The Detroit Pistons had a very quiet offseason. Many fans wanted the team to go all-in on a rebuild or move some of their bad contracts. However, the direction that they took shows that the higher-ups of the organization do not feel the same way as the fans.
Here are three takeaways from the Pistons’ offseason:
3. Ed Stefanski Knows What He is Doing
The hiring of Ed Stefanski was uninspiring to many Pistons fans. He had a long career as an executive in the NBA, but nothing that he did really stood out. He was a part of the New Jersey Nets front office when they were one of the better teams in the East in the early-2000s, but other than that, there isn’t much to talk about with his career. His title is “senior advisor,” but Tom Gores hired him to lead the front office and bring in the right people, and that is exactly what he has done.
He started off the offseason by hiring the reigning Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey. Casey is a solid coach who is an upgrade over Stan Van Gundy. He followed that up by drafting Bruce Brown Jr. and Khyri Thomas in the draft. The Pistons went into the draft with just a 2nd round pick due to trading their 1st rounder in the Blake Griffin trade.
They acquired Thomas by giving the Philadelphia 76ers a future 2nd round pick and they selected Bruce Brown Jr. with their own 2nd round pick. Both players are projected to be NBA-ready defenders who have athleticism and some upside offensively. These picks represent a bit of a different approach to the draft from Stan Van Gundy who opted for players in the 2nd round that were viewed as more NBA-ready with less upside.
Some of the hires that Stefanski made aren’t household names, but very solid, young executives. He hired Malik Rose from the Atlanta Hawks to be the Assistant GM in charge of player development. He poached Sammy Gelfand, a highly regarded analytics guru, from the Golden State Warriors to improve the Pistons analytics department. He then hired Sachin Gupta, another highly-regarded analytics guru, to be the Assitant GM in charge of Analytics.
The Pistons took a different approach to their front office after the Stan Van Gundy as President and Coach structure did not work out as well as they had hoped. They went for young, up-and-coming executives to be Assistant GMs in charge of various departments who could learn under Ed Stefanski over the next few years. Obviously, results have to come, but all the hires look very solid on paper.
On top of all of the solid additions to the front office, the Pistons brought in skills guru Tim Grgurich to their coaching staff and brought back former trainer Arnie Kander as an advisor with the sole purpose of injury prevention for Reggie Jackson and Blake Griffin.
When it came to free agency, he added a few solid players with limited cap room and kept they Pistons under the luxury tax. Those 3 additions were Glenn Robinson III, Jose Calderon, and Zaza Pachulia. Calderon and Pachulia are solid veterans who have established what they can bring to a team. Glenn Robinson III is a young player with some upside who can contribute now as a ‘3-and-D’ wing.
Like I said above, results are important and none of these flashy moves on the surface will mean anything if the Pistons don’t win. But the early returns on Ed Stefanski leading the front office have been very solid.
Next Up: Takeaway 2