What will the Detroit Pistons look like in 2018?

Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Luke Kennard (Duke) is introduced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number twelve overall pick to the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 22, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Luke Kennard (Duke) is introduced by NBA commissioner Adam Silver as the number twelve overall pick to the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

We take a look at the Detroit Pistons roster going forward, and examine how things look if Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is re-signed, and if he isn’t.

The Detroit Pistons drafted a heck of a shooter in Luke Kennard, shooting guard out of Duke. The Pistons were 28th in three-point shooting last year and had the 27th-best effective field goal percentage in the NBA. Consider that last season they drafted Marquette’s Henry Ellenson in the hopes that he can develop into an NBA-quality shooter and you can see the vision Stan Van Gundy has.

It may not be the typical “four out-one in” system he ran with the Orlando Magic, but if he stacks shooters around Andre Drummond there could be real success. I’ve covered previously how Drummond is better suited not being the focal point of an offense. But if Reggie Jackson returns from his right knee tendinitis healthy, this team could see an uptick.

Drummond should post up far less in the half court if they are again running the pick and roll heavy offense. Undeniably, when it’s effective the Pistons pick and roll leaves shooters open, and anything that lowers the number of post ups Drummond takes is a good thing. They need to make those outside shots this year, and these youngsters could help that.

Related Story: The Pistons trade Darrun Hilliard

There are other questions plaguing the roster though besides Jackson’s knee, the young players’ shooting and Drummond’s lack of post game.

One of the biggest of these issues is the Pistons’ payroll. This team is expensive. They had the ninth-highest payroll in the NBA but failed to make the playoffs last season. Next year doesn’t project as much better with starting shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope being a restricted free agent, and likely highly sought for that matter.

If the Pistons pay him the $20+ million he’s reportedly seeking, that would put them over $90 million for the quintet of Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer and Drummond.


More from PistonPowered

Unfortanately there is no easy solution to the problem. KCP is one of the most dynamic young guards in the NBA. Before his shoulder injury last year year he was putting up career-best numbers. After returning from that injury, he sunk to much lesser level on both ends of the court. Still, he’s one of the more sought after free agent shooting guards this summer.

The Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly looking to sign J.J. Reddick, so that could bode well for the Pistons. However KCP, Reddick and Dion Waiters will likely be the most sought after shooting guards this offseason. Even though KCP is a favorite to sign with the Pistons, it’ll likely be at a higher number than they hope.

So is $90 million too much for those five players who’ve not proven much as they say? Probably.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time discussing each player’s individual struggles. They are well documented by this point. But this is a flawed roster even if it’s talented.


The team has its young players on team options and/or qualifying offers. I expect we’ll see Stanley Johnson, Ellenson and Michael Gbinije again next year. Reggie Bullock will likely not be with the team as he’s a pending restricted free agent and has to start the year serving a five-game suspension for breaking the league’s drug policies.

Now as far as KCP goes, they can sign him AFTER they sign suitable free agents with the mid-level exception and bi-annual exception, and players on veteran’s minimum contracts. That will put them over the cap and dangerously close to the luxury tax, which most owners would want to avoid. Especially given the current breakdown and success of this roster.


Now if they don’t pay KCP, it gets more tricky. They still need to fill out the roster that has only nine or ten active players, but will still have little money to do so. Because they can sign players FIRST and then resign Caldwell-Pope some may think that’s the way to go. By choosing not to sign KCP the Pistons will be essentially letting him walk for nothing and replacing him with a shooting guard signed with the MLE, like C.J. Miles. There will still be no big name free agents to sign. There’s still no money.

The roster breakdown without kcp is roughly (in my eyes) as follows…

Point guard: Jackson/Ish Smith

Shooting guard: MLE free agent/Kennard/ Stanley Johnson 

Small forward: Tobias Harris/Johnson

This is where is gets iffy to me as we at Piston Powered differ on this…

Power forward: Marcus Morris/Leuer/Ellenson (my preferred order)

Center: Drummond/Boban Marjanovic/Leuer

That is not an NBA competitive roster. No all stars. No MVP candidates and most importantly, the Pistons are one of a small handful of NBA teams without a top-five pick on the roster. Let that sink in. It doesn’t bode well.

Next: How Luke Kennard compares to Thompson and Booker

We all have our favorite players and KCP is honestly one of mine. But I think due to the poor league view on Jackson and Drummond’s contracts, and their immovable nature, I don’t see KCP in a Detroit Pistons jersey in 2018. It’s my feeling the team will opt to not be locked into last year’s roster for years to come. Especially if young Kennard comes out lighting it up and Ellenson and Johnson take a step forward. We could see more players than just KCP on a different team.