Detroit Pistons media day: Christian Wood appears to be odd man out

Detroit Pistons Christian Wood. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Christian Wood. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

One of the most interesting Detroit Pistons storylines is who will make the 15-man roster. Christian Wood appears out and Joe Johnson in.

Detroit Pistons training camp hasn’t opened up yet and it already appears they’ve made a roster decision.

Reading the tea leaves, Christian Wood doesn’t seem to have a spot in the Pistons rotations or reserves from comments made on media day and media reports.

On Sunday, the Detroit Free Press’ Vince Ellis reported that Joe Johnson will make the roster and Wood is out, though he didn’t rule out other possibilities that both could make the final roster. It derives from recent comments from Pistons coach Dwane Casey.

"“The need is there, but we also have a need for that veteran play like a Joe Johnson who can put the ball on the floor, still make plays, still shoot the ball,” Casey said. “He has it, even at (age 38).“He’s not a 40-minute player anymore, but we don’t need 40 minutes. We need that experience, a guy like that you can bring in at the end of games to close games.”"

During Monday’s media day festivities, Johnson mentioned he had four other workouts lined up after a workout in Detroit. He ultimately cancelled those and signed with the Pistons. There’s an obvious need at the small forward position, which could lead to playing time and a rotational role for Johnson, an attractive option.

Related Story. 3 goals for Joe Johnson in 2019-20. light

Markieff Morris had an eventful press conference, including stating that he sees himself as a center. That’s one of the Pistons weaknesses, which includes the primary reason for Wood to be in consideration for a roster spot. Though the possibility that Wood and Morris could co-exist off the bench isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

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Wood, 24, is a face-up big man that is 13-for-42 (31 percent) from 3-point range. He thrives on his athletic ability to run to the rim and get by players with slower lateral quickness. With Morris as a physical five, who said his mentor is Rasheed Wallace, it works well with the two alongside each other.

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That could also leave an opening for Thon Maker, the lengthy 7-foot-1 big that also shoots it on the perimeter, to the tune of 32.6 percent. He’s had a full offseason in Casey’s system to gain strength and with more NBA experience.

Related Story. 3 goals for Thon Maker in 2019-20. light

The allure of Wood is his minimal experience in the NBA, having played 51 games and averaging 9.9 minutes per contest. His most recent eight-game stint with the Pelicans saw him get 23.6 minutes per game and he thrived, averaging 16.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.

His dominance in the G-League proves that he’s above that level of competition and ready for the NBA. But having been on four teams with playing time in three seasons, his opportunities have been limited.

Pistons Senior Advisor Ed Stefanski was open about the value of Johnson’s leadership.

"“Joe has all the traits you need to be a professional,” he said. “That doesn’t hurt our team to have that.”More from PistonPoweredWhich Detroit Pistons could save Team USA in the Olympics?Detroit Pistons could have major roster churn after 2023-24 seasonThe best Detroit Pistons to wear each uniform numberFull Detroit Pistons NBA 2K24 ratingsDetroit Pistons: Who will sign the remaining NBA free agents?"

As has been analyzed well on Piston Powered, there’s the possibility that Johnson and Wood could make the roster, which Stefanski seems open to.

"“Right now, that’s what most people would look at (Johnson or Wood) … but there could be other options as preseason goes on,” he said."

It seems as though the cards are stacked against Wood before camp begins but there is a way for him out of it and on to the roster.

If he and Johnson were to make the roster, the Pistons could look to the two-guard position for their cut or trade. Khyri Thomas figures to be the odd man out in this scenario. Though marked with potential, Thomas struggled during his rookie season. With Langston Galloway‘s expiring $7 million contract, his value will reach its fullest potential as the trade deadline nears.

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Wood’s guarantee date is the season opener on Oct. 23. In three weeks Detroit’s decision will be finalized.