Detroit Pistons: Fans need to better appreciate role players

Not just Detroit Pistons fans but basketball fans around the league too often feel the need to give up on players just because they lack “star value”.

A player is drafted by the Detroit Pistons, they don’t immediately score 20 points per game, and after a few seasons fans are ready to move on from them just because they don’t think they can be a long term piece for the team.

In these conversations, a point that’s seemingly always brought up is something to the effect of said player lacking the ability to be a top scoring option for their team. That they can’t lead the team to a championship.

So whether it’s trading them away or deciding to not extend them, fans are ready to move on from players after two or three seasons.

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This isn’t exclusive to Pistons fans though. Fans of every single team in the league have been guilty of this at one point or another.

While admittedly some other factors may come in to play, like the player just can’t seem to stay healthy or they’re just genuinely a poor fit for the team. Those things do happen and people will always have their justifications there.

However, it’s too often lost on people how significant any given players impact could be if they were just considered to be a role player.

For example, imagine if after the Boston Celtics drafted Marcus Smart and spent a few years expecting him to be the offensive weapon that he was in college, they decided to move on from him.

After all, he certainly wasn’t going to be the 18 points per game type of player that he was at Oklahoma State. Despite scoring 10.6 per game in his third season, he was far from that threshold.

You know what Boston did? They valued what he brought to the table on the defensive end and disregarded the fact that he wasn’t going to be a high value scoring option for them. He became a “glue guy” for the Celtics which holds as much significance as being the top player.

The result was Smart blossoming into one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. One of the fiercest competitors in the game, and one of the best role players in the NBA.

So with the Pistons, although you may be concerned with Luke Kennard‘s ability to stay healthy, the impact that he brings to the table for their offense shouldn’t even be a question. His play making abilities are quickly getting better, his offensive versatility is rising, and his perimeter shot is his staple.

Defensively he could improve, but at the end of the day it’s okay if you don’t view him as a top dog on a future Piston team. That doesn’t mean Detroit should cut ties with him. Every team in the league needs at least one three-point specialist, and for the Pistons that player should be Kennard.

If other issues arrive then it could be a different discussion, but as it stands the organization should be motivated to pursue a contract extension with him next season.

This principle can be applied to a few other players, but let’s look at Bruce Brown.

A player who in all likelihood will never be a top-three scorer for any team. He lacks offensive consistency and although he improved this season, his scoring isn’t what he’s going to be known for.

Brown’s impact as a facilitator and as a defender for Detroit is noticeable even if you just watch for a single quarter. His play making (when he’s given the chance to play point guard) seems so effortless and his ability to lock down some of the biggest offensive threats in the game is tremendous.

He’s another “glue guy” that any team would want to have. It goes without say that people aren’t expecting him to ever be the guy for the Pistons, but he can still be an important piece for whatever team that do end up assembling.

If Detroit does decide to move on from these two, they’ll probably have good reason to do so. But as it stands, there’s still plenty of reason to roll the dice on a second contract when the time comes.

It’s what helped make the 2004 Pistons so memorable. Nobody on that team was a superstar. It was a team of players who all executed their roles really well.

Now that’s not to say that Detroit is anywhere close to contending because they’re not, but the principle applies. Giving up on players just because they lack star talent is foolish.

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