Detroit Pistons

DBB on 3: Grab Bag featuring Embiid versus Drummond

There wasn’t a common thread for the three questions for this latest edition so it’s a grab bag of relatively unrelated but interesting topics.

The one that definitely warranted inclusion was prompted by some heated back-and-forth in comment thread related to the last Detroit Pistons vs Philadelphia 76’ers game, specifically dealing with a Joel Embiid vs Andre Drummond debate. The comment thread was visited by a great many of our dear friends over at SBNation sister site Liberty Ballers.

Things got pretty heated as we and our friends seemed to have a difference of opinion, but I of course as a level-headed representative of DBB kept myself completely out of the discussion.

I liked Embiid as a player early in the season

But dude is dead to me now.

-Christopher Daniels

Ahem…well I guess I did dip my toe in but I didn’t let it get out of hand or personal.

The difference between a young Olajuwon and a young Embiid isn’t talent, it’s that one is a narcissist clown

-Christopher Daniels

Ah whatever.

It’s not really relevant and the fact I would never call Embiid that to his face makes it all in good fun, right?

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In this edition of DBB on 3 we’re also discussing possible midseason trades and favorite teams (gasp!) other than the Detroit Pistons.

Enjoy!

1. We’re far enough into the season to get a feel for the team. Do you see an obvious position in need of an upgrade through a mid-season trade? Who would you reasonably target and with what assets?

Lazarus Jackson: The obvious place is backup center, but that’s due to Jon Leuer’s injury more than anything else. If Stanley Johnson is going to continue to struggle, I think you also have to look at a defense-first wing for the bench (I like Kennard, I don’t love Kennard as the de-facto backup 3, Ideally I would split the backup SG minutes between Galloway and Kennard).

Ben Gulker: In order for the Pistons to take another step toward contention, they need an upgrade at starting SF. That could still come from Stanley Johnson developing, and I’m in no rush to move on from him and don’t expect it. If SVG is committed to Boban rotting on the bench, then adding a big makes sense. As for assets and targets? I’d honestly be fine letting this season play out, because barring something major and completely unexpected, I don’t see either position moving the needle enough to be worth it.

Justin Lambregtse: I think backup center or starting small forward or the obvious answers. I will go with backup center, and I would try to poach Greg Monroe from Phoenix with a 1st rounder and somebody like Leuer. I doubt Phoenix wants to take on Leuer’s contract and you would have to include other filler to make salaries match, but I would love to get Greg Monroe.

Michael Snyder: A consistent offensive small forward would be nice but I’m not willing to sell on Stanley Johnson yet. I’d only do a mid-season trade if 1) the incoming piece puts us in contention for a championship or 2) it’s a clear win for Detroit (Tobias Harris for a pack of gum in 2016 type of trade). For it to be worthwhile then reason two is probably baked into reason one.

Steve Hinson: I’ve been happy with Stanley Johnson’s improvement, but I think starting small forward is the clearest weakness on the team. It’d be nice to see less weight on Stanley until he’s able to be more of a consistent offensive threat. Oklahoma City is coming on a big stretch. It’s a road trip but against mediocre competition. If they can’t get something going, the Thunder will need to start considering when to call the Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Carmelo Anthony experiment a failure. Paul George would be awesome with the Pistons, immediately taking them from surprising start to force to be reckoned with. I don’t quite know what they’d be looking to get in return from him, but considering they only gave up Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to get him, a first round pick and stuff (let’s say Jon Leuer and Boban Marjanovic) ought to get it done.

Yeah, that’s not much, but it’s also just three months worth of Paul George. Not going to bring in a premium Paul George package.

Ryan Pravato: I’m of the outlook that they might be better off this season just going with what they have. Perhaps they should scan (when the time comes) the waiver wires / free agent lists and add an athletic but not entirely shooting allergic small forward to the mix in case the guy is the next Covington (or even Covington-lite is fine). That reminds me, what is Luis Montero up to these days in Grand Rapids?

Sean Wheeler: The one move that would take this team into instant contention would be a trade for Paul George. I don’t think OKC is going to work, and he’s an ideal fit with the Pistons current core. Gives them a solid defender who can also create his own shot and hit open threes. Also gives them the legitimate star they’ve been seeking. Reggie-Avery-PG13-Tobias-Dre + a solid bench would absolutely challenge the Celts and Cavs for the East crown.

David Fernandez: Back-up SF seems to be the most obvious answer here. I’m not so concerned about the back-up C position, as Moreland has played well in the past few games, and Detroit should have Leuer back in the next month or so. As for assets/targets, I’m going to echo Ben Gulker here and prefer to ride this season out as is. I think Detroit as currently constructed should be a top-5 seed in the East.

2. You’re an NBA GM and told you have to choose between Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond going forward. Looking at salary, talent ceiling, and injury history (and attempting to lay aside homerism) who do you choose and why?

Lazarus Jackson: I would choose Drummond, for now. If I were a GM, I think I’d play it pretty safe, and you just can’t trust Embiid’s injury history. To Andre’s credit, he has made this a harder decision with his elevated play this year. The more Embiid plays, though, the more you absolutely consider taking him.

Ben Gulker: Theoretically, Embiid has a lot higher ceiling given his skill set, but as of today, I’d take Drummond and not think twice about it. Drummond is the best rebounder on the planet, has thrived in his offensive role this season, and can no longer be taken out of close games by off-the-ball fouls. Plus, he’s been crazy durable. Embiid is still raw, and his injury concerns are obvious. Maybe this is a harder conversation for me two years from now, but today, it’s fairly easy.

