Troy Weaver took over the general manager position of the Detroit Pistons on June 18, 2020. Since then, he has molded the Pistons into his own. After the trade of Svi Mykhailiuk on March 12, 2021, the team is almost purely in his image. The only player left on the team from previous management is the young Sekou Doumbouya. The results may not be the prettiest right now, but he is a man with a plan.
At the start of training camp, many players looked to show promise. However, for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Some of the players at camp went nowhere. One of those players looked quite intriguing. He was LiAngelo Ball. The brother of rookie phenom LaMelo and solid veteran Lonzo, Ball had the game in his blood, and his name too. Unfortunately for anyone interested in the boy in the brothers’ shadows, he was released before the regular season. It seems as it was all a publicity stunt to have the national media talk about the Pistons. It was not all for naught, as it was a turning point for LiAngelo, showing that at least someone was willing to take a chance on him.
Another false alarm was a college standout, Vermont’s Anthony Lamb. An undrafted free agent, he showed promise, as he was the America East player of the year. It was quite disappointing when with less than two weeks before the season began, he was waived. Other GMs had their eyes on him though, and after playing G-League for Canton and Rio Grande Valley, on March 11, 2021, he made his debut for the Houston Rockets. In the years to come, any mistakes Troy Weaver has, Lamb may end up being a quite glaring one.
Pleasant Free Agent Surprises
When Troy Weaver went digging he stumbled upon gold. Jerami Grant has played at an all-star caliber so far this season and at 26, he can only go up from here. It should have been no surprise, as he is the nephew of Michael Jordan’s compatriot Horace Grant and the son of 11-year veteran Harvey Grant. As of the time of writing this article, Jerami is averaging 23.7 points per game. An impressive feat considering his career-high is just under 14 at 13.6. When he was acquired by the Pistons, the high roof for him seemed to be at only 20 PPG. His main increase in scoring has been taking more shots and playing more minutes. Although his percentage from behind the arc has slightly decreased compared to previous years, his overall three-pointers made has gone up one whole basket. A talented basketball player, it’s a shocker how he has not broken out until just now.
In his older age, Wayne Ellington has shown that age indeed is just one number. Another number is 12.8 PER. That is Wayne Ellington’s highest player efficiency rating, and it’s coming in his twilight years. At age 33, he is arguably playing his best ball. A .449 percentage from the field is his career-high. So is his .424 from deep, a tied career-high from his short stint with the Mavericks. Additionally, his 10.6 points per game are his second-highest in his career. While most players peak between 24 and 30, Ellington may be pulling a full 180. On a contract under 3 million dollars, he has been of immense value without the cost. Troy Weaver has two options going forward. He could either extend Ellington or turn his performance into future draft picks. At the end of the day, Wayne Ellington was a surprising acquisition that outperformed everyone’s expectations.
Troy Weaver made his mark at the 2020 NBA draft. Trading away players such as Luke Kennard, he was ready to morph his team to how he saw fit. With four draft picks, he had a chance to make his team. That was exactly what he did, finding the players he needed.
One of those players was Isaiah Stewart. At 16th overall, it seemed as if the big man from Washington was a reach. But to many Detroit fans, he reminds many of early 2000s centerpiece Ben Wallace. Not big in size, but big in physicality. At 6’8″ Stewart is on the shorter side of centers, but so was “Big Ben Wallace”, standing at only 6’9″. Stewart so far through his rookie campaign looks to be a Wallace with some shooting. Averaging a block and just under 6 boards, Stewart could end up being a dominating threat for the next 15 years. He also has half a steal per game, showing him to be an all-around defender.
Probably the greatest of Weaver’s picks, however, was Saddiq Bey out of Villanova. The winner of the Julius Erving award, he showed himself to be a top small forward during his standout sophomore season. Weaver saw talent in him, as he was willing to give up future star Luke Kennard in order to acquire Bey’s rights. Since coming to Detroit, he has been close to the league’s upper echelon of rookies. Draining it from 3 almost 40% of the time, he has the potential of a deadly deadeye. With three-fifths of a steal per game, his defensive is not too shabby either. Overall, Bey may potentially be the best pick outside of the lottery.
For the most part, second-round picks are just filler. However, in his short amount of playing time, Vanderbilt’s Saben Lee has shown glimmers of hope. The 38th overall pick, not much was expected out of him. In his little playing time, he’s averaging 6.6 points per game, 2.3 assists, and .8 steals. For a second-round rookie, that shows some promise. Not much can be determined now, but there were many worse options than Lee to draft.
For every player acquired, players must be lost. It is disappointing, but part of a long cycle. Troy Weaver cut and bought out former superstars and fan favorites. There can not be good without bad, so these were necessary.
With the Pistons, Derrick Rose had his best performance since Chicago. In his contract year, Weaver wanted to capitalize off that. To the surprise of few and far between, he was sent out for youth. He was sent back to New York, for the young Dennis Smith Jr. and future picks. Derrick Rose is going to be an upper-class free agent, and it will be interesting to see where he signs.
After an injury-riddled tenure, the Pistons finally bought out Blake Griffin’s contract. A veteran who has trouble staying on the court is not good for a rebuilding team. Troy Weaver bit the bullet and bought him out, allowing any other team to pick him up. Averaging 12.3 PPG before being cut, he showed signs of regression. Looking to make a championship run, the Nets picked him up and plan on using him as a big to complement their stars. It is a shame that the Pistons could not get anything in return for him, but his time had come to an end.
A real surprise, Svi was sent out to Oklahoma City with a future second for Hamidou Diallo. The young Ukrainian seemed to be on the rise, being as he is only 23 and was selected to the rising stars challenge in 2020. He was having a down year in 2021 but it didn’t seem like much. However, in the eyes of Troy Weaver, he had to go. Getting Diallo was a sizeable return, as the former Kentucky Wildcat is a breath of fresh air. Averaging 12, 2, and 5, he has the potential for a well-rounded combo guard. He is also younger than Svi, being 22 years of age. An interesting pickup, Diallo may have a role in the future of Detroit basketball.