game data). At 23, those concerns would have taken him out of draft consideration entirely. I do wonder whether the Bucks brass are overreacting to the team's reputation as the quintessential "treading water" team, and rolling the dice for that reason.
Michael Synder (mophatt1): Anyone who believes to have a definite answer is either 1) Lying 2) Trying to sell you something or both. Maker is the very definition of a draft day stretch.
Lazarus Jackson (lazchance): It depends on your definition of "for real;" Thon showed that he wasn't unprepared for a higher level of competition and was worth risking a first-round pick. But will he have a better career, than, say, John Henson is still up for debate.
Sean Corp: Maker is going to have to stop fouling out of summer league games before I'm ready to consider him anything more than a curiosity. That being said, even though he has no basketball skills, he does have the athleticism and energy to do some decent things on the court while he figures it all out so I don't think he'll be glued to the bench this year.
Brian Packey: The Bucks' GM John Hammond actually admitted, "there is a reach here, no doubt whatsoever," so he's probably a reach, but he could be for real. He showed potential in five summer league games and seems to have the intangibles you would want to see in a 19-23 year old rookie. For the Pistons' sake, let's hope he's not for real.
Gabe Frye-Behar: Thon is a true 7 footer, he can move his feet laterally surprisingly well and he can jump. NBA teams have gotten significantly better since the Darko days of bringing along raw prospects. If he can be convinced to focus first on defense and rebounding it's actually pretty likely he becomes a productive pro. Reports from summer league were kinda hilarious as the gap between how he sees himself vs. what will lead to him being a good NBA player is still pretty large. But the rare combination of size/speed/athleticism is absolutely real, and means if he figures things out he could be very, very good.
Jamie Delaney: If he went to any other team besides the Milwaukee Bucks, I would say he is a stretch. The Bucks are intriguing as a destination for Thon because they already have a framework for his development in Giannis. The problem is Giannis is still in that "in development" phase where we're not really sure if he's going to make that leap to superstardom. We see flashes of it here and there, particularly against the Pistons last year (shudders) but it's not a done deal. If Thon follows his trajectory, this will be an interesting team to compete against in 2-3 years time.
Steve Hinson: Both. He's definitely a real prospect and there's no shame in taking such a talented 19 year old with just a 10 pick in what I still think was a crummy draft. But it seems like there were some other directions the Bucks could have gone that would have made a lot more sense.
Kenneth Wallace (revken): I think it's too soon to say about Thon Maker, though the Summer League highlights look impressive. As we've seen before (Austin Daye), some guys do well in that setting but are never able to translate their performance to the regular season. Still, Bucks' fans have reason to feel optimism about his potential.
Vincent Diringer: Real. Watching him in Summer League just reminds me of Giannis Antetokounmpo, the length, the potential and the skills he has shown so far could lead him to becoming a very versatile and serviceable player. I look forward to seeing him develop.
#3- The Lakers looked to have some interesting young players in summer league. With them and the vets they signed are the Lakers a threat this season and if not how many seasons until they will be?
Glenn Metzger (GM 26): I don't see them as a threat to do much, maybe steal the #8 seed behind veteran play and keep Jim Buss his job. Of that happens I think they're years away from being championship caliber, because I don't think Buss knows what he is doing.
Kevin Sawyer: Well, they will get better by virtue of dumping the Kobe Bryant albatross. Aside from that, their offseason acquisitions are expensive and mediocre (though I like Tarik Black), and Ingram really isn't a "top three pick" sort of talent. It's Los Angeles, and players theoretically want to play there, so maybe they will contend soon, but I don't see this assemblage getting them to the playoffs, much less contention, any time soon. Six years?
Michael Synder (mophatt1): They’re a definite threat….to win 30 games. The Lakers 2016 free agency signings mean very little as most of their stock is tried up in their recent draft picks. It’s a talented core that could seriously compete within the next three or four years.
Lazarus Jackson (lazchance): The Lakers will not be a threat until Jim Buss is removed from power. Ask me this question next year when Buss is forced to recuse himself and Russell Westbrook's contract expires.
Sean Corp: The Lakers are a threat for a top-five pick in the draft but nothing else. It will be at least two or three years for Walton to install the system and players he wants and for the young guys to grow. Just because they're not a laughing stock anymore doesn't mean they're going to be a good or even mediocre basketball team.
Brian Packey: Luke Walton was a good get, but honestly, I stopped paying attention to the Lakers after they paid Timofey Mozgov. They won't be a threat until they sign somebody good.
Gabe Frye-Behar: Heh... The roster is a bizarre mix of players at different ends of their careers. I really like D'Angelo Russell's game and still think he projects as a potential star, but the Lakers just re-signed Jordan Clarkson who duplicates a lot of the same offensive skills and doesn't add much defensively. Long-term Russell and Ingram are two solid building blocks, but both are likely years away from being able to lead a team to the playoffs.
Jamie Delaney: Zika virus is more of a threat than the 2016-17 Lakers (too soon?). Ingram's highlight reels at Summer League have been tantalizing - he's looking like an uber-athletic Sheed at times, but he doesn't have the look of a rookie who can will this Lakers team to a playoff spot in the roman coliseum that is the Western Conference. I also don't think it is in the Lakers DNA to be patient and let this team develop, I expect 2-3 of these young guys to get packaged by February of next year. If I'm Sam Presti, I'm League Passing every Laker's game for D'Angelo and Randle with ideas of Russ for youngins and picks.
Steve Hinson: They're a long way from being good. They have some nice young pieces that make sense together, but seems like even a best case scenario would be 3-4 years from being able to even shoot for .500. And I don't think they'll be patient enough for that, will blow it up before then.
Kenneth Wallace (revken): I think the Lakers are a threat to not be the worst team in the West. Jose Calderon, Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov make them better, but not by much. Rookie Brandon Ingram will probably become very good, but not yet. Otherwise I think they have a long way to go - barring any big free agent acquisitions. With just the talent they currently have, and allowing for reasonable development, I do not see them becoming more than a lower level playoff team. But if they can attract or trade for a superstar, their ceiling will rise. Given their history, that possibility cannot be ruled out.
Vincent Diringer: Definitely not a threat this season, but they have a promising young core that could make them a team to be reckoned with in about two, maybe three years. Ingram, Russell, Randle and Clarkson are the future of that franchise.
So, lots of information and basketball knowledge in there...phew! But hey, there are slim pickin's these days on the interwebs for NBA fanatics so time is of little consequence right?
What are your thoughts DBB?