The Detroit Pistons added depth to their roster in the offseason, trading for Alec Burks and Nerlens Noel by taking advantage of a desperate Knicks team looking to shed cap space.
They re-signed Marvin Bagley lll, locking him in on a three year deal immediately when free agency started. After free agency simmered down they quietly snagged Kevin Knox on a team friendly deal.
Detroit Pistons: Strengths and weaknesses of the bench
This bench could be much improved and ready to contribute to wins. Last season the Pistons bench averaged 38.9 points per game. That ranked them in a tie for sixth best in the league with the Memphis Grizzlies. They also ranked second in free throw attempts with nine a game, only behind the Houston Rockets. Scoring off the bench wasn’t an issue, so the added talent should only bolster productivity.
Defensively is where the bench has the most room for improvements, as they ranked ninth worst in the league with a 114.6 defensive rating. The defense should be more cohesive with a full offseason to prepare, not to mention Isaiah Livers in the lineup full time. Rim protection should have been addressed too with this newly constructed roster. That’s something that was a glaring weakness, no matter who got minutes off the bench last season. Guys were in and out of the lineup due to a variety of reasons, this year roles will be more defined.
What the new guys bring to the bench
The Pistons were able to generate three’s from their offense. Their bench shot the tenth most getting up fourteen shots a game. The issue was they ranked dead last in percentage, shooting a inexcusable 30.6 percent. This is where a player like Burks should thrive, being the beneficiary of that type of shot creation.
Alec Burks make defenses pay, last season he shot close to five attempts per game and hit over 40 percent of them. He’s one of the best players in the league operating on the left side of the floor and can create his own in that space if needed. Burks is exactly what the Pistons needed, a sharpshooter to strengthen the bench brigade.
His numbers will likely increase playing alongside Killian Hayes in the second unit. Hayes will look to feed Burks early and often in the half court. He managed to generate baskets with G-League talent late last season. Having adequate players will help him rack up assists with ease, after the team rank fifth in assists last year with lesser talent. Burks is a quality option next to Hayes and could have one of his best seasons scoring next to a natural facilitator.
Nerlens Noel only played twenty-five games starting in eleven last season due to injury. He finished the season with 3.4 points 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks under the defensive minded head coach Tom Thibedou. He’s a zero tolerance coach who expects his guys to defend. Noel will bring that energy along with him to the Detroit Pistons.
The former Kentucky Wildcat is healthy and ready to get back on the court. There are several areas he can contribute for his new team to impact winning. His 1.2 blocks in only twenty-two minutes of action would have led all Pistons last season. Protecting the rim will be vital, and could catapult this bench to one of the best in the league. Defense was one of the Detroit Pistons’ biggest weaknesses. Noel is a solid veteran who will do his part to turn that around.
Don’t let the numbers fool you, he can score in the right situations. He can catch lobs off pick and roll action, and clean up missed shots. Although his rebound numbers don’t jump off the page he’s a solid offensive rebounder who averaged two a game last year. That would have put him second behind Isaiah Stewart’s 3.2 on this Detroit Pistons team. Expect him to get back up minute unless rookie Jalen Duren is ready to contribute immediately.
Detroit Pistons: A top bench in the league
This Pistons’ bench has all the makings to be really good next year. Once Killian Hayes took over the point guard duties they started to build chemistry. Now with better talent in place it should fix their shooting woes. Livers and Burks both can knock down shots off the bench. The Detroit Pistons were already a handful scoring, and now you’ll have to defend the three ball.
Livers provides much more than just shooting. His ability to defend multiple positions will be most important to the team’s success. This bench has the potential to be one of the best in the league, scoring in bunches, while stifling opponents defensively. Bringing Noel into the fold allows those on the perimeter to funnel players into the help. Noel can anchor the second unit making the defense more difficult to overcome.
On most nights the advantage should be with the Pistons reserves. They have all the pieces to operate successfully, and the results should show it. They were explosive offensively last year and fine tuning the defense could give opponents fits.