The Detroit Pistons are the definition of a team that compensates for its lack of overall talent due to hard-nosed play and hustle.
In one of the more entertaining sweeps you'll ever witness, the Pistons were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of this year's playoffs. However, the 4-0 series result doesn't illustrate how close the series actually was. There were multiple times from Games 1 through 4 where Detroit actually held a lead over Cleveland in the final quarter.
One of the more promising players on this rising Pistons team is 23-year-old Tobias Harris. Harris was acquired by Detroit from the Orlando Magic at the trade deadline. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 16.6 points on 47.4 percent from the field, 37.5 percent from beyond the arc and 91.1 percent from the free-throw line with the Pistons in 2015-16.
However, Harris wasn't just considered an acquisition at the trade deadline—he's considered the team's 2016 free agent signing by head coach Stan Van Gundy.
Via Zack Lowe of ESPN (via RealGM):
“A lot of teams wanted that maximum cap space,” said Van Gundy. “We looked it and said, “OK, there are gonna be 28 teams with money, there are only so many great players, and you're gonna end up overpaying for people.” And we're not at the top of everybody's list.”
Van Gundy also cited Harris' salary-cap friendly contract as a major reason for why they wanted him:
“The question for us was: He's 23 years old with a contract that is descending over the next couple years, and can we do better than that in free agency? And for us, the answer
He also attributed the fact that Harris is locked in to a contract for the next three years as a major asset to the team
“It's a bird in the hand. We're not desperate to get a player, and we don't have to overpay to just meet the [salary floor]. We got a good, young player locked in for the next three years. A lot of people want shorter contracts. For us, young players on longer contracts is a good way to go.”
There is no doubt that the University of Tennessee product is a nice player to have in your lineup. He's extremely effective from both the three-point and the free-throw line and his field goal percentage illustrates that he's a moderately efficient player.
However, if you're a Pistons fan, you have to hope that Van Gundy is exaggerating a little bit. If the team doesn't make any major moves and enters the 2016-17 season with Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Harris as their “big three,” their ceiling is a first-round exit—no matter how competitive they look versus elite teams like the Cavaliers.
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