What the hiring of J.B. Bickerstaff means for the Pistons in free agency

Detroit Pistons v Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

The Detroit Pistons checked another item off their offseason to-do list by hiring JB Bickerstaff to be their next head coach. 

As you would expect, initial reactions to the hire have been a mixed bag from fans, some who like his track record, others who don’t. 

I’ll have more to say about Bickerstaff in the coming days, but at first glance he’s a guy who has recent experience making a bad team a good one. You can argue about his playoff success but the Pistons are far from worrying about that. 

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He won 51 and 48 games the last two seasons with a flawed Cleveland team, numbers that sound like a pipe dream to Pistons fans who are off the worst season in team history. 

I’ll reserve my judgement for now 

Free agency starts in a few hours and you have to wonder if Bickerstaff will have any influence.  

Detroit Pistons free agency and JB Bickerstaff 

The first name that immediately pops to mind is restricted free agent Isaac Okoro. Coach Bickerstaff has raved about him as an underrated player who impacts winning. 

Bickerstaff and Okoro were part of one of the league’s best defenses last season and you have to wonder if that was part of the reason Bickerstaff ended up in Detroit. 

With Ron Holland and Ausar Thompson on board, the Pistons have two good defenders who can’t shoot, a problem that Bickerstaff was able to overcome in Cleveland, where spacing around Donovan Mitchell was an issue. 

Okoro isn’t a clear fit with those guys already on the roster, but he’s a solid and versatile defender whose 3-point shot has improved over time. 

The Pistons don’t have an immediate need for another wing, but can you really have too many? Bickerstaff has had success building a defense around rim protectors and versatile defenders. 

Hopefully, the Pistons will supply Bickerstaff with a rim protector in free agency or trade, and armed with that and a group of versatile defenders who get after it on the wing, the Pistons may at least see a big leap on that side of the court.