NBA Trade Deadline: What it means for the Detroit Pistons and the tank

Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports /

Yesterday’s trade deadline made it very clear that the Detroit Pistons are faced with a difficult choice. The Orlando Magic are poised to have the worst end to a season we have ever seen. They have 28 games left to play, and they very well could lose all of them. Franchise centerpieces Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic are off to Denver and Chicago, and they have no talent left.

In the Eastern Conference, both the Wizards and Cavaliers are ahead of Detroit in the standings, but both teams are more than capable of a late-season skid.

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Out west, the Timberwolves are woefully bad and poised to have a high lottery bid, and the Rockets are in the middle of the worst basketball performance I have ever seen. Even the Thunder, Kings, and Pelicans could all collapse at some point this season.

The Detroit Pistons could very well end up outside the top five in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Fortunately, there isn’t just one standout in this year’s draft. Yes, Cade Cunningham will probably go first overall, but after that, there are plenty of good options. The Pistons’ record at this point in the season allows them to keep playing the way they have, vie for a good pick but also set themselves up for a promising future.

Detroit Pistons: Play for the present and future

Killian Hayes only played in seven games before he went out with a hip injury, but his return is approaching. While there is no rush for his return, playing with two point guards on the floor at the same time will present Detroit with the opportunity to develop Hayes, Dennis Smith Jr and Saben Lee all at the same time.

While that strategy probably won’t win many games for them this year, it will allow them to enter the 2021 offseason with some guard trade assets who have begun to prove themselves, or young players with some experience to build around going forward.

The rest of this season should be used to improve the roster the Detroit Pistons have, instead of trying to get a better draft pick. When it comes to playing poorly, I’m not convinced they can play worse than the new Magic team, or Houston, and there are a lot of wildcards to consider too.

This team won’t be able to even come close to making the playoffs, but it’s time for them to focus on what they have rather than what they want. The tank should be over, and a true rebuild should begin.

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