The Detroit Pistons brought in forward Braxton Key at the end of last season, and he did well. So why is he on a two-way contract, which means most of his time will be spent in the G-League?
Braxton Key was a G-League star when the Pistons signed him to a series of 10-day contracts at the end of the season. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward played in nine games and posted a respectable 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds at a time when most of Detroit’s top players were inactive due to … you know. … it rhymes with bank.
While the Pistons were just playing out the string, they did not move Key to their G-League team, the Motor City Cruise, which were active in the playoffs. Ironically, the Cruise were eliminated by the Delaware Blue Coats, the team that Key had played with before heading to the NBA.
At his size, Key can play both forward positions and even be a small-ball center (not that Detroit needs centers at the moment). He also has a decent outside shot, which few other Pistons can claim.
So after the season, the Pistons had to make a decision on Key, who was now a free agent. Bring him back? Let him go? They sort of split the difference:
Key has signed a two-way contract with Detroit. What that means (in non-pandemic years), is that Key is committed to the Cruise, but there are a certain amount of days he can also play for the Pistons in NBA games.
It’s better than a 10-day contract, and certainly an improvement on a straight G-League salary, which is what Key was on when the Pistons picked him up last season.
Key was only one of three players who played in all five of the Pistons’ summer league games in Las Vegas. He again did well, averaging 12.2 points, 6.2 points, 2.4 assists and 2.0 steals. He also shot a respectable 35.3-percent on three-pointers.
We also got to see Key’s adorable baby daughter Lennox. Aww.
Key is not one of those young pups that form most of the Pistons roster. He is 25, which, believe it or not, makes him the fifth oldest player on the roster (seven years older than Jalen Duren!), so Key is not some developmental project.
So what is the Detroit Pistons plan for Braxton Key?
Right now, Key is kinda, sorta a member of the Pistons. He does not need to play in the G-League to get additional seasoning, he made first team All-G-League last year based on his play with the Blue Coats. So what are general manager Troy Weaver and coach Dwane Casey contemplating about his future with the club?
Here are some possible key options (pun intended) they are most likely looking at for Key:
- The two-way is merely a placeholder to keep him in the program. Once there is an opening on the roster, he will be moved up.
- Key is being used as an insurance policy. If a Pistons player gets hurt or is simply playing so bad they need to get rid of him, Key can be brought up. He already knows the system and they know he will play solidly.
- They are still not sure if Key will be part of their future, and want him to bounce between the two teams while they evaluate his play.
- Hey, the Cruise need to sell tickets too! Key will help them be competitive.
Before training camp opens, there are a lot of questions, some that the Pistons might not be sure can be answered yet.
What happens with Braxton Key is one of the storylines to watch during the upcoming season.