As the buzz of the NBA Draft fades, Pistons fans can bask in what several sport’s sites have graded as an A to A+ draft. The Pistons definitely have their backcourt of the future in Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham. Still, most of these same sites are less keen on the Pistons win total next year: projecting them to be bottom five in the league again. The Pistons have a path out of the lottery, but there is little to no wiggle room. The free agency period is crucial for the Piston’s future.
The Pistons have to target forwards. They have a host of young guards that need to get run to see how they fit long term: Saban Lee, Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, and Frank Jackson. Rodney McGruder and Corey Joseph also chipped in minutes last year and can provide a veteran presence. On top of this, most of the top of next year’s projected draft is wing/guard centered. Aside from Victor Wembanyama, there is not much help for the front court. Free agency is where the Pistons need to set themselves up this year.
Miles Bridges is the must get prospect for the Pistons. He is a coming off a breakout year where he averaged over 20 ppg. He is versatile enough to play either the 3 or the 4 and freakishly bouncy. A pairing of Bridges and Ivey athletically, mixed in with Cade’s craftiness, would put a ton of pressure on the interior of opposing defenses. Teams will have to rotate hard into the paint to keep from being posterized by this trio. This should open up the three point shooting, which was problematic for the Pistons last year. Bridges is not a great three point shooter, but he has shown the ability to be dangerous enough to warrant respect. The most appealing thing about Bridges is that he grew up about an hour north of Detroit. The Pistons let Jerami Grant go, and Bridges could be the perfect replacement. Speaking of the comparison, Grant spent large parts of the year on the DL while Bridges only missed two games. The Pistons should be already camped on the street next to Bridges house waiting for free agency’s official start. The Pistons have to come in with a max offer though.
Next, the Pistons need to get one of Bobby Portis, Otto Porter Jr, or Marvin Bagley III. Of the three, Porter might be my favorite. He is just shy of a career 40% three point shooter and just came off a NBA Championship. Two years ago, Bleacher Report had him as a top five 3 and D wing among free agents. The Pistons might not have the record to entice someone that just won a championship, but they have tons of cash. Porter did not even make $2.5 million last year with the Warriors. The Warriors are cash strapped and having to deal with a ton of players in free agency. Porter is a must get player as well. Dropping $40-50 a year on the pair is a no brainer. Putting out a starting lineup of Cunningham, Ivey, Bridges, Porter, Stewart next year with Jalen Duren, Saddiq Bey, and one of the plethora of guards off the bench isn’t a bad lineup. It is a lineup that could get the Pistons to the playoffs.
Granted, Porter is a stretch to get him to sign with the Pistons. I would be in talks with Bobby Portis. He is also a very good shooter and is high energy. His toughness and grit would fit well with the rest of the team. Honestly, I see Portis as a close second, if not preferable, to Porter due to his rebounding prowess (ranked 18th in the league according to Sports Forcaster). Either of these two individuals would stretch the floor and provide enough to make the Pistons. Marvin Bagley would be a good safety if the other two do not pan out. He had crazy high scouting grades coming out of college. He played well enough with the Pistons to be worth a look. Plus his age makes him more of a “fit” with the Piston’s youth movement. Still, I would like to see some veteran presence, so I am still more open to Portis and Porter as Bagley is a sub-par outside shooter and not the rim protector/rebounder that I would like to see. The best thing about Bagley’s case is that he is a Restricted Free Agent. The Pistons can see how the pursuit of Portis and Porter go and always match an offer if Bagley seems like the best option.
Aside from this, I’d pick up the club option on Diallo, Jackson, and Garza. This group won’t compete for the NBA Finals, but they will best case get us into the playoffs. Worst case scenario is another Top Five pick, which would add another guard/wing to the team. Still, I don’t think that Stewart, Porter/Portis, Bridges, Cunningham, and Ivey are a lottery team. The Pistons have a good coach and will have depth.