DETROIT – By our count, the Detroit Pistons have made 27 transactions in the last month, including trades, free agent signings, draft picks and cuts. But finally, after all the chaos, it looks like the 15-man roster is set in stone.
New general manager Troy Weaver came into Detroit and took a chainsaw to the roster. He made nine trades -- from minor moves involving second-round picks to the deal that sent Luke Kennard packing. He selected three players in the top 20 of the draft. As soon as free agency opened, he brought in four players within hours.
Weaver never stopped tweaking the roster, and now, as the dust settles, only for players from the 2019-2020 Detroit Pistons remain -- and that’s perfectly fine with the fan base.
If the preseason is any indication, Blake Griffin will be the only familiar face in the starting lineup for the Pistons.
No. 7 overall draft pick Killian Hayes started all four games at point guard for the Pistons this preseason, and he was joined in the backcourt by Delon Wright, who was acquired when Detroit shipped Trevor Ariza to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Free agent signees Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee appear to have cemented themselves as the opening night starters at small forward and center, respectively.
The difference between the starters, the second unit and the end of the bench isn’t overly pronounced for this team, but the Dwane Casey appears to have four players he trusts most beyond the starting five.
Svi Mykhailiuk is possibly the best three-point shooter on the team, and that’s a valuable asset that’s lacking on the roster.
Derrick Rose will provide stability behind a rookie starting point guard, and will likely play major minutes despite coming off the bench.
The two most pleasant surprises of the preseason were Josh Jackson and Sekou Doumbouya.
Jackson was acquired via free agency and proved to be Detroit’s most well-rounded player during the preseason. In 19.8 minutes per game, Jackson averaged 10.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He shot 48.5% from the field and made half of his three-point attempts.
Doumbouya showed flashes of why the Pistons selected him with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2019 draft. He played 15 minutes per game and averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 61.9% from the field and 37.5% from three.
Right now, free agent signee Jahlil Okafor appears to be the primary backup to Plumlee, and even played nearly as many minutes during the preseason.
Okafor played well during the preseason, tying Griffin for the team lead with 5.5 rebounds per game and averaging 6.8 points per game on efficient shooting.
Wayne Ellington figures to see significant minutes after the Pistons added him to the mix on Dec. 1. He averaged 13.8 minutes per game during the preseason, but struggled to find his shot.
In 28 games with the Pistons two seasons ago, Ellington averaged 12 points per game and shot 37.3% from beyond the arc.
Weaver traded Luke Kennard to get back into the first round and draft Saddiq Bey at No. 19 overall, and he figures to see the court regularly despite experiencing some growing pains in the preseason.
Bey is known as an adept three-point shooter coming out of Villanova, but shot just 21.4% from deep in four games.
Rounding out roster
Isaiah Stewart was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2020 draft, and the Pistons traded a possible future first-round pick to get him.
While he’s part of the long-term plan for Detroit at center, Stewart appears to be buried at No. 3 on the depth chart to start the season, with Plumlee and Okafor earning a combined 41.6 minutes per game and Stewart averaging just 6.3.
In college, Stewart was a reliable finisher with a variety of moves around the basket, and a relentless rebounder despite his underwhelming size. He’ll give way to two veterans at the start of the season, but Casey and Weaver will eventually want him to get his feet wet in the rotation.
The Pistons took on Rodney McGruder’s salary in the Kennard trade, and there were rumblings that they would waive and stretch his contract, as they did with Dewayne Dedmon and Zhaire Smith.
But McGruder is still on the roster. He’s buried behind Hayes, Wright, Rose, Mykhailiuk and Ellington on the depth chart and averaged just 5.8 minutes per game during the preseason.
Deividas Sirvydis signed a somewhat surprising three-year contract with the Pistons after they invited him to the U.S. from overseas.
Sirvydis was the team’s second-round pick in 2019, but the Pistons let him develop for a year before inviting him to camp ahead of 2020-2021. He didn’t see the court in the preseason because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Weaver traded into the second round to draft Saben Lee this year, and he’ll begin the season on a two-way contract.
Lee can spend up to 45 days on the Pistons’ roster while also playing in the G League.
The former Vanderbilt guard showed quickness and playmaking ability in sparse preseason minutes, but Detroit is deep at guard, so he won’t begin the season on the active roster.