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Willie Reed is the backup center the Pistons desperately need

Defense, rebounding, and the ability to finish at the rim? Sign me up

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Los Angeles Clippers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Obviously, analysis on the recent blockbuster was heavily focused, and rightly so, on the impact that Blake Griffin would have on the Detroit Pistons both this season and beyond. The Pistons have acquired perhaps the best player to don the Motor City unis since the 2004 championship team.

But Griffin isn’t the only player Detroit received that should make an immediate impact? Along with Blake, the Pistons got what many would consider salary filler in Willie Reed and Brice Johnson, and while Ryan Pravato has already outlined the latter’s fit with Detroit in this really nice piece that you should read right now if you haven’t already, you should all be made aware that Reed is here to make a name for himself as well.

Reed, 27, hails from Kansas City, Missouri, and played two years of college ball at Saint Louis University before going undrafted in 2011.

Reed is a player who has had to serve his penance to get a shot in the league. He has spent several years in the D/G-League for the Springfield Armor, Reno Bighorns, Iowa Energy and our very own Grand Rapids Drive, before getting an NBA shot with the Brooklyn Nets in 2015-16. He has since operated on one-year deals, playing 2016-17 with the Miami Heat before signing with the Clippers last offseason.

Reed has career averages of 5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 12.6 minutes per game, over a span 149 career games, including 12 starts. He has shot 59.1 percent from the floor throughout his career, and 56.1 percent from the free-throw line, while proving he has finishing ability — career 60 percent shooter within 3 feet.

In terms of style of play, Reed is someone who is very similar to Eric Moreland on the defensive end, which is where I think we all agree Moreland’s value lies. Reed has a rebounding rate of 17 percent for his career, compared to Moreland’s 17.1 percent. Reed also has a higher career offensive rebounding percentage (12.5 to 10), while their block percentage is also similar (4.2 for Reed, 5.2 for Moreland).

However, where Reed really differentiates himself from Moreland is on the offensive end of the floor. Moreland, at times this season, made Aron Baynes look like an elite slip fielder (cricket reference, look it up), with his hands often letting him down in terms of securing the ball. Here’s some career numbers from the offensive side of the ball that may help sway you in terms of Reed’s ability to contribute from the backup C spot.

Offensive Efficiency

Reed Player Moreland
Reed Player Moreland
59.1 FG% 52.4
59.9 TS% 52.9
18.1 PER 11.7
16.3 USG% 7.8
9.5 TOV% 25.3
0.368 FTr 0.286
121 ORTG 113

Across the board, Willie Reed is the more efficient and effective offensive player. He uses the ball effectively, is a better shooter/finisher, and has a much more expanded offensive repertoire.

Reed also shines in terms of offensive versatility when scoring for a reserve big man, and while he isn’t a shooter in terms of a 3-point shot, he certainly offers more than Moreland.

Take a look at this breakdown of where Willie Reed takes his shots from, compared to Moreland.

Reed vs. Moreland - % of FGA by distance

FG% 0-3 3-10 10-16 16-3PT 3PT
FG% 0-3 3-10 10-16 16-3PT 3PT
Reed 60.6 26.4 8 3.7 1.1
Moreland 55.6 41.3 1.6 1.6 0

Reed obviously plays close to the basket predominantly like Moreland, but isn’t too afraid of stepping away on occasion. Moreland is almost exclusively in the 0-10 feet range, and I’m willing to bet that, in the 3-10 feet range, most of the shots are within 5-6 feet.

The real discriminator is the FG% from each distance, and here’s where it gets interesting.

FG% by distance

FG% 0-3 3-10 10-16 16-3PT 3PT
FG% 0-3 3-10 10-16 16-3PT 3PT
Reed 72.1 43 32.6 30 33.3
Moreland 68.6 34.6 0 0 0

Eric Moreland has never made a shot outside of 10 feet in his career. Willie Reed has made...*crunches the numbers*...more than that. Obviously, from a pure PPP perspective, it’s in everyone’s best interests for Reed (and obviously Moreland) to stay as close to the basket as possible, but a mid range percentage hovering in the 30s, if nothing else, at least makes defenders put a hand up. Reed is also effective enough in the post that he can catch the ball and make a decisive move that he feels comfortable with.


With the Pistons newest backup center, the bench unit’s offensive strategy evolves significantly. With Eric Moreland, you have an offensive non-factor who struggled to score, but would set effective screens and play hard defense. With Boban Marjanovic, you had a player who could score at will, but one who would often force the play to grind to a halt as the ball was fed to him, and he couldn’t play defense at all either.

With Reed, you get essentially exactly the same defensive production as you would with Eric Moreland, with enough of an offensive uptick that he can score effectively enough to remain relevant without tanking entire offensive possessions as much as Boban did.

Welcome to Detroit Willie, we hope you work well with the Johnsons.

Have your say below in the comments.