From the Pistons with Love

I am originally from Detroit and moved to North Carolina about 9 years ago. I have been and always will be a Piston's fan, but I got to say I'm interested and proud of the Hornets too!

There always is churn throughout the NBA. Two of the current Hornets have Pistons backgrounds, and even a draft pick (JT Thor) made his way via the Pistons this season. Three (3) of fifteen (15) spots on the roster is 20%. That's making me feel right at home more and more with the Hornets. Add to that Miles Bridges came via my alma mater!

The roster is filling out really nicely in my opinion, although center might still be a bit thin. Yet, I don't want to disrespect or be in any way a naysayer about how good Mason Plumlee is. I think he really showed me a lot last year as a Piston. He's a great passer, tireless rebounder, and has a soft touch around the basket. The only thing he seems to lack is a 3-point shot, so he doesn't spread the floor much. With the weapons that the Hornets already have to do that job, perhaps this situation is just right for Plumlee.

Ish Smith played three seasons for the Pistons. He had to become the lead point guard for half of the time when Reggie Jackson was oft injured. He brings a quickness to the role that I think provides good defense and up-tempo offense. He posted two successive seasons at Washington prior to arriving hitting the three at 36.7%, so this seems to have improved from his time in Detroit. His durability seems to have declined over the past three years, so this is a bit of a concern given he's now a 33 year-old. He's short too, at 6-0, so he has some defensive limitations.

You know Miles Bridges as well as I do, and he's definitely an up-and-coming talent. Last year he was rated one of the most efficient players in the league. At just 23 I would expect him to still be developing his game to be even better!

Re-signing Terry Rozier is a very important strategic step in my opinion. He would be a valuable addition to any team, and retaining him is a very good move. Although he is small as 2s go nowadays, he's aggressive and dependable contributor that is a possible all-star.

I would love to hear how Gordon Hayward is doing. Are there any progress reports or updates on how is feeling? His health and availability I think is central to the playoff hopes for the coming season. Looking at the full line-up this is a very, very capable team and should have a very good season.

Looking at the rotation is always fun for me. Here's how I see things at the moment:

PG LeMelo Ball, Ish Smith, Terry Rozier

SG Terry Rozier, James Bouknight, Kelly Oubre

SF Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, Kelly Oubre

PF PJ Washington, Miles Bridges, Kai Jones

C Mason Plumlee, PJ Washington, JT Thor

The bigs look a little thinly staffed to me. Essentially there are two players that really have to carry the load and two young players that hopefully can come on quickly to develop and earn minutes. I'm perhaps discounting last year's rookies too much, as well as the Martin Brothers. It would really help if McDaniels, Richards, or Carey could contribute in the middle this year, but we will see.

The point guard depth is also a bit of a concern, given that so many injuries seem to happen in the NBA nowadays. Grant Riller might develop over the course of the year, but his summer league work appeared to leave a lot to be desired. It's also true that in the league there is simply so much talent now at the point guard position, anything less than star quality seems to leave you vulnerable to be picked apart.

Overall, this has the look of a strong play-off bound team, provided the injury bug doesn't bite. Hayward and Rozier should lead the way, but I'm hoping that Ball takes another step forward too. This is a back court / wing dominated team, but that seems to reflect a growing trend throughout the league. Old-style low post play is waning. Plumlee's passing ability makes him a valuable player as a second offensive QB, but also I think you'll really appreciate his hard nosed defensive play. This might be his greatest minutes season, yet. He had the second highest per game average of his career last year in Detroit, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the floor closer to 29 or 30 minutes every night for the Hornets, at least through the half-way mark.

Those big rookies, JT Thor and Kai Jones, have lots of energy, but I'm not convinced they have the maturity needed to play consistent minutes. They are definitely nice pieces for the future though.

If I was the GM of the Hornets I'd love to obtain another big and another 1. Easier said than done, but the Piston's connection seems active. With the arrival of Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes will become part of a two-man point tandem. Saben Lee showed improvement from last year in the summer league, and if he continues to earn more and more minutes as a back-up point guard, Cory Joseph the veteran re-signed, might become available for a team like the Hornets. Detroit has other players that they might be willing to trade too that might be a fit for the Hornets. Sekou Doumbouya, their top pick from three years ago, is a possibility.

Doumbouya has flashed star potential, but has also seemed lackadaisical at times too. Trey Lyles, a former lottery pick, was signed to help spur his development, but the minutes available might not readily allow for it. Detroit has Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Isaiah Stewart, and at least two rookies that might prove to deserve minutes more (Luka Garza and Balsa Koprivica, with the outside possibility Jamorko Pickett or Chris Smith also push for roles). Doumbouya at his best had several double-doubles in his rookie year, but seemed to languish last season. Yet, he won't be 21 until the end of December. If the right role on a winning team presented itself, this might be the kind of change of scenery move that makes sense for all.

Detroit has other pieces that might make trading easier too. Frank Jackson, Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson, Rodney McGruder, Jalil Okafor, as well as previously mentioned Cory Joseph and Sekou Doumbouya are a contingent of young yet seasoned players that a playoff bound team might covet. Although these are good players they aren't the core of Cunningham-Hayes-Bey-Grant-Stewart I think the team is building around. Other players on their roster include rookies Isaiah Livers, Luka Garza, Balsa Koprivica, Jamorko Pickett, Chris Smith, and young stud Saben Lee, wily veteran free agent Kelly Olynyk, and lastly, the aforementioned Trey Lyles.

Speaking of playoffs, I'm not overly confident that Detroit will make the jump this year, but they are accumulating some interesting pieces of the puzzle.