Eric Moreland’s 2017-18 season outlook

ORLANDO, FL - JULY 5: Eric Moreland
ORLANDO, FL - JULY 5: Eric Moreland /

In our series of season outlooks for the players on the 2017-18 Detroit Pistons roster, we’ll run through expectations for each. First up is Eric Moreland.

Summer League is a mere formality for most players. The elites are the lottery picks from that year’s draft and breakout stars coming off rookie campaigns. Their main goal is to look good, polish their craft and work on the rough edges. Some players are there to fill out rosters. Still others are there to fight for their lives and they play that way.

For Eric Moreland, this was his fight.

The 25-year-old center came into this Orlando Summer League with the Detroit Pistons off two seasons in which he played a total of 50 NBA minutes in 11 games with the Sacramento Kings. The bulk of his season a year ago was played with the Canton Charge of the NBA D-League (now the G League) where he played 44 games.

Moreland averaged 12.8 points in just over 33 minutes per game and was a force on the boards with 12.2 rebounds per game.

He was exceptional in the Orlando Summer League, to the point where he forced the Pistons to stay in-house in their search for a third center. Moreland averaged 7.6 points and 8.4 rebounds, and added a stellar 2.8 blocks in 26 minutes per game, and he earned a three-year partially guaranteed contract worth about $5.5 million.

Moreland will fill the Pistons’ need as third center behind Andre Drummond and Boban Marjanovic. Last season Marjanovic was the third-stringer behind Drummond and Aron Baynes, but Baynes’ exit via free agency will bump him up the depth chart.

Marjanovic is a rare talent on the offensive end, but he is immobile defensively, a fact which kept him off the floor for most of last season. His minutes will take a big jump this season by default, but Moreland will likely see more action in his role than Boban did a season ago due to those defensive concerns.

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Moreland will probably see expanded situational defensive minutes unless Boban has significantly improved defensively this offseason.

Moreland does have his own fatal flaw: Free throws. On a Pistons’ team with the worst free throw shooter in NBA history in Andre Drummond, they have added perhaps the only player worse. In Moreland’s D-League career, he hit just 36.9 percent of his 236 free throws.

This represented a huge drop from his college numbers where he hit 53.1 percent of 294 free throws, so at least the Pistons know he is capable of hitting at a higher clip. He also showed some promise at summer league, where he hit 10 of his 13 free throws for a 76.9 percent clip. By way of comparison, Andre Drummond didn’t have a 13 free throw stretch last season in which he hit 10.

Moreland will be playing for his job every time he hits the floor for the Pistons. While his first year salary is worth $1.7 million, it’s only guaranteed for $500,000 until September 5th, then guaranteed for $750,000 until the season opener, and does not become fully guaranteed until January 10th of 2018.

In 2018-19, his contract his no more secure. His $1.826 million salary is unguaranteed until July 8th, 2018, then guaranteed for $750,000 until September 1st, guaranteed for $1 million until the season opener and only guaranteed for $1.25 million until January 10th, 2019.

Next: Why the Pistons should rest Reggie Jackson

Moreland fills a need and is a promising talent, but in essence, he can be let go at any time by the Detroit Pistons for a discount off his full contract. It doesn’t lend itself much in the way of security, but from a financial perspective it’s going to beat playing next season in the G League or elsewhere outside the NBA.