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SB Nation Mock Expansion Draft: Pistons protected players

If the NBA were to expand, which Pistons players would you protect?

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is suddenly talking softly about the possibility of expansion again. Flush with new TV money and an exciting crop of young stars, no time is better than the present. And lord knows we all want to see a team back in Seattle sometime soon.

That got a lot of us at SB Nation thinking, what if the NBA were to suddenly expand? Which players would each team protect and which would be available for a new expansion team?

For the Pistons the answer was not so easy. The Pistons are capped out and coming off a disappointing season. Their two highly paid stars were perhaps the two most disappointing players on the team last year.

Do you leave them open to be snatched away? Expansion teams are usually not interested in adding huge long-term contracts but when they are as young as Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, perhaps they would be interested.

There is also the question of which young players to protect at the expense of better, modestly priced veterans. The young guys are not necessarily good (yet), but they are super cheap and cost controlled for years.

The mid-tier guys are, for better or worse, some of Detroit’s most effective players.

After consulting with the entire DBB staff here are the eight players the Pistons should protect. You can share your own thoughts on who Detroit should protect in the comments and on Twitter using the hashtag #sbnmock

Who the Pistons are keeping

Andre Drummond

Might be a little controversial to the more reactionary Pistons fan (to put it kindly), but you can’t replace Drummond’s skills and you’re not getting anything back but salary relief, which wouldn’t be super beneficial to Detroit anyway. Let the Big Penguin stay and blossom in Detroit.

Avery Bradley

Ace defender. A 3-point shooter. Can guard multiple positions. Young enough to keep playing at this level for next several years. Check. Check. Check. Check. You’re staying in Detroit, Avery.

Tobias Harris

Harris might not get a lot of ink spilled about his game, but he is Detroit’s best player and a versatile offensive threat. His salary also decreases from last year to this year, and this year to last year. He’s approaching steal territory.

Stanley Johnson

No, not because he dropped 86 points in the OVO game. It’s because he’s a really good defender, he’s 21 and you don’t just give up on a guy with this much promise. Maybe he doesn’t develop his offensive game, but I sure would rather find out while he’s in a Pistons uniform.

Luke Kennard

He’s a supremely efficient offensive force who can score in a multitude of ways. The jury is still out on his effectiveness at the next level due to size concerns, but he’s for sure staying in town.

Henry Ellenson

He’s not quite as promising as Kennard only because I’m unsure he has a position at the NBA at this point. Maybe he’s a stretch power forward, maybe he’s a stretch center. Either way, he’ll struggle on defense and it’s up to him and the team and the trainers to get him to a point where he can hold his own at that end to let his offensive game blossom.

Ish Smith

Decisions are getting harder, and Smith is far from a perfect player, but he was super effective last season (a career year, even). And point guard is just too important to leave completely barren.

Reggie Jackson

Y’all thought we forgot about Reggie? Nope. This was a tough decision. Maybe Jackson’s injuries hamper the rest of his career. Maybe he’s on an albatross contract. Or maybe after a one-year blip he’s healthy and will return to the borderline All-Star player he was in 2014-15.

Who the Pistons leave unprotected

Langston Galloway

Sorry, bud. I know you haven’t played a game yet but with Reggie, Ish, Avery and Luke already locking down the guard rotation, you’re superfluous.

Jon Leuer

It pains me as the conductor on the Jon Leuer train to possibly say goodbye. Even with his immense struggles in the last 30 games, Leuer ended the season as Detroit’s second-most efficient offensive player. But he can’t hit 3s and that limits what a stretch power forward can bring you.

Boban Marjanovic

I just, I can’t talk about this right now. It cuts too deep.

Reggie Bullock

Wishing Reggie good health and major minutes on an expansion team. He’d probably kill it and get a huge contract once his two-year pact is up.

Anthony Tolliver

Expansion teams need veterans, and they need 3-point shooters. Something tells me Tolliver would be scooped up.

Eric Moreland

We’ll always have Orlando Summer League.