Bojan Bogdanovic remains one of the most-named players in the lead-up to the NBA Trade Deadline. The Detroit Pistons forward is cost-controlled for a few seasons on a team-friendly deal, one of the league’s best 3-point shooters, and also acquitting himself nicely as a high-usage scorer on an anemic offensive team.
It’s no surprise when Marc Stein reports that the number of teams interested in trading for Bogdanovic at the deadline has reached double digits. Stein also reports, though, that the asking price for Bogdanovic is high — an unprotected first-round pick on the high end and a first-rounder and a good, young player on the low end.
So far teams are balking and hoping Detroit’s price will go down. Detroit is at least indicating to the league they’re perfectly comfortable keeping Bogdanovic this season and running it back with him next year as well as some reinforcements through free agency, trades and the draft.
Ask Pistons fans about Bogdanovic, and you’ll get an array of answers as far as what it makes sense as Detroit looks to improve. First, there is no question that Bogdanovic is Detroit’s most dangerous offensive player. But there is also little argument that he’s also one of the team’s most porous individual defenders. Only rookie Jaden Ivey and, distressingly, Saddiq Bey seem to challenge him for that (dis)honor among the regular rotation players.
Second, there is Bogi’s age to consider. He’s be 34 years old before the season is over, and Detroit seems years away from legitimate contention. But that timeline is the biggest source of friction among Pistons fans.
Do you trade a premier asset now for assets you won’t see mature until years down the road — either in young players who need seasoning to turn into good players or literal years until a potentially very good first-rounder actually conveys.
The Pistons will eventually need to actually surround their young talent with good basketball players. Cade Cunningham will need someone to pass it to who can reliably hit shots next season. Should the Pistons prioritize a young player even more than a lottery ticket first rounder that is either unprotected or lightly protected from say, the Lakers, that would convey in 2027?
I’ve asked plenty of questions, so I guess at this point I’ll give you my personal answer — the Pistons need a good, young player now. Specifically, they need a wing who has some athleticism and can defend.
We knew the Pistons were going to miss Jerami Grant even as the ability to let him go to a preferred destination and get a pick later used on Jalen Duren was too good to pass up. But the drop off in the team’s defense without Grant has been so bad it needs to be addressed.
The team’s defensive rating is 117.7 a year after sitting at an already bad 113.3. A good team might be able to hide Bogdanovic’s defensive shortcomings, but Detroit is not that team. Not with Jaden Ivey in the starting lineup as the other wing, and not with Saddiq Bey as a primary wing backup who also shares the floor with Bojan quite a bit.
To simplify things, I made a chart I will be referring to in the lead up to the trade deadline when people float trade rumors or build fake trades and send them my way.
Perhaps looking for a more immediate upgrade is being too impatient, but this team cannot afford to be five years away anymore. Not in year three of a major rebuild. They need bodies who can defend on the wing yesterday, and if there are able to procure one — even at the cost of their perimeter shooting, I think it would only help things fall into place a little easier for players like Ivey, newly installed power forward Isaiah Stewart and rookie center Jalen Duren.
Each of those players is begging for someone, anyone, to help them instill some defensive principles and sanity on that end of the floor, and because they’re all Spider-man memeing each other pointing out who is responsible for which blown switch, communication breakdown, and late help defense, it is clear that this is a bad situation, one that is getting worse, and one that could snowball into something that could impede the progress of a young roster who needs to keep building momentum.
At this point, I’d prefer a Bodanovic trade to a contender, and in return I would want a young defensive wing player with a good amount of upside and a low first-round pick. I don’t want to hold out for multiple first-rounders in 2029, and I don’t want to hold on to a good shooter on the premise that this team will magically develop and fix itself on the defensive end. It needs help, and it needs it yesterday. And a Bogdanovic trade is the best way to make that happen.