It was all fun and games when the NBA intelligentsia made fun of the Detroit Pistons for seemingly having a roster full of centers. The Pistons might have been laughing then, but they’re certainly not laughing now as there remains just one healthy center left on the roster — rookie Isaiah Stewart.
Second-year forward Sekou Doumbouya was forced into action as a backup center in yesterday’s loss against the Indiana Pacers, and he is now listed as out for tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics with a concussion.
A couple weeks ago head coach Dwane Casey was wondering aloud if he’d have to slot Doumbouya at small forward just to find him minutes, and now the Pistons are desperately wondering what the’ll do without their 20-year-old break-glass-in-case-of-emergencies big man.
Because it is certainly an emergency at this point. The team typically rests veteran Blake Griffin on one of the two games in a back-to-back, but I imagine they won’t have that luxury tonight against Boston.
Griffin could at least play some facsimile of a small-ball center against reserve units, but if the Pistons stick to their guns and rest Griffin, I’m not sure what they’ll do. Does starting small forward Jerami Grant become a backup center playing big minutes? Do you play Josh Jackson at backup center and just let all hell break loose? It should be interesting.
The starting spot, at least, offers a bit of a silver lining.
In Stewart’s first start of his career, he shined bright with 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting and some quality production on both ends of the floor. Yes, Domantas Sabonis used his superior craft to overwhelm the rookie big man at times, but Stewart delivered everything you could hope for in his first chance at big minutes for the Pistons.
Doumbouya’s concussion was almost certainly sustained in the last minutes of the Pacers game after he to the floor after a rebound attempt of a Saddiq Bey missed free throw. While on the ground a passing Edmond Sumner kneed Doumbouya in the back of the head. No foul was called.
Okafor is expected to be out between 6-8 weeks, and there has been no announced timetable for Plumlee, who sat out the game against the Pacers with what the team called elbow bursitis. If Doumbouya is in the concussion protocol, he could miss the next few games at least.
Where is Dewayne Dedmon when you need him?