The Detroit Pistons are considered to be buyers before the NBA trade deadline next month. What kind of players are they pursuing?
The Pistons are looking to add a shooting guard or small forward, according to Adrian Wojnarowski (via ESPN):
“Detroit, New Orleans, New York and Portland are a few of the teams most interested in upgrades, but the true list is much longer … Detroit has remained one of the most aggressive teams on the early market, reflective of the Stan Van Gundy regime’s desire to win now.”
Spot-up scoring has been one of their strengths as they average 1.06 PPP on this play type, which ranks No. 6 in the NBA. Their overall three-point percentage (38 percent) is the second-best in the Eastern Conference.
But it’s clear former lottery pick Stanley Johnson is better coming off the bench as a wing for Detroit.
While they might consider looking for a point guard (perhaps Jordan Clarkson or Kemba Walker make sense) we looked at the best available wing players who would bolster their roster.
Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
According to Wojnarowski, the Pistons already pursued Fournier but were not able to finalize a deal because they could not include the contract of injured guard Reggie Jackson.
However, the Magic are expected to continue listening to offers for the 25-year-old guard (via Basketball Insiders):
“There is little doubt the Magic are going to entertain the trade market fairly aggressively in the coming weeks, but the one thing that continues to be clear is they are not open to a fire sale with anyone.”
Joe Harris, Brooklyn Nets
Teams are reportedly “targeting the availability” of Brooklyn’s DeMarre Carroll. However, it would not be a surprise to learn that they are more interested in Joe Harris.
The 6-foot-6 wing has a cheap contract ($1.52 million) compared to Carroll ($14.8 million ) and he’s an accurate shooter from three-point range. Harris has an expiring contract, which means a team will have an advantage renegotiating a new deal with him during the offseason.
His effective field goal percentage (61.1 percent) on spot-up possessions ranks Top 10 in the NBA. Harris is a strong shooter on non-corner three-pointers, as he ranks Top 15 for field goal percentage (40.1 percent) on his above-the-break attempts.
Wayne Ellington, Miami Heat
Ellington has emerged as one of the best sharpshooters in the league and become one of the more desired players on the trade market (via Sun-Sentinel):
“There has been outside interest, as the NBA continues to prioritize 3-point shooting. It could come down to whether the Heat believe Ellington’s Early-Bird Rights will be enough to allow them to keep him in the offseason. Otherwise, he stands as one of the Heat’s more attractive trade commodities.”
Much like Fournier, Ellington is one of the best spot-up scorers in the game. He has averaged 1.24 points per possession on this play type, which currently ranks Top 10 in the league.
Only two players in the NBA (Klay Thompson and Robert Covington) have connected on more catch-and-shoot threes.
Among those who have played at least as many games as Ellington, only three players (Kyle Korver, Dwight Powell and LeBron James) have a higher effective field goal percentage.
Wesley Matthews, Dallas Mavericks
Matthews has one of the hardest possible contracts to trade (via Basketball Insiders):
“Mavericks guard Wes Matthews has one more year left on his deal… a player option worth $18.62 million, an option he is likely to pick up. The uncertainty of that option makes trading Matthews a tough sell in the NBA where teams don’t value the uncertainty positively.”
But among those with as many catch-and-shoot opportunities from long distance, only three players (Ellington, Thompson and Paul George) have been more accurate.
He ranks Top 5 this season on total points scored on spot-up possessions. Matthews sits behind only Jayson Tatum for more points per possession (1.18 PPP) for most efficient players among those who have had at least as many opportunities on the play type.
Matthews is the most accurate shooter (54.5 percent) on three-point attempts from the right corner. The next-best player is Detroit’s Tobias Harris, which would be a lethal combo for the Pistons. Anthony Tolliver of the Pistons also ranks in the Top 10 from this zone.
His efficiency on short midrange shots is also one of the best in the league. The 31-year-old is shooting 32-of-65 (49.2 percent) on shots between eight feet and sixteen feet of the basket, which ranks No. 6 overall.
Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks
“League sources say the right combination of ending contracts and a first-round pick, even one highly protected might be enough to get Bazemore in trade, especially for a team looking for a scoring punch. Of all of the players likely to be moved this trade season, Bazemore may be one of the harder players to trade, but if a team were serious about trying to get him, the word is he could be had and for not a lot in return.”
His effective field goal percentage (58.8 percent) on spot-up possessions ranks Top 15 among those with as many attempts.
On the other end of the ball, Bazemore has the highest steal rate (33.8 percent) among those who have played at least as many minutes so far this year.