Detroit Pistons depth chart analysis: A look at small forwards

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons are now officially on the outside looking in at the new 22-team NBA playoffs. We will continue to look, then, at the future of the organization by looking at the depth chart as it stands today.

In an era when basketball positions are increasingly more indefinable, the small forward is possibly the hardest to nail down. Smaller players take some time at the guard spot while bigger men may occupy space down below the rim, yet all could be termed “shooting forwards.” There is a reason the three is smack dab in the middle of the organization chart. At any rate, the Detroit Pistons primarily played four players at the spot this year, with another three players seeing more than a few games there. Those that saw the most time there include the following:

Tony Snell. 1. player. 64. . .

The Pistons acquired Tony Snell last offseason in an absolute steal of a trade for Jon Leuer (who, incidentally, announced his retirement just last week). In his first season with Detroit, Snell was about as reliable as could be for the Pistons this season.

He appeared in 59 games and started all but two of them. On display was his acumen for threes, which were on the rise from his days in Milwaukee. He shot over 40% from beyond the arc and was a perfect 32 for 32 from the free-throw line. Quietly, he had one of the most significant offensive impacts for the team.

Will he return to the Pistons? It is very possible. Snell has a player option for over $12 million. He could choose to exercise. While this is a steep price tag (only Blake Griffin stands to make more in 2020-21), it would be good value to the Pistons to have a young, effective shooter. Snell may elect to refinance with another team, but for now–optimistically–we will assume he is staying put. If not, the Pistons have another young option on the wing.

64. . . . Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. 2. player

Mykhailiuk came to Detroit from the Lakers as a part of the Reggie Bullock deal a year ago. After being relegated to limited minutes in Los Angeles, he got the chance to shine in a retooling Detroit organization. Especially in the later stretch of the season, Mykhailiuk regularly saw 24+ minutes of play and became a regular starter.

This possibly speaks more to the Pistons’ injury woes and lack of depth, but Mykhailiuk was an asset for the team. He took 5.1 threes a game and made a lot of them (40%). There is room to grow, but at 22 years old, Dwane Casey and the coaching staff have a lot to work with. He has a cheap team option of $1.6 million and will be back next season.

64. . . . Louis King. 3. player

King signed a two-way contract with the Detroit Pistons, enabling him to play in two leagues, like his teammate, Jordan Bone. King played 31 games with the Grand Rapids Drive and another 10 with Detroit. In Grand Rapids, he has demonstrated he can be a scorer. While there was not a lot to go on in Detroit, we will possibly see him in another two-way contract in the upcoming year.

. Khyri Thomas. 4. player. 64. .

The Pistons are still exercising Khyri Thomas, a player they drafted in 2018, although he has not gotten the regular playing time to prove himself or the time in the G League to gain experience. He favors the three–57% of his attempts come from beyond the arc–but unfortunately, it has not translated to many points.

He did see some more regular time at the end of the season, but he still needs some much-needed experience. He will have another chance, though: Thomas is under contract for one more season.

After all this, it seems the Detroit Pistons remain in good shape at the wing. Even if Tony Snell opts to leave, Svi Mykhailiuk has proven himself more than a capable backup. Plus, with Luke Kennard sliding down a role and Sekou Doumbouya shifting up, the Pistons have enough coverage at the three–or rather, there are other positions more crucially in need of improvement.

Trending. Survey of point guards. light

If you missed either of the previous installments in this series on the Pistons depth chart, you could find one on point guards as well as one on shooting guards. Next, we will focus on the power forward.