Pistons' playoff chances slightly improve with trade deadline moves
Pistons acquired Reggie Jackson, Tayshaun Prince for Augustin, Singler, Jerebko, Datome
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – In an Eastern Conference that features only six teams with records better than 22-30, Thursday was a rare day in which the middling group felt like a winner.
Six teams are battling for the final two playoff spots in the East, with the Hornets (22-30) and Heat (22-30) currently rounding out the postseason bracket and the Nets (21-31), Celtics (20-31), Pistons (21-33) and Pacers (21-33) close behind.
Four of these teams made moves to reshape their rosters Thursday. Here's a look at how the trades will impact Detroit's chance to squeeze into the postseason.
Pistons acquire Reggie Jackson; send D.J. Augustin and Kyle Singler to Thunder
Stan Van Gundy's decision to bring Reggie Jackson to Detroit marked one of the biggest moves of the trade deadline. Jackson, who was unhappy with losing his starting point guard position after Russell Westbrook returned from injury, will take over in Detroit with Brandon Jennings injured and D.J. Augustin traded.
After he inherited the starting job on Nov. 3, Jackson averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 assists and 5.2 rebounds per game in 13 starts for the Thunder. He shot 41.6 percent from the floor and 27 percent from beyond the arc en route to posting a 3-10 record over the span.
Jackson is only 24 years old and is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the game. Though he is a restricted free agent this offseason, the Pistons will likely try to keep him in Detroit after shipping Kyle Singler and Augustin to Oklahoma City to acquire him.
As a starter, Augustin gave the Pistons 20.3 points and 8.2 assists per game. He shot 46.8 percent from the field and 43.2 percent from beyond the arc. Jackson's arrival in Detroit gives the Pistons a slight upgrade at point guard, as his pure playmaking ability and athleticism should open up the offense.
Since Jennings' injury ended a promising season, the Pistons won just four of 11 games heading into the All-Star break.
The addition of Jackson brings a point guard with the ability to score and create for teammates to a starting lineup led by the front court duo of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. If the 24-year-old can settle into a role alongside those two weapons, Detroit will enjoy an offensive boost.
In Singler, the Pistons lose about seven points and 2.5 rebounds per game. Singler was a 40 percent shooter this season and gave Van Gundy decent defense in 40 starts.
Postseason impact: Slightly improves Detroit's chances
Nets trade Kevin Garnett to Timberwolves for Thaddeus Young
Offensively and financially, this trade was a steal for the Nets. Thaddeus Young averages 14.3 points and five rebounds per game and shoots a solid 45.1 percent from the floor. Kevin Garnett, in his 20th NBA season, was giving the Nets just 6.8 points and rebounds per game. Though Garnett is still a solid defender, his $12 million contract is more reflective of his career accomplishments than his actual current value.
Moving Garnett will loosen up Brooklyn's log jam at center, which featured Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee. Now the Nets can stick to the two more effective offensive options in the middle and add Young to a cast of scoring threats.
Postseason impact: Improves Brooklyn's playoff chances
Heat trade Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams, Justin Hamilton and 2 first-round picks for Goran Dragic and Zoran Dragic
Perhaps the highest-profile player shopped at the trade deadline was Goran Dragic, whose request to be traded to a winner was made public earlier this week.
Dragic averaged 16.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for a Suns team tied for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The 28-year-old from Yugoslavia is one of the most efficient starting guards in the game, shooting over 50 percent from the floor for the second straight year.
The Suns also sent sparsely-used Zoran Dragic, Goran's brother, to Miami in the deal.
Danny Granger was averaging 6.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game for Miami. Shawne Williams averaged a similar 6.6 points and 3.2 rebounds.
Dragic will replace Norris Cole and now-backup Mario Chalmers as the starting point guard in Miami. Cole and Chalmers combined to give the Heat just 17.1 points per game from the point guard position this season.
The Heat certainly upgraded the backcourt with Dragic, but took a hit in depth with three contributors heading elsewhere.
Postseason impact: Significantly improves Miami's playoff chances
*Note*: If Chris Bosh's blood clot concerns end his season, the negative impact from his loss will outweigh the addition of Dragic and greatly hurt Miami's playoff hopes.
Pistons acquire Tayshaun Prince; send Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome to Celtics
This trade may have a bigger impact on fans' heartstrings than the Pistons' actual performance on the court. Tayshaun Prince, one of the team's most important contributors in a string of six straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals and 2004 NBA championship, is back at the Palace.
Prince spent two full seasons in Memphis after he joined the Grizzlies during the 2012-2013 campaign. While playing much of his time as a power forward, Prince saw his overall numbers plummet across the board.
When he was traded to the Celtics in January, Prince moved back to his natural wing position and shot 55.9 percent, giving Boston 8.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
After Singler was sent to Oklahoma City in the Jackson deal, Van Gundy brought Prince back to shore up a small forward position that has crushed the Pistons this season. Starter Josh Smith was waived in December and Singler and Caron Butler took over the majority of the minutes at SF, combining for just 12.7 points on under 40 percent shooting.
At 34 years old, Prince won't be the game-changer he was during his Pistons prime, but he should be a slight all-around upgrade at small forward, as the only options on the roster without him were Butler and Datome.
Jonas Jerebko, who was buried behind Monroe and Anthony Tolliver at power forward, played a small role for Van Gundy but was making $4.5 million this season. Luigi Datome played just 5.7 minutes per game.
Postseason impact: Slightly improves Detroit's playoff chances, has little impact on Boston's playoff chances
Overall, the Pistons essentially replaced Augustin with Jackson and Singler with Prince, while taking Jerebko and Datome out of the rotation. Van Gundy is only halfway through his first season in Detroit and has just begun the process of building his own roster. These moves gave the Pistons a very slight improvement on the court this season and left Van Gundy with options heading into the offseason.
Remember, Van Gundy's four biggest Pistons moves heading into the trade deadline were cutting Smith, adding Augustin and Jodie Meeks in the offseason and signing Tolliver. Those moves worked out for the Pistons, proving Van Gundy's skill in identifying fits for his system.
The competition improved at the deadline as well, so the Pistons will have to battle to earn one of the final postseason seeds. But with a conference that will likely send two sub-.500 teams to the playoffs, Detroit has a real chance to qualify.
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