Kelly Olynyk missed most of last season with injuries so it's easy to dismiss what he could have been or could have brought to the Pistons as a stretch 4 or 5, but I think the personnel added since last season really make him expendable.It seems that Isaiah Livers, Alec Burks, and now Bojan Bogdanovic make up for the loss of Olynyk's shooting and give the team added flexibility and depth in at least three position areas of need.
Saben Lee was personally one of my favorite developmental players, and I still think we haven't heard the last of him being at least a viable player in the NBA. Yet, in Detroit, with the addition of Jaden Ivey and the role we probably will have Killian Hayes play, not to mention the addition of Alec Burks, and the retention of Cory Joseph, there just wasn't a spot for him to play and develop much in Detroit.
Both Olynyk and Lee were good players although they didn't fit and contribute a whole lot in Detroit. However, I think Bojan Bogdanovic is a great addition and adds the depth and the shooting ability needed to bolster a formidable front line. With Livers, Bogdanovic, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart the team has four viable front court stretch options. Perhaps Kevin Knox, Michael Bagley, and Hamidou Diallo will eventually be a part of that mix too. However, the former four seem to offer the depth that a more competitive team needs to have.
Their added shooting ability compliments well with the back court players the team is assembling, in my opinion. Cade Cunningham, Ivey, Hayes, Burks, Joseph, and either Buddy Boeheim or the veteran Rodney McGruder offer a very balanced attack unit that compliments and can use the better shooting wings.
In the middle, the team also looks better to me based on now having better athleticism. Stewart is still the lynch pin here, but adding Nerlens Noel and hopefully carefully developing Jalen Duren provides a solid unit at the 5 to look with exciting speed and agility traits. Duren is perhaps too green and needs to become a tougher rebounder, so I'm not going to hope for too much contribution in the immediate future, but I am hopeful that Stewart and Noel can prove to be a reliable and consistent duo for the vast majority of minutes at the 5.
Dwayne Casey has to blend the talent in just the right way, but he has more shooting prowess and I think far more athleticism than he has ever had. The mix of veterans with the extremely youthful pieces also seems better than ever before too. Perhaps I was a bigger fan than most of when the 20-21 team had Mason Plumlee, Wayne Ellington, Blake Griffin, Delon Wright. Rodney McGruder, Jerami Grant, and Derrick Rose, but that veteran presence I think made a difference in building the character of Stewart, Bey, and Hayes. They had vets to look to, even if they weren't in their prime.
This year Noel, Burks, Bagdanovic, Joseph, and McGruder are a far smaller seasoned veterans committee, but they should be more dynamic, involved, and just as good of an influence on the younger players. Of course, Cunningham, Ivey, Bey, Stewart, Bagley, Livers, and Hayes are not only young, but the central core of this team that will dominate in setting its character and attitude.
If at least five of those seven can become star or fringe star players, then with the depth and abilities of the vets as well as the continuing development of two of the seven, I will stick my neck out and say, we got ourselves at least a .500 team, and maybe much better.