Pelicans’ forward Brandon Ingram recently won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award for 2020 and is rumored to be a target of the Detroit Pistons in free agency this fall.
When is the last time the Detroit Pistons went out and made a splash in free agency? For a majority of the previous decade, the mid-market team has failed to elevate from the mediocrity in which Motor City fans have grown accustomed to.
As a result, attendance has slumped and left the franchise in dire need of a star player. This is where breakout forward Brandon Ingram comes in. The youngster has been the subject of rumors suggesting the Pistons will pursue the restricted free-agent this fall to become the new face of the franchise.
The move would immediately give credibility to recently-hired GM Troy Weaver, who is looking to restore Detroit to its former glory as an NBA Championship contender.
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According to The Athletic’s James L. Edwards, a staff writer covering the Pistons, Ingram fits the bill for the team’s current “timeline” as they embark on the search for “young, high-end talent.” He recently hypothesized that the former Laker will be Weaver’s top target in the offseason.
These rumors seem only to be the latest fix for die-hard fans who have suffered through a series of letdowns since just before the ‘04 title run.
Remember missing out on Darko Milicic in the 2003 NBA Draft? How about when the Pistons supposedly made a big splash by signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva as their marquee free-agent acquisitions in 2009? The move proved to be a significant swing-and-miss for the franchise.
Perhaps, the gaffe that might hurt most of all is the franchise being awarded the seventh-overall pick in the upcoming NBA draft. Detroit spent a majority of the season tanking in pursuit of a lottery pick only to have their hopes crushed when the league’s draft positioning was revealed last month.
With what’s being predicted as an extremely-watered down draft pool, the Pistons will be forced to make moves in free agency or via trade with another team. Right now, Ingram would be the star player who makes the most sense.
He’s only 23-years-old and would give the franchise a legitimate All-Star to become the face of it’s rebuilding movement throughout the next four or five years. The move would offer a glimmer of hope for fans and promote a renewed interest in the squad.
Ticket sales would surely increase because the NBA is a league of stars, and that is what buyers want. It’s what purchasers would have…the notion that these Pistons are serious about building a contender. It’s the kind of move that sells seven-dollar hot dogs and $13 large domestic drafts.
Brandon Ingram’s star and on-court game are certainly on the rise, something the Detroit Pistons need to take note of.
This season, he led the way for a young Pelicans team who emerged as a threat to earn a bid as the Western Conference’s eighth playoff seed before the squad ultimately unraveled down the stretch playing in the NBA’s Orlando Bubble.
In 2019 first-overall draft pick Zion Williamson’s absence, he proved to be the team’s primary scoring threat and averaged 23.8 points-per-game to go along with game averages of 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists.
With the most cap-space available league-wide, the Pistons are expected to be significant players in the market. However, the Motor City isn’t exactly a marquee destination for budding NBA stars looking to cash in on the potential of their growing personal brand.
For example, a player of Ingram’s stature would stand to maximize their value as an individual at a much higher rate in warm-weather destinations like New York, Miami, or Dallas because those cities offer the opportunity for more endorsements, major media relationships, and more fans which ultimately would lead to a favorable increase in personal wealth.
However, does the price of fame outweigh the opportunity to win a championship and become immortal in a city like Detroit?
It seems highly unlikely that New Orleans would let Ingram go for nothing following the season he just had. Instead, they would probably leverage his “restricted” status against the Pistons and force a sign-and-trade deal where they would be compensated in the event of his departure.
Those scenarios would likely involve this year’s seventh-overall pick, and either Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose to go along with a first-rounder in next year’s draft.
So, if you’re a Detroit Pistons fan…What makes more sense? Grab a boom-or-bust prospect at seven and pour unending resources into the idea of potentially developing the player into a star, all with the risk of that player leaving in free agency for a bigger market one day?
Or, do you make a play for Ingram, who’s seen the bright lights in Los Angeles as the second-overall pick in 2016, and seems to be more comfortable playing in a smaller market where his on-court star has proven to stand out and shine extremely bright?
Detroit needs a winner now, and Weaver has the resume necessary to find and acquire high-end talent. A pursuit of Brandon Ingram is an absolute must for the Detroit Pistons because the franchise can’t afford to continue spinning their wheels in mediocrity, as they’ve grown accustomed to under the ownership of Tom Gores.