I’ve long asked myself the same question as it relates to the Detroit Pistons.
What’s the plan?
I know what my plan is — how I'd do things — but I’m not Troy Weaver. Entering his fourth year GM, Weaver has done a lot, but it sure doesn’t feel like we’re any closer to this being “restored” or whatever word you use to classify the slower-than-molasses rebuild.
Our fearless leader, Sean Corp, detailed the grim vibes around the rebuild in a great post you can check out here, and it brings me back to that same question — what’s the end result here? What does the finished product look and feel like?
When you put together a puzzle, the final picture becomes clearer and clearer with each piece that you place. I’m not seeing that here, and I wondered if I was alone in thinking that... so I went to the mean streets of X, formerly Twitter, to gauge Pistons Twitter.
I'm currently writing something on this, but would love to hear the collective Pistons Twitter feelings on this: What do YOU think is Troy Weaver's plan? Like, what does this franchise and roster look like when things turn a corner? I ask because right now I can't see it.— Brady Fred (@Brady_Fred) October 18, 2023
Here’s what the people said (thanks to all her engaged!):
There’s a plan?— Pistons Talk (@Pistons__Talk) October 18, 2023
I’ve joked that I’m not sure Troy knows what the final product is going to look like — he’s just accumulating assets along the way until somebody breaks out. Maybe that’s a healthy Cade Cunningham in his return this year or Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren as sophomores.
Maybe it’s Ausar Thompson as a rookie?
It feels like the Pistons are “Trusting the Process” in the same way the Sixers did under Sam Hinkie — it just hasn’t been as overt. The Process yielded 75 wins over four painful years of tanking under Hinkie before the NBA stepped in and gave him the boot.
The Restoration has yielded 80 wins over four painful years of tanking under Weaver.
I’m just saying.
Keeping Cade, Duran, Ausar. Possibly Ivey. Then consolidating for a #1 or #2 type of star. More than likely one of these 4 guys would also have to be included in that trade though, unfortunately.— Overthinker (@overthinker_10) October 18, 2023
I think Ivey is packaged in the next 9 months for a star— DB (@derekbrooks_) October 18, 2023
I think everyone wants this to be the case. Acquire a bunch of assets then go get a star.
The question is, what star can you go get? We live in an age of player empowerment, and disgruntled stars aren’t blowing up their agents phone telling them Detroit is the preferred destination when they demand a trade.
That’s not to say it can’t change, but for that to happen, the Pistons would need to show a pulse and prove to be the team a star would want to go to... because as much as many of us love Metro Detroit, it’s never going to be a draw for disgruntled stars like South Beach or LA.
All of this is why signing a difference-making star in free agency is a pipe dream, too, not to mention there are very few stars coming down that free agent pipeline considering the amount of extensions players are signing in recent years.
Detroit needs to follow the Cleveland Cavaliers’ path of consolidating pieces for a star who complements the remaining core. Darius Garland is an All-Star now and Evan Mobley is going to be one soon, but their development and play was enhanced by the addition of Donovan Mitchell prior to last season.
Trading for a star is the move. It always has been.
I think the roster is set except one position PF. I think he wants the core four +1 (likely FA) as the starting unit. Then have veterans “like” bojan burks morris as the basis for the bench unit. This is to get to be a top six team. But of course everything depends on Cade.— Pistons All Day (@bigdogpistons) October 18, 2023
I feel like all of this anti-Troy stuff feels entirely based in trading for Wiseman/Bagley. Every other move has been classic rebuilding GM that gets a bunch of credit (drafting the obvious player in the top 5, taking bad contracts for picks)— ⚡️⚡️⚡️ (@Macroball) October 18, 2023
Last season some were saying the Lions were behind a few other rebuilds. I guess they were wrong. If Troy sticks to his plan, I’m sure the Pistons will resemble the Lions soon.— Rocky Silipo (@RockySilipo) October 19, 2023
There are still vocal portions of the fanbase that think the core of Cade, Ivey, Duren and now Ausar are going to organically grow into a great team.
It could happen, but the odds of that are low.
We’ve seen it recently with the Memphis Grizzlies behind the massive growth of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson, Jr. Weaver was in OKC when the Thunder did it with Kevin Durant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but unless one (or two or three) of your draft picks blossom into bonafide All-Stars QUICKLY, you’ve basically risked your life savings on a +500000 parlay and the knee breakers are gonna be knocking on your door soon.
Step One: Stewart magically becomes a 40 percent three point shooter— A Wizard, A True Ausar (@thom_not_tom) October 18, 2023
Step Two: ???
Step Three: Profit
His plan is Cade plus Stewart-Duren at the 4-5. Everyone else is expendable but those are his guys. Pistons’ fans keep waiting for him to get a legit 4 but that’s not happening- he’s built the roster so they almost HAVE to play Stewart exclusively at the 4. That’s his dude— Robert James (@confusion_reign) October 18, 2023
Cade and four guys over 6'9 who have HEART— Lazarus Jackson (@lazchance) October 18, 2023
We got robbed of Cade last year so it’s hard to see future right now. Cade back settles down a lot for this team and I really believe in Ausar becoming something special too. It’s going to help everyone else on the team. May be tuff initially but I see a hard nosed team coming— Dan Kik (@DanKik12) October 18, 2023
The most charitable logic I can give Troy is that he really wants 2 centers on the court to match up with opposing bigs. He’s so sure he wants that that he’s willing to play 2 bad centers together to get used to it before acquiring a spacing center that fits this scheme.— Wyso (@detroit_wyso) October 18, 2023
I don’t think he has a plan. I feel like we’ve spent the last 2-3 years just taking stabs in the dark hoping something hits. It’s time to invest in our core 4 (CC, JI, JD, AT) and develop them as a group. Save money, collect assets so we can sign a big FA next summer.— Caylie (@CaylieB4) October 18, 2023
These were my favorite answers because they answered the question at hand.
We all can see and understand (to some degree) what Weaver has done so far. A lot of the people who responded here told me all the things he has done, but only a few really looked at the bigger picture.
The Restored version of the Pistons is just a massive team, right? They've got a jumbo point guard in Cade and it appears they want another big wing in Ausar Thompson alongside him in the backcourt. Two 6-foot-6 guards, that’s rare.
The same logic applies up front with the plethora of big men and the two-center lineups and whatnot. Maybe, eventually, someday, the plan is to get a real, floor spacing big out there alongside Jalen Duren. For now, it’s just a bunch off big ass dudes.
And all of this leads me to something that I’ve begun to think a lot about: it kinda feels like Isaiah Stewart is the lynchpin to all of this, doesn't it?
Just look at the evidence:
- Detroit invested massive draft capital in him, not the No. 16 pick in 2020, but also the future first Weaver dealt to get him now has Detroit in limbo without a tradeable first
- Detroit’s insistence on starting him, first under Dwane Casey and now under Monty
- Detroit pushed him to change his approach/game entirely by having him learn to be a stretch four on the fly
- Detroit handed him the seventh-largest rookie extension this summer
Now, I don’t think he’s as important as that evidence lays out, but it’s hard to say he’s not and it’s impossible to say Weaver doesn’t put an immense amount of value in him.
This all brings me to the point of this post: We don’t know the plan and I think that’s why people are so down on the Pistons coming into the season. It’s hard to get excited when the franchise is morose, but even more so when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The front office hasn’t done a good job communicating or articulating this, but Weaver is no wordsmith — unless he’s talking about Halle Berry — so maybe that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Right now, being a Pistons fan is like putting together a puzzle without a box to reference.
Hopefully, this season we start to see the bigger picture come into focus.