Aaron Shapo/January 8
What? How hard did you hit your head to think that?
Well, since I’ve been following the Pistons all decade, REALLY HARD.
This may sound absolutely ridiculous at first glance, but just hear me out on this. The Detroit Pistons are currently 14-24 this season, and 8-10 when Blake plays. Blake has been putting up career lows in points, rebounds and shooting percentages. Detroit was also clearly better when Christian Wood was on the floor instead of Blake throughout many of his 18 games. He also shot 6.2 three-point shots a game, at 24.3%. Blake never seemed fully healthy this season, and it showed clear as day. The rehabilitation is clearly necessary for him to resemble himself from last year in any way.
Over this year and the next two, Griffin has a massive contract worth more than $110 Million.
Griffin’s contract is going to be taking up a large part of Detroit’s salary cap until 2022. His injury puts the organization in a very difficult situation because they built this roster to win a few games in the playoffs.
That has been far from the case, however. Detroit has been struggling all season. Currently they are 14-24 with a ceiling of the 8th, or maybe even 7th seed if they can get a win streak. Their slow start to the season, mainly due to injuries, has caused many more to jump on the rebuilding train.
What may come as a surprise to many NBA fans is how much youth the Pistons have. In his short stint with Detroit so far, head coach, Dwayne Casey has acquired many young assets. Sharpshooting Luke Kennard was leftover from the Stan Van Gundry era.
Casey then drafted defensive talent, Bruce Brown 42nd and traded two second-round picks for Khyri Thomas in the 2018 draft.
At the trade deadline last year, Casey traded sharpshooter Reggie Bullock to the Lakers for a then rookie sharpshooter in Sviatoslav Mykhailuk and a future second-round pick.
In the 2019 draft, luck struck Detroit as young prospect Sekou Doumbouya fell to 15 where they nabbed him. They also drafted Deividas Sirvydis, who’s currently playing overseas, and Jordan Bone, who’s tearing it up in the G-league. They also signed undrafted Louis King to a Two-Way deal.
In the 2019 offseason, Detroit has another stroke of luck, picking 24 year-old Christian Wood up off of waivers. That’s a lot of young players, most of whom no one has heard much about, so it may come as a surprise that the Pistons are actually one of the youngest teams in the league.
By the way, for anyone who noticed, Thon Maker doesn’t count.
So, what does this have to do with Blake’s injury? Well, with Blake out, it means that Sekou Doumbouya, Christian Wood and even Bruce Brown are going to get more minutes. Before Griffin’s and Morris’s injuries, Sekou was reportedly about to be reassigned to Grand Rapids, but with the injuries, ended up starting against the Clippers. Doumbouya has started the three games since, putting up double figures in all four games against the likes of Kawhi, Draymond, LeBron, and Kevin Love. Had it not been for the Griffin injury, Doumbouya likely would be in Grand Rapids right now, instead of lighting up Twitter with his epic dunk.
As for Christian Wood, he will likely get consistent minutes at the four along with his minutes at the five. Against the Lakers, Christian Wood started against Anthony Davis where he held Davis to 12 points throughout the first three quarters. Wood has shown his potential all season, averaging a career-high 9.4 points per game on 58.2% shooting while slowly gaining more and more minutes in the rotation.
As for Brown, who is a 6’4 shooting guard, his extra minutes will come at the three position. Brown’s proven to be able to hold his own against taller defenders, and since Doumbouya is likely going to start at the four and Mykhailiuk is now starting at the two with Kennard out, Brown, who has been coming off the bench for a bit now, will be the only option on the bench to play the three without keeping someone in. Brown has shown great strides in his offensive game doubling his points per game from last year and increased his field goal percentage by 4%.
Obviously it is better to have a healthy Blake than an injured Blake, but this will accelerate the rebuilding process that looks like it has found a direction for the first time in a decade. Detroit has some serious young talent that could turn into something special in two or three years.