The Detroit Pistons have been mired in a constant rebuild ever since their surprise postseason appearance in 2019. They finished last season with a 23-59 record, and try as they might, the Pistons will just be outgunned every night by almost every NBA team. Despite the addition of veteran sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic, the Pistons appear destined for the bottom of the standings yet again.
The Pistons’ rise from the dregs of the NBA will hinge on the development of Cade Cunningham. A future star, the 6’6 point guard showed his promise after he averaged 21.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.5 assists after the 2022 All-Star break. However, as seen in his preseason debut against the New York Knicks, he still has troubles with shooting efficiency and with protecting the ball.
Cunningham finished the game shooting 3-12 from the field for seven points, in addition to a disappointing four turnovers.
Barring an unexpectedly great rookie season from 2022 5th overall pick Jaden Ivey, Cunningham’s supporting cast doesn’t inspire much confidence. Saddiq Bey has shown flashes of being a consistent shooter, but, 50-point explosion aside, he isn’t the most reliable offensive option. Isaiah Stewart failed to build on a solid rookie year, while Marvin Bagley III has battled inconsistencies as well throughout his career.
The Pistons also suffer from the fatal roster flaw of poor three-point shooting. They shot the second-worst percentage in the entire league last season, shooting a putrid 32.6%, which was only better than the Oklahoma City Thunder’s mark. The addition of Bogdanovic should help in that regard, while Cunningham and Bey should benefit from more spacing alongside the Croatian sharpshooter, but clearly, the Pistons will have more growing pains in the upcoming season.
Thus, it’s likely for the Pistons to ship out veterans in search of sharpshooters who can contribute to their cause. Here are two potential trade candidates for the Pistons as they continue their preseason campaign.
The Pistons could use the spacing Kemba Walker can provide, as he shot a respectable 36.7% from deep last season (2.0/5.4 per game). However, the Pistons’ backcourt is loaded, with Cunningham, Ivey, Cory Joseph, and Killian Hayes in front of the veteran in the depth chart.
The Pistons acquired the former All-Star from the Knicks during draft night, and they were rewarded with center prospect Jalen Duren for their troubles after a season of struggles for the 6’0 guard. It has been quite the fall from grace for Walker, who made the All-Star team as recently as 2020.
The Knicks had high hopes for Walker last season. His addition was seen as a huge upgrade for New York as they sought to build off their surprise 2021 playoff run. However, Walker was clearly still hampered by his knee injury history. He struggled shooting the ball, and just wasn’t a fit with Tom Thibodeau’s system that prioritized defense and toughness.
The four-time All-Star then lost his starting job to (now fellow Pistons player) Alec Burks before he and the Knicks mutually agreed on a shutdown later in the season.
Is Kemba Walker completely washed up? No one can say for sure. The Pistons will hope that, despite being shopped all offseason long, a team would bite on the chance to facilitate a Walker revival before making the decision to buy him out.
Yet another spare part acquired from the Knicks, Nerlens Noel, when healthy, has proven himself to be one of the more ferocious rim protectors in the NBA. For his career, Noel has averaged an impressive 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game. However, his availability is a huge question mark, especially after he played in only 25 games last season.
Noel could provide the Pistons with a different element than that of their other big men. Bagley is a more scoring-inclined player while Stewart isn’t the most intimidating presence at the rim. Duren has a chance to be as good of a shot-blocker as Noel, but it’s difficult to expect too much out of a raw 18-year old big man in his rookie season.
However, teams in need of frontcourt depth could certainly take a flier on Nerlens Noel to shore up their defense. The Phoenix Suns come to mind as a team in need of a shot-blocking presence following the departure of JaVale McGee. Perhaps the Pistons can squeeze themselves into the inevitable Jae Crowder trade that’s been on the docket for weeks.
All stats were taken from Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted.