In lieu of doing a Media Week Day 2 blog, I recorded a podcast. Sorry, and you’re welcome.
Anyway, on Day 3 of Media Week, Troy Weaver decided to double down on his draft selection of Isaiah Stewart and his Day 1 prioritization of Mason Plumlee and Jahlil Okafor in free agency. His defense? Defense and rebounding lead to winning:
Weaver: "Let the record show, there was a lot of talking about us collecting centers. Absolutely. I love big guys. I believe that's the way you when, by controlling the backboards. I've never seen a team win the title without that."— James Edwards III (@JLEdwardsIII) December 3, 2020
#Pistons Troy Weaver said he likes Plumlee's passing and Okafor's offensive rebounding and that they're both suited for today's basketball style.— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) December 3, 2020
Troy Weaver on the importance of rebounding: " It’s the number one thing I look at, controlling the backboard. If you control the backboard, you’re going to win a high percentage of your games … that’s going to be a big emphasis. We expect to see an uptick there."— Omari Sankofa II (@omarisankofa) December 3, 2020
This flagrantly disregards the NBA’s trend towards small-ball! The future is five ballhandling 6’7 guys on the floor at one time! Was Troy Weaver in a coma during the Golden State Warriors reign?
Ho-ho-hold on now, strawman. Troy Weaver’s not wrong - three of the four most recent teams in the conference finals were anchored by their bigs (Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, and Bam Adebayo). Traditionally, in the playoffs, as pace slows, legs tire, and the average level of talent increases, the humans who are taller have an advantage. Winning teams defend and rebound, and Troy Weaver built a team that can defend and rebound.
Additionally, Troy Weaver added and subtracted a lot of centers... but he didn’t spend a lot of cap space doing so. Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor, and Isaiah Stewart combined will make less than Andre Drummond in 2020-21. We all laugh at the Plumlee overpay (and the waive-and-stretch of Dewayne Dedmon that made that happen) but the Pistons are allocating a mere 13 percent of their 2020-2021 salary (~$15,600,000 of their $116,736,929 in salary) to the center position. Even if Plumlee is overpaid by $3 million dollars... he only makes $8 million a year! $2 million less than Jon Leuer! The Pistons are hardly in a Giles Corey situation.
Speaking of Plumlee, he gave an amazing answer regarding how he can help Killian Hayes develop:
Mason Plumlee went into detail on how he can help Killian Hayes in the pick-and-roll: "The best help I can be to him is understanding what he likes." pic.twitter.com/Ra5FBq2lar— Omari Sankofa II (@omarisankofa) December 3, 2020
Is that answer alone worth $8 million dollars? No. But it’s the clearest example yet of why the Pistons valued Mason Plumlee at what they did. A guy who’s willing to offer up that level of detail about his craft to the media is going to fill your rookie point guard’s head with all the right options and help that guy get better.
It looks funky, but Troy Weaver is committed to building the Pistons team he wants to build. He reiterated his expectations for this team again:
#Pistons Troy Weaver: "The expectation is to be competitive. With a shortened season and dealing the pandemic, the goal is to put a team on the floor that the city can be proud of ... we want a team with an identity that fits Detroit."— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) December 3, 2020
(Notice that that answer includes nothing about wins and losses.)
Those expectations continue to clash with what fans express as a desire. As a first-time GM with no baggage, though, we should give Weaver, and his methods of roster construction, the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? Maybe an NBA-renowned talent evaluator knows what it takes to build a roster better than you or I do.