Detroit Pistons: Dennis Smith Jr. trying to be the next rehab project

Dennis Smith Jr. could be a player for the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Dennis Smith Jr. could be a player for the Detroit Pistons. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons have had recent success finding undervalued players who have then revitalized their careers in Detroit.

The Pistons are hoping that Dennis Smith Jr. can be the next in what has become a trend in Detroit.

It started with Christian Wood, an unearthed gem who had bounced around and been cut by several teams before finally finding a home in Detroit.

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Wood’s numbers went way up with increased minutes. His scoring from 8.2 to 13.1, his defense and rebounding improved and he got himself a fat contract for his efforts.

Wood is now a key part of the Rockets’ future, averaging 22 points and 10.2 rebounds and will be Jerami Grant‘s biggest competition for Most Improved Player.

Wood was the beginning of a trend that Dennis Smith Jr. hopes to continue. Let’s take a look at the other recent Pistons’ rehab projects.

Detroit Pistons: Jerami Grant is the NBA’s Most Improved Player

No one has benefitted from a move to the Motor City more than Jerami Grant, who went from role player to star since joining Detroit.

Grant has doubled his scoring average since coming to the Pistons, while also improving his passing, rebounding and 3-point shooting.

Troy Weaver took a risk that there was more to Grant than he was showing in Denver and he was right.

Detroit Pistons: Josh Jackson has been one of the best finds of the offseason

Josh Jackson’s career had been on a downward trajectory since being drafted 4th overall by the Phoenix Suns.

It looked like he might be out of the league after not playing much for Memphis, so some people were skeptical when Detroit took another calculated risk on talent.

Since joining the Pistons, Jackson is getting more minutes and has improved in nearly every statistical category, evolving into the Pistons’ most important bench player in the process.

The Detroit Pistons are getting the most out of their role players

It’s not all about Grant and Jackson, as the Pistons’ have gotten more from role players who have improved greatly since coming to Detroit.

Mason Plumlee and Delon Wright are both having the best seasons of their careers and look like they might be trade assets for Detroit in the future.

Wayne Ellington has emerged as one of the best 3-point shooters in the league, going from roster filler to a guy who will probably net an asset at the deadline.

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Part of this is that the players have had an expanded role with Detroit but the other part is that Troy Weaver has an eye for untapped talent.

Could Dennis Smith Jr. be next?

Detroit Pistons: Dennis Smith Jr.’s career numbers

If you looked at Smith Jr.’s early-career stats, he looked like one of the top prospects from his draft class.

He averaged over 15 points and five assists as a rookie, making the 2nd-team All-Rookie squad and looking like the point guard of the future for the Mavericks.

He was then traded as part of a package for Kristaps Porzingis and his numbers have plummeted ever since.

It’s possible, just possible, that the Knicks aren’t that great at developing talent. It’s possible.

The Knicks essentially ruined Dennis Smith Jr. who will now be eager to prove he is still a player in this league.

If he can get back to his rookie numbers, the Detroit Pistons will have handily won the Derrick Rose trade.

Dennis Smith Jr. and the Detroit Pistons hope the trend of players finding new life in Detroit continues.

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