Blake Griffin trade was not just a Stan Van Gundy decision for Pistons

Blake Griffin trade was not just a Stan Van Gundy decision for Pistons


Blake Griffin trade was not just a Stan Van Gundy decision for Pistons

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Now that the Detroit Pistons have parted ways with Stan Van Gundy, it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback and second-guess his decisions.

Many will point to their recent trade with the Los Angeles Clippers for Blake Griffin as a move that the former president of basketball operations and head coach made that locked Detroit into this current roster and payroll disaster.

But according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, everyone in Detroit’s front office agreed on the Griffin deal.

Jake Fischer outlined a similar background in January (via Sports Illustrated):

“General manager Jeff Bower and three other basketball personnel were briefed on the discussions with the Clippers. That group analyzed Griffin film dating back to his MVP-caliber season in 2013–14, digesting how his game has transitioned from all athleticism and power to include more finesse and shooting, attempting to envision his fit alongside their incumbent All-Star big in [Andre] Drummond.”

Griffin’s efficiency on post-up plays after the trade ranked No. 7 overall (minimum: 100 possessions) in the Eastern Conference, per Synergy Sports. His points per possession on both one-on-one opportunities and spot-up plays were in the Top 20 in the East (among those with at least 50 possessions).

The Pistons, meanwhile, have a solid defensive foundation with Griffin and Drummond in the mix moving forward.

When both were on the court, their defense allowed 102.8 points per 100 possessions, which would have been the fifth-best in the league over the course of a full season, as Paul Hembekides pointed out.

Drummond averaged 16.8 rebounds per 36 minutes when Griffin was not on the court for the Pistons. But when he was on the court, he actually pulled in more boards with 18.1 rebounds per 36.

Another player who benefited from playing alongside Griffin was Reggie Bullock. He averaged 13.6 points per 36 without Griffin, but 15.8 points per 36 with the forward. Bullock was 32-for-60 (53.3 percent) from three-point range after passes from Griffin, significantly higher than his season accuracy of 44.5 percent.

Detroit had four lineups (minimum: 45 minutes) that had a positive net rating last season; Griffin featured in both of their best defensive lineups.

They were able to outscore opponents by 16 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court with Drummond and Bullock as well as Ish Smith and Luke Kennard. 

The Pistons are admittedly not in great shape moving forward. But they are far from a lost cause, too, and the addition of Griffin is likely better than any of the targets they could have added in free agency.

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