Feb 5, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Detroit Pistons power forward Greg Monroe (10) looks up against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Monroe could impact whether Pistons are among most improved or most declined teams

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton assessed the expected improvement or decline of each NBA team based on WARP values of free agency acquisitions and losses:

27. Detroit Pistons | minus-5.1 WARP

Key additions: D.J. Augustin, Caron ButlerJodie Meeks
Key losses: Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey

While Stan Van Gundy’s first offseason at the helm of the Pistons has produced curious contracts for veterans such as Butler (making $4.5 million for minus-1.1 projected WARP), Detroit hasn’t actually declined, provided that Monroe returns (a near-certainty barring a sign-and-trade). Adding his 7.6 projection would put the Pistons near the top of the rankings.

Obviously, this analysis leaves something to be desired as it ignores new rookies (a clear weakness for Detroit) and fit. But what it does tell us is that, in a vacuum, the players the Pistons have added are somewhat better than the players the Pistons lost. But also that Greg Monroe single-handedly matters a lot more that all those other bit pieces combined.

I could spin that as a positive offseason provided Monroe does stay in Detroit. But that’s kinda disappointing for about $15M/season worth of signings. On the plus side, the Pistons really have nowhere to go but up in terms of fit and maximally using what talent they have. Additionally, there are a lot more players on the team liable to improve than there are candidates to decline.

But the road back to respectability for Detroit is liable to be a tough one, especially if they lose Monroe without getting a comparable player back.

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