The Detroit Pistons clearly made defense a priority in the draft when they selected Ausar Thompson with the 5th pick and then traded up to get Marcus Sasser, who is also a good defender.
Detroit had the worst defensive rating in franchise history last season, so obviously getting back to playing Pistons-style basketball will be necessary if they want to enjoy the success of past teams for whom defense was a calling card.
Adding Thompson will help, but Detroit still has some objectively bad defenders on the roster, including Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Harris, so may look to add another defender to fill their final roster spot.
Detroit Pistons: Potential low-cost defender for the final roster spot
One possibility is forward Lamar Stevens, who was recently waived by the San Antonio Spurs.
The 26-year-old has played three years in the league, and averaged 5.3 points, 3.3 rebounds in 62 games for the Cavaliers this past season. So Stevens played 18 minutes per game on the number one ranked defense in the league last season.
Steven’s numbers don’t really do justice to what he can bring to a team, as he is a tenacious defender with a “junkyard dog” mentality that some Cavaliers’ fans credit with helping change the culture in Cleveland.
He’s a strong, 6-foot-6 forward who can defend either spot, so would give the Detroit Pistons some additional toughness and defensive versatility off the bench. He’s not a good shooter, and doesn’t take a ton of shots, but Stevens is one of those guys who makes winning plays with hustle and defense.
He’d raise the overall level of competition in practices, push the Detroit scorers to be better and offer some insurance in case of a trade or injury. Stevens also worked on a league-minimum deal last season, so he’s a guy who could fill that final roster spot for cheap while actually providing some value.
I’d rather see another defensive forward (a position of need for Detroit) then to once again use a roster spot on a guy like Rodney McGruder (no offense to Rodney) who brings little other than veteran mentorship.