5 trades to help Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons finish their wall
The Detroit Pistons may need some help for their playoff push. Here are five players that head coach Stan Van Gundy could use to finally finish his wall.
After reaching the Eastern Conference Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons in 2016, the Detroit Pistons haven’t exactly elevated under head coach Stan Van Gundy in 2016-17. Detroit finds itself again in position to be the No. 8 seed, but are four games under .500 as of Feb. 7 (24-28).
While they do play respectable defense for Van Gundy,10th in defensive efficiency, that likely won’t be good enough to make the Pistons anything more than Cleveland Cavaliers mincemeat in the first round of the 2017 Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Sure, there a couple of internal avenues to make the Pistons better before the trade deadline, but maybe it’s time to finish Van Gundy’s Wall (NSFW). Here are five players Van Gundy can acquire via trade that can make the Pistons’ Wall most glorious.
Point Guard, New Orleans Pelicans
Look. When we think about forming a basketball wall, our natural instinct is to think about improved frontcourt defense. Well, a wall is only as strong as its weakest brick. Defensively, the Pistons are not getting it done at point guard.
Reggie Jackson and Beno Udrih are both worse than -2.0 in Defensive Box Plus-Minus this season. Basically, the Pistons get beat off the dribble far too many times by opposing point guards. While he is often-injured, New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday could be that patch in Van Gundy’s Wall.
Holiday is in the final year of his deal with the Pelicans. The Western Conference hasn’t been kind to the former All-Star point guard with the Philadelphia 76ers. Maybe bringing him back into the Eastern Conference could ignite Holiday for a solid post-season push for the Pistons?
Maybe the talented but inconsistent Stanley Johnson, shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and salary filler for Holiday and a future first-round pick might work? Maybe Jackson and Johnson for Holiday, filler, and a future first-round pick is a better offer? Either way, Holiday is tough player and would succeed as a backcourt cornerstone in Van Gundy’s Wall.
Power Forward, Orlando Magic
What were the Orlando Magic thinking in trading for Serge Ibaka on an expiring contract? They wanted another big for new head coach Frank Vogel to split finite minutes with? Ibaka may like Central Florida, but he’ll win more in Detroit and get to be part of a wall.
Van Gundy cut his teeth on defense as a coach. He’d be getting an outstanding rim protector at the power forward position in Ibaka. While he could clog the paint with center Andre Drummond, Ibaka has noticeable range as a shooter. He could play outside of the paint on offense and rim protect on defense. Ibaka is also mobile enough to defend in space and pair with Drummond.
Van Gundy has shown over the years that he will overpay to keep a player he likes. He’d get an opportunity to see what Ibaka can offer pre-sale this summer. Van Gundy can kick the tires on Ibaka to see if he really is Pistons Wall material. He can still go vertical, but can he still cover the territory required to keep opposing stretch fours from going off?
The Magic need shooting, so maybe Caldwell-Pope and Aron Baynes of Boban Marjanovic for salary filler in exchange for Ibaka straight up could work? Although Caldwell-Pope has been Detroit’s most reliable player this season, so Detroit may need something else was well. Both Caldwell-Pope and Ibaka are hitting free agency this upcoming summer any way. Orlando gets graciously smaller and Van Gundy gets one step closer to forming his wall.
Point Guard, San Antonio Spurs
For as much fun as it would be to see Washington Wizards star point guard John Wall as a prominent piece of Van Gundy’s Wall, he just doesn’t seem like that kind of wall guy. Point guard is a weak point in the wall, so let’s bring in an underrated backup point guard in Patty Mills to fix this thing.
Mills comes from the elite basketball culture with the San Antonio Spurs. It will take a lot for Van Gundy to pry Mills away from San Antonio. The Spurs know that Tony Parker’s best days are behind him. Mills is incredibly useful with the second unit but Dejounte Murray is coming along quickly and he’s the future for San Antonio.
Given that Mills will be a free agent this summer, the Spurs may not be able to get a ton from the Pistons for him in a trade. Perhaps the Spurs want some frontcourt depth for their playoff push. Or maybe some youth for their future
Aron Baynes or Ish Smith would work for Mills and filler. Van Gundy isn’t going to like that, as Baynes and Smith already make his wall pretty good. However, backcourt defensive deficiencies could undermine Van Gundy’s wall and can’t have that. Stanley Johnson straight up would also work, and Mills would look really good in that Pistons wall.
Power Forward, Chicago Bulls
If we’re talking about forming a wall, Van Gundy will need a bruiser at power forward to pair alongside Drummond. No, this isn’t going to be the fiasco of Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith. It’ll be a better wall because Taj Gibson has to be a part of it.
Gibson has been with the Chicago Bulls for far too long. He has to be GarPaxed out. Gibson has seen the Bulls not listen to head coach Fred Hoiberg, lived through the entirety of the Tom Thibodeau era, and even saw the tail end of Vinny Del Negro in the Windy City.
Basically, Gibson can come off the bench and be that rotational force of reckoning for the Pistons. Every time he takes the court for Van Gundy, the Pistons would be a snap of the fingers from going into full wall mode.
Gibson is in the final year of his deal with the Bulls. Given that he might be an important locker room figure for the team, Van Gundy may have to pay a steeper price than expected to pry Gibson away from the Bulls. However, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Van Gundy fleece GarPax in a one-sided trade. Any guy that has thought about shooting a 3-pointer in his life would be a welcomed addition to the Hoiberg Bulls.
Power Forward, Memphis Grizzlies
If Drummond is the cornerstone of Van Gundy’s Wall, Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph is the concrete that can hold it all together. He has the bite of the barbed wire atop of the wall, but Randolph’s not a jumper, so he’s the substance that keeps it all together and forms the wall’s identity.
Together, Drummond and Randolph could be the reincarnation of the Bad Boy Pistons. Wouldn’t that be kind of what Van Gundy wants his wall to embody. Opposing teams will think twice about coming in the Pistons’ paint. A Drummond/Randolph frontcourt tandem is borderline frightening.
Spacing will be absolutely an issue, but that’s not what walls are about. They are about protecting the things we care the most about and keeping things out that don’t belong there. For the Pistons, they love that hoop and they don’t want to see basketballs going trough it. A Grit N’ Grind Grizzly is exactly what Van Gundy needs in his wall.
Figuring out what Memphis head coach David Fizdale would want for Randolph would be tricky. He’s evolving the team towards a 3-and-D style, so maybe Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, and filler would be enough to get Randolph out of Memphis. Keep in mind that Randolph is a Michigan native. He needs to be in this wall.
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