Comparing NBA rebuilds: Are the Detroit Pistons close to an all-in move?

Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls
Detroit Pistons v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Detroit Pistons' Route

And that brings us to Detroit. The Pistons didn’t do themselves any favors setting up for this rebuild. They really started with zero prime trade candidates. On top of that, for years, they had missed on draft picks, which left a lot to be desired in terms of developed, available assets. Detroit’s only true assets that could be moved were just Luke Kennard, Christian Wood, and eventually Jerami Grant. Those guys alone weren’t going to jumpstart a rebuild. This essentially meant the rebuild was off, but at a crawling pace. Detroit got what they could for who they had, and began taking on bad contracts to clear cap space. And honestly, they haven’t stopped since.

After the last regime had not hit in the draft for the better part of a decade, this front office started to get some lottery help. Detroit wound up with Cade Cunningham with the first overall pick in 2021. Surrounding Cade with other lottery picks became the only way forward for this team. After a few difficult years run by the likes of Cory Joseph, Hamidou Diallo, and Rodney McGruder, the core that Troy Weaver had put together began to look decent. While occasionally hitting in the draft, Weaver began making a few smaller moves in the form of acquiring guys like Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, both of who obviously were just flipped for picks and 3-and-D specialist Quentin Grimes. Based on how the other rebuilds were constructed, now would be the time to make the big move into contention. It’s alleged that this upcoming offseason will be the time they do so. 

Every situation is different, but Detroit is clearly the outlier in terms of rebuilding teams from 2019 that are still at the ground level. Two of the three other rebuilds followed the same path. Lay the groundwork by hitting in the draft while simultaneously cashing in on proven veterans and/or young potential that’s limited by roster logjam. Once the groundwork has been laid, they each have made the blockbuster move, trading multiple first round picks for the final piece of proven talent. So where did Detroit’s rebuild differ from the others? Again, you could say the Pistons’ rebuild is just behind and that their groundwork is now set with Cade, Ivey, Sasser, Thompson and Duren. That would mean the time is now to swing for the fences and go all in. 

You could also say that groundwork is nowhere near good enough to make the blockbuster trade. Either way, Weaver and the front office needs to take a step back, evaluate, and find where to go. The Pistons are now at a fork in the rebuild. Go all in lead by super star in the making Cade Cunningham, or start over with new people in charge. Comparatively to the other rebuilds, time is almost up for Detroit.