The Detroit Pistons are one of the few teams in the NBA that are already unofficially eliminated from contention for a playoff spot on the 2022-23 season, and it’s been that way for awhile. Their 13-37 record is the worst in the Eastern Conference, and at this point, their season is solely about trying to land as good of a draft pick as they can in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The Pistons didn’t have many expectations entering this season, but with Cade Cunningham playing in just 12 games before being forced to undergo season-ending surgery on his shin, any expectations that they had quickly went flying out the door. Detroit has been focused on winning in the future rather than right now, but that has led to some ugly basketball throughout the season.
The good news is that the Pistons will have a great opportunity to aid their rebuilding efforts at the upcoming trade deadline, as they have some veteran players who could be of use to playoff contending teams throughout the league. But it’s clear that one player absolutely has to go, and if he doesn’t get traded, Detroit’s nightmare scenario will end up coming to fruition.
Pistons nightmare scenario for trade deadline
As previously mentioned, the Pistons will likely be more than happy to let their young guys get minutes in the NBA this season, while racking up losses in an effort to land the top overall draft pick in the 2023 draft, which will almost surely be used on Victor Wembenyama. As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them offload some of their veterans at the trade deadline.
One player who has been a top trade target for teams all season long is Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic was picked up by the Pistons in a trade with the Utah Jazz right before the start of the season, and he’s easily been Detroit’s best player on the season. With a lot of offensive responsibility on his shoulders, Bogdanovic has flourished and turned himself into a very desirable trade target.
Bogdanovic has been Detroit’s best player on most nights, and his per game numbers are among the best of his career (21.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 48.6 FG%, 41.7 3P%). Bogdanovic is an elite three-point shooter on the wing who can create his own shots, while also playing solid defense on the other end of the floor. With that in mind, it’s not hard to see why he’s such a desired trade target.
For that reason, Bogdanovic is widely expected to be moved before the trade deadline. The Pistons are wasting one of the best seasons of his career, and they don’t need a soon-to-be 34-year old sharpshooter leading their offense. It makes all the sense in the world to deal him to a playoff contender and pick up some assets while they can.
Regardless of what other moves the Pistons make, though, their nightmare scenario would end up occurring if they decided to hold onto Bogdanovic for whatever reason. It’s clear he has a lot of value on the market right now, and there’s simply no reason to hold onto him. But if he’s with Detroit February 10th, something will have gone seriously wrong for the Pistons.
It doesn’t have to be a complicated decision for the Pistons. As we’ve outlined here, they are a rebuilding team looking to get minutes for their young guys and a high draft pick in 2023. They don’t need a player like Bogdanovic on their roster, and they have lucked their way into him having a great season and becoming a popular trade target.
The return the Pistons could get for Bogdanovic could seriously help them in their rebuilding efforts. Moving a guy like Alec Burks could help, but he’s not going to net anything major. Bogdanovic initially didn’t seem like he could fetch a massive return entering the season, but that has quickly changed based on how good he’s been for Detroit this season.
The Pistons have set a pretty high price for Bogdanovic, and as the trade deadline nears, and teams get more desperate, they should be able to extract a great return for him. There have been rumors floating around that they don’t even really want to move Bogdanovic, but again, not moving him is the worst case scenario. What benefit does he have to the future of this team?
Detroit has been handed a gift in Bogdanovic’s strong season, and they can’t afford to simply not trade him, or stick to their rather high price, just because they feel like it. There’s nothing to gain from keeping Bogdanovic right now. He’s going to be 34 soon, and likely only has a few more seasons of being productive. If Bogdanovic doesn’t get traded, that will easily result in a nightmare scenario for the Pistons, and they absolutely must trade him before the deadline strikes.