Sitting at 28th in the NBA standings entering the final stretch of the 2020-2021 season, the season has been rough for the Detroit Pistons.
While this adds onto the shame for Detroit sports fans, let’s face it: They are used to it. The Pistons have not been true championship contenders since the 2007-2008 Since then, they have only made the playoffs three times and have accrued 10 losing seasons.
Having been considered a mediocre team for the last few decades, many people wondered if the franchise would ever consider starting over from scratch. This idea has now become a reality with the hiring of new front office leadership and a seeming philosophy change around the town.
The man in charge of the Motown remodel is former Oklahoma City General Manager, Troy Weaver. During his time with the Thunder, the former “GM” was a key part in building up a team considered to be one of the best of the decade. As the assistant general manager for over 10 seasons, Weaver was part of the scouting and player personnel department during the team’s magical postseason stretch from 2009-2014.
Weaver helped draft and assemble one of the best starting lineups in the 21st century by drafting future league MVP Russell Westbrook, future NBA champion Serge Ibaka, sixth man of the year James Harden, trading for All-Defensive honoree Thabo Sefolosha as well as experienced veteran Kendrick Perkins, and not trading future 11-time All Star Kevin Durant.
While Weaver had not been in the driver’s seat as “GM” until his time with Detroit, he wasted no time in plastering his vision to Detroit fans.
By using aggressive approaches in free agency, the draft, and the trade deadline, the fan-nicknamed “Grim Weaver” has the Pistons now look completely different than they did a year ago.
NEW YOUNG TEAM
The doors opened for new free agents and trade targets looking for a fresh start. One of those was former Nuggets forward Jerami Grant, who turned down a similar contract from playoff bound Denver for the opportunity to improve and play for black leaders, like Weaver and head coach Dwayne Casey.
Grant was not the only one to leave the mountains for Motown as his teammate, center Mason Plumlee, also signed a three-year contract with Detroit.
Many other players decided to follow suit to the Motor City, like hometown hero Josh Jackson, former Pelican Jahlil Okafor, and 2018 Piston Wayne Ellington. While these free agents improved the team, they did not seem to make Pistons fans as excited as the drafted rookies.
Thanks to trade maneuvers, Weaver found himself with three first-round picks and a second-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. These selections brought in French point guard Killian Hayes, rebounding machine Isaiah Stewart, shooting specialist Saddiq Bey, and two-way flyer Saben Lee. During this season, all four rookies found themselves in the starting five throughout parts of the season.
Although these fan-favorited rookies are making the Pistons more fun to watch, it has not quite resulted in wins. The Pistons are currently on pace for the worst single season record since 1994. While this can be rough on Detroit fans, there are some things to expect going into the final stretch of this season and the offseason.
THREE THINGS TO EXPECT
1. Starters “sitting”
With the end of the season approaching, the organization is looking at the future. This will bring more opportunity for management and coaches to evaluate the younger and less experienced players. Players like Grant and Plumlee will likely have a decrease in minutes for second and third string players like Hamidou Diallo, Frank Jackson, and Tyler Cook.
2. A plethora of transactions
If the first offseason is a sign of Weaver’s aggressiveness, the upcoming offseason can become even more “wild.” This means more trades, signings, and emphasis on the player market than ever before. With many of Weavers transactions, players that are acquired from a trade are not excluded from being packaged in another. This along with the Pistons having a chance for obtaining one of the top picks in the draft will make have the trade possibilities endless this offseason.
3. A vision for the future
This season has been tough on fans, but there is reason to have hope. Weaver has been in this situation. In his first season in “OKC” in 2009, the Thunder accrued a similar record of 23-59. The next season with Weaver in the front office? 50 wins and a playoff berth. He knows the formula and is ready to execute it in Detroit.