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DBB on 3: Thoughts on the Blake Griffin Pistons

It wasn’t hard to come up with this group of topics

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a while since the last edition of DBB on 3. To be honest I was having a hard time coming up with topics that weren’t doom and gloom. But luckily along comes Blake Griffin and presto...

Enjoy, lots to dig into. There’s even a serving of Hypno Aid in there.

1: What grade do you give the Blake Griffin trade? If your grade has wavered like mine has please describe what change(s) if any has taken place since you first heard the news until now.

Justin Lambregtse: I give it a B simply because of the injury risk associated with Blake Griffin. I have no issue giving up the draft pick and while I love Tobias Harris, Blake Griffin is better. Yeah, the contract sucks but it’s not like the Pistons are a free agent destination anyways.

Ben Gulker: I give it a C. I think Griffin may be a little overrated, and there’s no getting around the injury history and long-term salary implications. There is the chance that it could go really well, Griffin stays healthy, and his game ages more gracefully than one would normally expect from a player who relies so heavily on athleticism. But I see that as a bit of a long shot.

Mike Snyder: B+ - The only thing that matters is health. If he’s able to stay on the court then his skillset backs up the price tag. I’ll take the chance.

Sean Wheeler: It’s an A. SVB turned Brandon Jennings, Caron Butler, Shawne Williams, Boban Marjanovic and three draft picks into Blake Griffin. Blake’s injuries aren’t the Oden/Embiid type that cause concern. The team played worse with Bradley (his role may have been miscast) and Blake is an upgrade on Tobias. SVB finally nailed the kind of player fans have been wanting for years - an All-Star who can get his own and has superior athleticism. He’s overpaid? It’s risky? Welcome to the NBA.

Steve Hinson: On its own, I give it a B. I hope it’s paired with another move for some additional offensive firepower, but the basic idea of upgrading a position by moving the current person at that spot along with non-contributors is a solid one. Hopefully there’s just enough left to make that additional move without it hurting too badly.

Ben Quagliata: B. I loved Tobias Harris and I’m never crazy on selling draft picks but the fact is Blake Griffin is the best player the Pistons have had since the 04 championship team. It also stops the team from being middling, either through vast improvement or spectacular failure.

Lazarus Jackson: It’s a B now and a C-to-F move later. I think that’s the best way to think about this trade - delineate between the short and long-term.

Ryan Pravato: Within the first 12 to 24 hours I was on the D train with all of my life belongings. Now I’m on the B-minus train. The change of train was because why the hell not. Let’s have some fun and dont worry about tomorrow. Blake Griffin is the dude.

I probably won’t be saying that when the team loses two straight first round series because of an injury to one of their “big three” or rather because of the lack of team depth (lack of flexibility now). But right now, Stan Van Gundy has shown he has big balls, and that I can certainly respect. Heck, this trade might be crazy enough to work out. Weird things happen. Stan needs to coach better, though.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: B-. Griffin is very unlikely to out-produce the value of his contract, and it’s not great to trade positive assets for a guy who probably won’t provide surplus value. That being said, I don’t think it’s any worse than the realistic alternatives (read: ones that don’t involve rebuilding). Griffin at his number is better than the next crop of Leuers and Galloways and Bobans, and the Pistons haven’t proven they can do much better than that with their cap space. He’s a star with some juice left in the tank. It’s not the best trade, but I’d rather this than roll through more middling FA signings while retaining the current core.

Jamie Delaney: For the first 48 hours after the trade I was firmly in camp D+ and now that I have had some more time to dive into Blake clips I will bump that ever so slightly to a C+. Blake is undoubtedly a great basketball talent, but I keep coming back to one major issue that Mark Deeks wrote ritten about after the trade:” Blake should be provided with spacing, not relied on to create spacing.” Sounds a lot like a Josh Smith problem and his contract is just such an anchor.

David Fernandez: After a couple of days to think about it, I give this trade a B-. I didn’t know how to feel about it at first, but the fact that Detroit acquired (by far) the best player, shipped out Boban’s dead money and Bradley, who would not have been re-signed, are inherent positives. Just hope BG can stay healthy.

Jordan Bellant: I’m a Griffin apologist and have been for two years now. So I give it a B+, as it’s a risk worth taking. We are not a free agent destination nor are we in a weak enough position to successfully tank. Plus, in the next few years, there is less incentive in tanking. So we have to swing for the fences.

