NBA Power Rankings Week 15: The Potential Reckoning Of The Pistons

01.30.18 9 months ago

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2017-2018 already looked to be something of a pivotal season for the Detroit Pistons and, on Monday evening, the team’s recent peril took a backseat to the bombshell acquisition of Blake Griffin. In truth, it has been an up-and-down campaign for Stan Van Gundy, Andre Drummond and company, ranging from the high of a red-hot start to the reality of slightly above-average play. In recent days, though, the bottom has fallen out for the once obviously playoff-bound Pistons and that set up nicely for a “make-or-break” feel to the remainder of the season.

At the time of the deal, the Pistons have dropped eight straight and, with that, have fallen completely out of the present playoff structure in the Eastern Conference. It should be noted, of course, that Detroit remains in striking distance and the addition of Griffin (and his monster contract) arguably improve the team on paper. Still, with Griffin owed more than $140 million (not a misprint) over four additional seasons and Detroit moving on from Tobias Harris who aside from Drummond has served as the team’s most consistent force, there’s reason to question the long-term upside of the trade.

In short, this is the definition of an “all-in” move from Van Gundy and the front office, pushing nearly every chip available into the middle in pursuit of a high-profile frontcourt pairing. Could the Drummond-Griffin duo work long-term? Perhaps, but it is far from a lock, with neither player providing much in the way of floor-spacing and both players operating in similar areas of the floor offensively.

Beyond the questions there and with Griffin’s contract, though, the Pistons now must address roster needs on the perimeter, with the Avery Bradley experiment serving as a cautionary tale and the loss of Harris’ shot creation leaving a hole. If Reggie Jackson can return in earnest, the Pistons would have that perimeter creator to lean on but, until that occurs, Detroit’s evaluation will be a tricky one and, without immediate progress, visions of a playoff berth as a result of this transaction are far from guaranteed.

Blake Griffin is in Detroit and, in the present, the Pistons might be better for it. For the front office, however, that “might” needs to be a definite, if only to offset the likely pain of owing Griffin more than $75 million over the final two years of his deal as the former All-Star advances into his mid-30’s on the aging curve.

In the meantime, it is virtually impossible to place the Pistons in our Dime Power Rankings. Alas, we try it anyway. Here we go.

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