As this season goes, the Detroit Pistons were right around their expectations. Coming into the season with just a few players that had more than five years of NBA experience, the Pistons knew that they were going to be at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. However, the roster did have some good moments and most notably, Cade Cunningham had a great rookie campaign. As they look towards their future, the Pistons might look at the 2022 NBA free agency as well to get some new pieces. Let’s look at three early targets for the Pistons in 2022 NBA free agency.
Early Pistons free agent targets
This might be a longshot as Bamba is a restricted free agent, but he could be a target for the Pistons in the upcoming summer. They have a wide gap at the frontcourt positions, only somewhat covered by the trade for Marvin Bagley III. On the other hand, Mo Bamba just had his best NBA season, albeit playing for the lowly Orlando Magic, and his rookie deal has not been extended, so the Magic might look to let him walk in free agency. With his age and potential, it might be a great pick-up for any team, let alone a Pistons team that needs rebounding, inside presence, and a young guy they will not have to overpay.
Bamba averaged 10.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks, shooting 47.7% from the field. Obviously, his efficiency has to improve, and he could block more shots with his seven-foot-ten wingspan. However, it also could be a situation of Bamba needing a new environment after four years of playing for the Magic. The Pistons have some good experiences with big men from the past, as they saw the likes of Ben Wallace and Andre Drummond become All-Stars while playing in Motown. It would be very hard to predict whether Mo Bamba can reach that level if he joins the Pistons, but he can be their defensive anchor in the middle and an offensive presence that can run pick’n’rolls with Cunningham or Hayes.
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While Harris could go to a contender, we can definitely see him in a Pistons jersey next season. The Pistons need some firepower off of the wings, but they also need someone to keep together their defensive identity. In Harris, they have all of that plus a bit more. He can be a player that signs short-term as a veteran player on a non-playoff team, but leaves an impact with his experience and versatility on both ends of the floor. While he was unable to showcase a ton of his talent on the struggling Magic, he still utilized his short Magic career to revive his shooting touch. Now, he has a season where he shot 38.4% on threes and he is still a great defender.
The Pistons do have Saddiq Bey, who scored 51 points against the Magic in March, but they need some veteran presence on the squad. With Harris, they would have a worthy starter who can cover for the defensive deficiencies of Cade Cunningham, while unlocking Bey onto second lineups from the bench. While their idea might not be to win right away, if they were to add Harris, even for a season or two, his experience and defensive prowess can rub on to the rest of their roster. Additionally, apart from Bey and Cunningham and somewhat Cory Joseph, their backcourt rotation is a bit slim, so they will need to improve it. The draft is full of wings and big men, so the free agency period will be ideal to pick up some backcourt pieces. Harris should be one of them if he is available.
To round up their targets with a wing, the Pistons could go all-in on their defensive identity and pick up Robert Covington. He is now part of the Clippers, but he will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and Covington will be looking to get paid. Since they only have $81 million tied up, the Pistons have a ton of money to work with. Additionally, while their season was unsuccessful in the grand scheme of things, the Pistons were still the 23rd rated defense this year, which is not too bad for a team full of youngsters. With Covington and the pairing mentioned above, the Pistons would go completely towards their defense, which is ideal due to the fact that Dwane Casey is an old-school, defense-first coach.
In terms of Covington, he is the prototype of a 3&D player. This season, he shot 37.6% on three-pointers, on 5.1 attempts per game. His Clippers stint, while just for 21 games, is especially impressive, as he shot an incredible 45% on 4.8 attempts per game. He is also a great defensive asset, with his size and defensive IQ that has been on display since his Philadelphia 76ers stint. If they were to pick him up, the Pistons could be a team that even if they lose, their roster composition will not make it easy for anyone. Due to the volatility of the Eastern Conference, if the Pistons can form a defensive identity, they could even make the postseason next year, and getting RoCo would be a great start.