The Pistons aren't tanking, but are still hopefully playing their way into a top five pick


The Pistons, clearly, still need impact players. With plenty of salary flexibility coming in the offseason, trades and free agency are both in play as ways to land those types of players. But with the team dealing with injuries to key players, a tough schedule coming up and teams behind them in the standings playing a bit better of late, I wrote about a possible positive on the horizon in today’s Detroit Free Press column — the Pistons could have a legitimate shot at getting a top five pick in the draft as the season winds down:

Now, no fan, myself included, wants to openly root for his or her team to lose. But if it happens to play out that way, well, no harm done. There isn’t a particular player in this draft that fan bases are desperate for their team to get — like Anthony Davis, last year for example. But the current playoff landscape should serve as an example of why a top 5 pick won’t hurt the Pistons’ cause at all. Of the 16 teams who would be in the playoffs today, only Indiana, Milwaukee, Denver and Golden State are doing so without significant contributions from a player who was picked in the top five in his draft.

It’s true, there are other ways to acquire those types of talents, and with their pending cap space in the offseason, the Pistons are certainly in position to look for that type of impact player in free agency or trades. But those moves are dependent on either teams being willing to trade talent or individuals being willing to sign with the Pistons. The organization can’t control those things. They can control how careful they are with the injuries to Drummond and Knight and they can control how many minutes they give to their untested young end-of-the-bench players down the stretch of the season. Those two things won’t necessarily lead to more losses, but if they do, it gives the Pistons one more asset at their disposal to add an impact player to a roster that has shown it desperately needs a few more.