Detroit Pistons' 2015 Trade-Deadline Shopping List

Jakub Rudnik@jakubrudnikContributor IIIJanuary 15, 2015

Who should Stan Van Gundy be looking to acquire for the Detroit Pistons' push for the playoffs?
Who should Stan Van Gundy be looking to acquire for the Detroit Pistons' push for the playoffs?Duane Burleson/Associated Press

After winning nine of 10 games upon releasing forward Josh Smith, the Detroit Pistons can be buyers instead of sellers before the trade deadline.

By removing Smith from the frontcourt rotation and getting Jodie Meeks back on the perimeter, they have found some roster balance for the first time since the 2013 offseason. Even after Wednesday's home loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit seems like it will be in the mix for a playoff spot for the rest of the season.

The roster is quite deep and has only a couple of spots where upgrades could be reasonably easy to acquire without sacrificing major assets. Still, team president and coach Stan Van Gundy should be looking to bolster his team if the opportunity arises. Experiencing the playoffs would be beneficial for the up-and-coming Pistons.

Backup Center 

Could a New York Knicks big man help out the Pistons?
Could a New York Knicks big man help out the Pistons?Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

With Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe on the roster, the backup center position may be one of the easiest to overlook on the roster.

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But it is a spot where the Pistons could stand an upgrade, and it would be a major benefit with some of the bulky front lines in the Eastern Conference.

Currently, Joel Anthony holds down the position, acting as the third-string center behind the two young bigs. He is a solid defender and rebounder, though he is one of the least talented offensive players ever.

He has lived up to his billing as an offensive non-factor, taking just 17 shots in 128 minutes in 2014-15. But his lack of effectiveness on the other end has been a letdown.

According to 82games.com, Anthony has been below average, giving up a player efficiency rating (PER) of 18.8 to opposing centers. They are scoring an average of 15.7 points per 36 minutes against him.

And they are almost exclusively backup centers.

He is playing only 6.4 minutes per night, so upgrading here is low on the priority list. But it would provide some insurance in the event of foul trouble against big teams such as the Chicago Bulls, the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards

The New York Knicks have both Cole Aldrich and Jason Smith on expiring deals. Either player would be an offensive upgrade over Anthony, and Aldrich is capable of defending at the rim.

For a protected second-round pick, either guy could be worth taking a flier on. 

Starting Small Forward  

The Pistons could stand a big upgrade at the small forward spot.
The Pistons could stand a big upgrade at the small forward spot.David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The only gaping hole for the Pistons is in the starting lineup at small forward—Josh Smith's former position. 

Smith never fit in the frontcourt next to Drummond and Monroe; his lack of a consistent outside jumper allowed opposing defenses to sag off him and congest the floor. They never got the spacing right, and the entire team suffered.

Now, Kyle Singler is starting in his place at the 3. He has a reliable jump shot and is currently hitting 41.2 percent of his threes. Unfortunately, he doesn't do very much else well, adding just 2.5 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game. His PER is well below the league average of 15 at 9.99, and it is also far below what he gives up to opposing small forwards14.7, per 82games.com

Singler has the talent to be an excellent piece of a bench rotation, but he is simply outmatched in the starting lineup almost every night. 

Ideally, Van Gundy could trade for a small forward who could start and contribute on both ends of the court. That could improve both the starting lineup and the bench, allowing Singler to take minutes from Caron Butler, who is in the midst of his worst NBA season.

One player who could fit is the Denver Nuggets' Wilson Chandler. He is better at creating his own shot than Singler, is an excellent rebounder for his position and is knocking down threes at roughly the league average. His contract is not fully guaranteed for the 2015-16 season, and Denver has shown it is open to dealing players. For the right price, he would be a good pickup for Van Gundy.

The other guy the Pistons should take a hard look at if he becomes available is the Miami Heat's Luol Deng. Miami is five games under .500 and clinging to the No. 7 seed in the East. It doesn't look talented enough to beat one of the top four seeds in a playoff series and could benefit from moving Deng, as examined by Bleacher Report's Tom Sunnergren.

Like Chandler, Deng is a strong two-way player with a reliable three-point shot. He has the length to bother opposing small forwards defensively, and he has the talent to spot up or facilitate as a secondary ball-handler on the other end.

Deng is on the books for just one more season at $10.2 million. Taking on that salary would cut into Detroit's cap space for this upcoming offseason but not necessarily eliminate it completely. For a protected first-round pick and expiring contracts, Deng or Chandler would greatly improve the Pistons' chances of a playoff berth.

Van Gundy should not part with too much in order to chase the final two playoff spots this year. But finding a starting small forward at a reasonable price would make Detroit a favorite to make the postseason.

All records and statistics accurate through January 15, 2014, and from NBA.com unless otherwise noted. Salary information courtesy of ShamSports.com.

Jakub Rudnik covers the Detroit Pistons as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.


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