2: If no more moves are made do you think he gets us back into the playoff picture, and if so where do you see us 1-8?

Justin Lambregtse: I think this move comes a couple weeks too late to get us back in the playoff picture. We will definitely be better and probably finish at or a couple games above .500, but unless Philly or Washington collapses, it probably won’t be enough.

Ben Gulker: Whether or not this team can play at a .500 level until Reggie Jackson gets back is an open question for me. If Reggie can get back at something like 90% by game 60, I think there’s a chance this team can squeeze into one of the bottom slots.

Mike Snyder: Detroit is six games in the loss column from the 3rd seed. Obviously climbing that high is far-fetched but there are a lot of moving parts that could fall in the favor of Detroit. How quickly they adapt to Griffin will go a long way in climbing the standings.

Sean Wheeler: Well, they could win their next 8 or 9 games (only road game is vs the Hawks). They should be above .500 when Reggie comes back. If Blake gels quickly, I could see them going 23-10 the rest of the way to finish with 46 wins, so maybe the 5th or 6th seed. Sound crazy? A healthy Reggie made this team 19-14. Project that win percentage over the last 21 games and they go 12-9. Add in the Blake upgrade and you get an extra win or two. Also, I bet a friend they’d win 46 games and I’m wishing that into existence to spite him.

Steve Hinson: It won’t be easy. .500 ball won’t be enough. It’ll require Reggie Jackson making a smooth return from injury and/or Blake Griffin coming out on fire with his new team. And at best, an 8 seed is probably the highest the team can hope for.

Ben Quagliata: If the team can gel quickly, I see no reason why they can’t climb back into the 6-8th seed neighbourhood. They’re only 2 games out of 8th right now and while 6th may be a bridge too far, the NBA is on some serious drugs right now.

Lazarus Jackson: With the injury to John Wall and the near-constant potential for injury with Joel Embiid, it’s not impossible for the Pistons to climb back into the playoff picture. No higher than the 7 seed though, barring some weird tiebreaker shenanigans with Indiana.

Ryan Pravato: I’m not sure there’s any pieces left to make more trades for this’s tough when Leuer and Jackson are both injured and Kennard and Stanley are young pieces that might only be capable of being rotational players in the league (and most teams realize this probably, so little value will be given in a trade). I think SVG is going into this thinking that starting next season is when this team will compete for a 4 / 5 seed (and they very well could). The playoff chances this season seem awfully slim considering the current point guard / wing position currently. The 8 seed could be in play, but that doesn’t do much of anything.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Playoffs are a definite possibility. Still a lot of games left. I wouldn’t bet on the Pistons catching any of the top six teams. Philly I love but we’d have a 30-40% of catching them organically, I’d think, and that’s not including the chance Embiid could miss significant time. Indiana I still want to not believe in, but they have a better stat profile than Milwaukee (then again, Bucks have Bledsoe and no Kidd now). 538 gives us a 34% chance of making the playoffs not knowing about the roster shakeup, which seems about right to me. Griffin deal probably adds 15-20% to that.

Jamie Delaney: I think this gets us to sneak into the 8th seed, but no higher. Washington losing John Wall for 2 months certainly helps matters, and I think Indy might run out of steam down the stretch. It’s really going to depend on how quickly SVG leans on Blake as a playmaker because I can’t see Reggie being back in game form till Mid-March, and by then it could be too late.

David Fernandez: Detroit has a better shot at nabbing a playoff spot now than they did 72 hours ago. Not saying it’s likely, but they’re only 1.5 games behind Philly for the 8th spot with 33 games left.

Jordan Bellant: I think we steal the 8th seed from Indiana, Washington or Philly. I believe Philly is most vulnerable, and we’re only two games back now. We can play the role of “scrappy 8th seed that gets swept” again.

3: If Griffin manages to essentially live up to expectations could you imagine him being a part of a 4th Pistons championship? What pieces would need to be upgraded if so?

Justin Lambregtse: I don’t see it unless the Pistons are able to pull off a trade for another star or Stanley Johnson or Luke Kennard become one (that is extremely unlikely). I think the Pistons will cap off as a 2nd round playoff team and may put up a fight and get close to the conference finals. After the last 10 seasons, I will gladly take that.