Justin Lambregtse: Joel Embiid. I love Andre Drummond and the improvements that he has made this year. If you asked me this question in the offseason I wouldn’t even have to think about it. I just think Embiid has superstar potential if he stays healthy, which is obviously a big if.

Michael Snyder: I like the new Drummond but I’m taking Embiid and not thinking twice. Passing on Embiid after what he’s put on film gets GM’s fired and I want to keep my hypothetical job forever.

Steve Hinson: Andre Drummond, thanks to his improved play this season. Drummond has become the more efficient offensive player, is the better rebounder, and probably a bit better defensively. Sure, Embiid’s 23 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.8 blocks per game is an incredible stat line. No question. But this season Drummond has shown he’s not a relic as a traditional center. But is Embiid a relic? When is the last time a team has been a contender with a big man having a 30+ percent usage percentage? The 2005 Heat with Shaquille O’Neal is the last one I’m aware of.

I prefer a big man who can fit in rather than needs to be the focal point. Over the past few years that hasn’t been Drummond, but he’s showing that ability this season.

Ryan Pravato: Embiid. But I’d have to look at the team I have and look at the fit. Anyway, probably Embiid. Players like Embiid just don’t come around very often. His offensive skill set / footwork are fantastic for a guy who hasn’t been playing hoops for all that long. He’s going to get a lot better (and probably smarter) from here on out.

Sean Wheeler: I’d pick Drummond, primarily due to the injury history. Drummond is a workhorse and is now reaching his potential. Embiid is very talented, but the injury history casts a huge cloud over his head.

David Fernandez: Drummond’s my guy….usually, but in this situation I’d have to go Embiid strictly due to his ceiling. Yes, the injuries are a major concern, and Drummond has played his way to a top-tier status this season, but Embiid has looked healthy this season (knocks on wood) and could be the best player in the league in a couple years time.

3. We all have other teams (I think?!) we like to follow and root for (except when they’re playing the Pistons). Name one East and one West team you really like this year.

Lazarus Jackson: In the East, I like watching the Bucks – Giannis is so fun to watch and their length and aggression on defense is so eye-catching. In the West, I love to watch Portland because I’m a huge Damian Lillard fan – even if Portland has been winning games with smoke and mirrors recently. I stayed up to watch the recent Bucks-Blazers game, which was a good game to watch, even if the Bucks easily handled the Blazers.

Ben Gulker: Given that the Pistons are finally relevant again, I don’t find myself following anyone in the East as I’ve done over the past several seasons. The closest I come is the Bucks and the 76ers for fairly obvious superstar reasons. Out West, it has to be the Warriors. Just beautiful basketball when they’re playing well.

Justin Lambregtse: My non-Pistons East team has always been the Cavs. As for the west, I really like the Denver Nuggets.

Michael Snyder: East – 76ers, LeBrons and Bucks. West – Warriors, Rockets and Nuggets. Do I get extra credit for naming three in each conference?

Steve Hinson: As much as I hate to, I have to tip my hat to the Celtics and how they’ve bounced back from the Gordon Hayward injury. I didn’t think they’d be better this season, but they clearly have been. And it is great to see friends of the program Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris fitting in well with their new teams.

Being in Colorado, I follow the Nuggets closely. They haven’t picked up where they left off after the All Star break last year, but have still managed to be in the top half of the West even without that same offensive explosiveness. I expect things will still click for them this year and they’ll really raise some eyebrows. And Nikola Jokic will start getting some superstar recognition.

Ryan Pravato: 3. I’ll watch Philly from time to time. In the West I actually like Utah… it might have a little something to do with Donovan Mitchell. College basketball is also quite entertaining for me (except when the refs and media timeouts ruin things.. which is a lot). I like knowing and seeing about as many prospects as I can that will be in the NBA one day.

Sean Wheeler: I began rooting for the Spurs back when Rodman joined them, but mainly because the Pistons were trash at the time. In the East, it’s hard to root for anyone because if they’re too good, they’re a problem for the Pistons. I do like the Celtics a bit more now that they’ve added Morris and Baynes, and it’s hard not to like how hard and together they play as a team. But they’re still the enemy. I watch NBA LP and root for teams to beat those who could challenge the Pistons or affect their place in the standings.

David Fernandez: Some of you may find this blasphemous, but give me Cleveland. LeBron James is still my favorite player, and watching him do what he’s done this season is incredible. Hopefully people cherish the fact that they’re watching a living legend continue to be the best player on the planet in his mid-30s. Out West, the Houston Rockets, love watching their free flowing offense, and James Harden is an absolute whiz.

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What do you all think? Please copy/paste the three topics and fill in your answers in the comments below!

1. We’re far enough into the season to get a feel for the team. Do you see an obvious position in need of an upgrade through a mid-season trade? Who would you reasonably target and with what assets (if you have time to do a Trade Machine I’ll include the graphic)?

2. You’re an NBA GM and told you have to choose between Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond going forward. Looking at salary, talent ceiling, and injury history (and attempting to lay aside homerism) who do you choose and why?

3. We all have other teams (I think?!) we like to follow and root for (except when they’re playing the Pistons). Name one East and one West team you really like this year.

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