Rod Beard answers questions ahead of Pistons training camp, including Blake Griffin's outlook, Stanley Johnson's future and tram depth. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
For most of the summer, the Pistons players have been scattered around the country, getting in their last vacation time before the preseason begins in a couple weeks. The Pistons will get started with their media day on Sept. 24 and have training camp that week in Ann Arbor before starting the slate of five preseason games, beginning on Oct. 3.
The season snuck up quickly, but the Pistons should have one of the more intriguing outlooks of the teams in the Eastern Conference.
This week’s mailbag takes a look at some of the pressing questions, including Blake Griffin’s impact, coach Dwane Casey’s style and Stanley Johnson’s future.
■ Question: How soon does Blake (Griffin) get traded for a middling player and protected 1st rounder? — @Zachmo7022
■ Answer: It’s way too soon to start drawing conclusions about Blake Griffin. He played 25 games with the Pistons last season and had some decent numbers, including shooting 35 percent on 3-pointers. There’s not enough of a sample size to make a fair determination on his value. There have been flashes of his versatility, but not the explosiveness that became a hallmark of his early career.
That said, I don’t get the indication that Pistons owner Tom Gores is going to part with Griffin easily. I just don’t see it being in the cards. If anyone is traded, it likely wouldn’t be Griffin first — mainly because of the size of his contract. Even if another team were willing to take on that deal, they might not be so quick to give up a middling player and a first-round pick.
■ Q: What is your opinion on having @blakegriffin23 for a full season? — @CapsSlick
■ A: I’m a bit optimistic about what Griffin can bring, with a full summer of health and an offseason to work on chemistry with Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and others in the lineup. The injury storyline has been beaten into the ground, but if it’s a healthy full season, Griffin can pay significant dividends.
The bigger story will be a full season of health for Reggie Jackson, but that’s a different case.
■ Q: In Toronto Casey played the young players, rookies in some cases~I gotta believe he does the same in Detroit, including the 2nd rounders from the 2018 draft. Is that fair? — @Agridome
■ A: I’m inclined to agree with you on that. The Pistons have a lot of depth and can play several different types of lineups, based on the talent they have. The caveat always is whether the key players are healthy. I can see going to a rotation of 10 players maybe, with some cameo appearances by the rookies, but it’s going to be hard for Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown to break in and get significant playing time without other injuries creeping into the picture.
The Pistons have a lot of bodies they can put in different positions and although Thomas and Brown didn’t light up Summer League, they showed that they could have some value.
■ Q: If Stanley (Johnson) has a good year. Can the Pistons sign him? Enough cap space? — @Danthemancarnah
■ A: This is a tough one. It’s all dependent on Stanley Johnson having a breakout type of season and the Pistons wanted to move forward with him. It looks like the Glenn Robinson III acquisition is protection against Johnson maybe getting a significant offer sheet as a restricted free agent and the Pistons not being able to match it.
I’d say there’s a good chance of that, but with the Pistons’ dire financial situation, they may be painted into a corner with trying to find another big salary slot for Johnson, if it comes to that. They could always make a trade to free up some space, but that’s the way this roster is constructed: they are what they are and they have what they have unless something gives in a trade.
■ Q: Do you think Stanley is in like to start at the 3? — Darren Weiss @DW33zyy
■ A: Picture it: LeBron James or Jimmy Butler is facing the Pistons. Who would you rather have guarding either of them to start the game? Probably Stanley Johnson over Glenn Robinson III. If all other things are equal, Robinson could have an edge on the offensive end, but I could see him fitting in much better with the second group, with Ish Smith powering a running squad.
It’s not that Stanley Johnson wouldn’t fit there as well, but his defense is a better asset in the starting group and he doesn’t have to score as much there.