Ben Gulker: Anything is possible, but this seems highly unlikely to me. Assuming Reggie Jackson is retained (replacing him will be extraordinarily hard given limited flexibility), you’re locked into a Jackson-Griffin-Drummond core. That’s pretty good, but not great, 48 wins or so. The Drummond and Griffin deals in tandem offer limited flexibility, especially in the timeline necessary to cash in on Griffin’s prime.

Mike Snyder: Golden State has a monopoly on championships over the next three – four seasons. Judging this trade by “ringz” is unfair. What they (hopefully) did is put themselves in a position with two stars so that if there happens to be an unfortunate turn of events in the Bay, they can capitalize and compete.

Sean Wheeler: Could I imagine that? You bet. I think Blake will get even better shooting threes during the next few seasons, and SVB will figure out how to surround him and Dre with complementary talent. PG/SG/SF all could be upgraded, and two of the three likely will if they’re going to contend. If Stanley learns to shoot threes it’ll solve the SF problem. My hope is that Reggie plays well the rest of the year, impresses in the playoffs and they use him to upgrade the PG spot in the offseason.

Steve Hinson: Bold question Chris! And yeah...I can see it. At least, the route to a title is clearer than it was last week. I see three key aspects: Either Stanley Johnson becomes reasonably reliable on offense or his spot in the rotation goes to someone who is; Luke Kennard becomes a reliable, efficient 15 point per game player; the team (namely Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin) stay healthy. A title is probably out of their reach, but the Eastern Conference is reasonably open. A Finals appearance isn’t completely unrealistic.

Ben Quagliata: Yeah look, probably not, not in this era of Warriors dominance anyway. They’d definitely need to look at point guard, and can you rely on the trio of Johnson, Bullock and Kennard to be the key wings to an NBA champion? Unlikely.

Lazarus Jackson: Whoah whoah whoah championship? Who said anything about Championships? The Pistons will need to worry about winning a couple playoff series before they start wondering about Western conference opponents or anything like that. Unless other teams start lopping off pieces of the Warriors, nobody else is winning a championship anytime soon. Nothing wrong with that.

Ryan Pravato: 3. No. Look at Boston’s talent and pieces, Philadelphia (if healthy), Milwaukee potentially, and even Toronto..none of those team will get any worse in the coming 2-3 years most likely (most will get much better), and overall Detroit doesn’t have the chops to compete with this roster as is. But it’s not like I hope I’m right about all this.

Jacob Kuyvenhoven: Nah. Expectations are not that Griffin could be the best player on a championship team, at least mine aren’t. He was closer than people realize to that in LA a couple of those years, and we may have better depth than those teams, but we also don’t have prime Chris Paul. He’s not a top-10 guy in the league and other top-10 guys have solidly better supporting casts than he does, so it’s hard to really project any championship upside, unfortunately.

Jamie Delaney: I think he could be part of a team that makes a run at the Eastern Conference title but not a championship if he was 6 years younger maybe but since he falls within the same competitive window as Curry, Durant and LeBron I just don’t see a clear path to a championship barring catastrophic injury - Blake is going to be remembered as our generation’s Charles Barkley.

David Fernandez: As long as the Warriors have Steph, Durant and Draymond, I don’t think this move gets Detroit over the hump even if they’re able to improve at the point and small forward slots. Too much firepower in the Bay, but Detroit could be actual Eastern Conference contenders if Blake fits in schematically, stays healthy, and balls out next to Andre Drummond.

Jordan Bellant: I’m interested to see how Kennard and Stanley play on the wings. I like how they compliment each other and that Stanley has come out and said he prefers to be paired with a lefty. So I want a point guard. Maybe when Reggie’s contract is up we can open a little space and can go for Goran Dragic, Jeff Teague or George Hill in the summer of 2020.


That’s what we think. What do you think about the Blake Griffin trade? Please copy/paste the topics and give us your answers in the comments below.

1: What grade do you give the Blake Griffin trade? If your grade has wavered like mine has please describe what change(s) if any has taken place since you first heard the news until now.

2: If no more moves are made do you think he gets us back into the playoff picture, and if so where do you see us 1-8?

3: If Griffin manages to essentially live up to expectations could you imagine him being a part of a 4th Pistons championship? What pieces would need to be upgraded if so?