Detroit Pistons roster analysis: Power forwards a potential strength

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons have not played basketball in nearly three months. To be fair, they had not played meaningful basketball for longer than that. To determine the viability of the team’s future, we are looking at the status of each position. Today, we analyze the power forwards on the current roster.

Dwane Casey has had good experiences with power forwards in the past. In Toronto, he had veteran Serge Ibaka stretching the floor, and he had eventual Most Improved Player, Pascal Siakam, coming off the bench. Now, he would love to get his Detroit Pistons to that same level. Below is the list of power forwards on the current depth chart, in order of minutes played.

64. . . . Sekou Doumbouya. 1. player

Sekou Doumbouya is arguably the most exciting piece in the entire organization. Still under 20 years old, he has nothing but potential, and at times already, he has shown glimpses approaching it.

Take, for example, the win against the Celtics, when Doumbouya shot 10 for 13 from the field and scored a career-high 24 points. Or back-to-back road games in which he boarded 11 and 10 rebounds and only turned the ball over twice. Then, there are the nights where he shoots 1 for 8 or 2 for 15. He is a young player, after all.

When the Pistons took Sekou in the first round last year (15th overall), it was a bit of a surprise. Playing in French leagues, American viewers had to hunt a little harder to find his footage. Nevertheless, he was on the draft board, and the Pistons liked what they saw.

Most importantly, the Pistons have him on a rookie deal through the end of 2022, should they exercise their team options. It bears repeating: he is 19 years old. With a few more seasons to groom, Sekou Doumbouya has the opportunity to turn into a top-notch power forward.

. . . Blake Griffin. 2. player. 64

It is easy to be of two minds about Blake Griffin. On one hand, he is a truly elite forward: former #1 overall draft pick, Rookie of the Year, multiple All-Star, multiple All-NBA, and a borderline Hall-of-Famer. On the other hand, his knees are glass, and these injuries have haunted him his entire career. Not to mention, his yearly average $34 million deal accounts for a quarter of the team’s cap space.

When he is active, Griffin has the ability to change the course of a game as he has proven numerous times. In 2018-19, he played in 75 games, helping to lead the team to the playoffs. But knee injuries were already slowing him down by that April, and he had surgery shortly after the season’s end. Apparently, it was a surgery from which he did not fully recover.

He appeared in only 18 games where he submitted disappointing numbers well below his All-Star output the year prior. Then, in January, he had to undergo another surgery which sidelined him for the remainder of the time.

He will make $36.6 million this upcoming year, and it is a safe bet he will take his $38.9 million option the year after that. All the Detroit Pistons can do is pray he makes a full recovery to his All-Star form, because he will be on the team for the foreseeable future.

64. . . . John Henson. 3. player

As with Brandon Knight, John Henson was one of the pieces exchanged with the Cavaliers for Andre Drummond. As such, he is an expiring contract and will most likely not be renewed. That said, he was a capable player in the eleven games he saw in Detroit–he even started six of them. He did not score many points but was an efficient shooter. Detroit could do worse than Henson if they elected to bring him back, just not at the $12 million average salary deal he is coming off now. It is safe to say he will not be returning.

By this count, then, the Pistons will have two power forwards going into the 2020-21 season. One of them has played fewer than 40 NBA games, and the other has unreliable knees. This means there is some need to bring in a forward in some way.

It is far from the biggest need, however, because they do have players who can start–more than can be said for other positions. Still, the Pistons should look to improve the four in the next year or so. They will want to invest in a stretch four to improve spacing and the three-point game.

light. Trending. 2020-21 roster outlook: Survey of point guards

This is the fourth in a series looking at the Detroit Pistons depth chart; the final piece on centers will be out soon. If you missed any of the first three, you can read up on point guards, shooting guards, or small forwards.