Detroit Pistons: The most difficult training camp battle to predict

Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns reacts against the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Head coach Monty Williams of the Phoenix Suns reacts against the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Pistons, James Wiseman
Detroit Pistons, James Wiseman. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sportsnty w /

Detroit Pistons: The case for and against James Wiseman

James Wiseman will be 22-years-old at the beginning of next season. He has career averages of 10.7 points and 5.9 rebounds on 53 percent from the field and 27 percent from 3-point range. He is on an expiring contract that will pay him $12.1 million.

The case for James Wiseman

Like MBIII, James Wiseman is a limited offensive player who can’t shoot from range and doesn’t protect the rim on defense. Also like MBIII, he’s way overpaid for his production and hasn’t been able to consistently stay healthy. But unlike Bagley III, Wiseman is still just 22-years-old and has only played 84 games in the NBA. Given that he barely played in college, this is a guy who has only begun to develop and scratch the surface of his talent. He’s the more athletic of the two, is a better ball handler and rim runner. He too had a nice stretch for the Detroit Pistons later in the season where he scored in double digits in 11 of 12 games, racking up double-doubles in five of them. He has more upside than Bagley III and there is hope that he can still make a leap on both ends.

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The case against James Wiseman

“Hope in one hand, s*** in the other, see which gets full first,” a saying my dad loves. Hope is the biggest selling point of Wiseman, who has barely played more games in three seasons than Jalen Duren played last year. What we have seen is a player who is hopelessly lost on defense, who is a bit of a black hole on offense who tries to back his man down and holds the ball a lot and who, like MBIII, hasn’t proven he can stay on the floor. There’s also the fact he’s on an expiring deal, so if he doesn’t perform for the Detroit Pistons, they may just have to let him walk for nothing, as it’s not likely other teams are going to give up much for him in a trade. Wiseman has to forget about the past and forget that he was once the #2 pick, as none of that matters now. What does matter is his improvement on the defensive end and as a passer in Monty Williams’ offense, which relies on bigs being able to move the ball and initiate offense. Bagley III has at least shown he can do one thing very well (score inside) while Wiseman has yet to develop any type of go-to skill.

These two players are very similar, making the same amount of money and both have plenty to prove. Hope and enticing talent generally win out in the NBA, so I expect the Pistons to prioritize Wiseman, who has a little more of both. But MBIII isn’t going to hit the bench without a fight, and if he can stay healthy, may provide more certainty for coach Monty Williams.

It may just come down to which of them can stay healthy and on the floor, because otherwise this battle is very difficult to predict.

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