Breaking down the Detroit Pistons roster after NBA draft, before free agency

We try valiantly to keep up with Troy Weaver

Detroit Pistons' general manager Troy Weaver speaks July 30, 2021, in Detroit after the 2021 NBA draft.
Detroit Pistons' general manager Troy Weaver speaks July 30, 2021, in Detroit after the 2021 NBA draft. (The Associated Press 2021)

DETROIT – OK, so who is actually on the Detroit Pistons’ roster?

Last year, we had to ask this question because general manager Troy Weaver made so many trades, free agent signings and draft picks that it was hard to keep up. Weaver is taking a much different approach to this offseason -- at least so far.

The Pistons traded Mason Plumlee and made four picks on draft night. They waived three players and extended qualifying offers to three others. That’s a calm week for the most active GM in the league.

Now, with the draft in the rearview mirror and free agency approaching, who is actually on this team?

Here’s a breakdown of the current Pistons roster, as far as we can tell:

Returning and currently on roster

Killian Hayes

The No. 7 pick in last year’s draft missed most of his rookie season because of injury, and he’s being largely overshadowed by two All-Rookie teammates and a new crop of draft picks.

Hayes is an elite passer -- he averaged 5.3 assists per game in 25.8 minutes -- and an improving shooter. He turned 20 years old last week, so the Pistons certainly haven’t lost any enthusiasm for him after just 26 games.

Saddiq Bey

The most consistent contributor among Detroit’s rookies in 2020-2021 was Bey, who appeared in 70 games, shot 38% with high usage from three-point range and also helped on the boards.

Bey was named to the NBA All-Rookie team after averaging 12.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, and his shooting numbers should only improve with more time alongside Hayes and Cade Cunningham on the court.

Isaiah Stewart

Weaver’s willingness to move down 20 spots in the second round just to get Plumlee off the roster shows how dedicated he is to finding minutes for Stewart. The 20-year-old blossomed as a legitimate stretch five late in his rookie season and ultimately averaged 7.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game while shooting 55.3% from the floor.

Stewart has an improving three-point shot and does a lot of dirty work for the Pistons. He’s going to be a fan favorite as a full-time starter this year.

Jerami Grant

When Weaver gave Grant $20 million per year last offseason, it was framed as an overpay to lure a solid player to a non-free agent destination. Then, Grant averaged 22.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists, erasing any doubt that he’s worth every penny.

Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant, left, drives against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III during the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Early in the season, Grant’s usage was unbelievably high because the Pistons didn’t really have other offensive options. But even when Bey, Stewart and others started to contribute, Grant still felt like the go-to scorer.

The addition of Cunningham and return of a healthy Hayes will allow Grant to play off the ball more often, which should be a positive for him and the Pistons. He’s still among the favorites to lead the team in scoring.

Josh Jackson

Jackson was another solid offseason signing for Weaver, as he came back home to Michigan and averaged 13.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He was a bit of a volume scorer, though, especially later in the season.

This year, Jackson probably won’t average 11.4 field goal attempts per game, and shooting 30% from beyond the arc doesn’t make him a perfect fit with Cunningham and Hayes. But he’s still a solid option off the bench who can get to the basket and create his own shot.

Sekou Doumbouya

The last man standing from the pre-Weaver Pistons is only 20 years old, but this feels like an important season for Doumbouya.

In 94 games across his first two seasons, Doumbouya is shooting just 38.4% from the floor, averaging more turnovers than assists and struggling on both ends of the floor.

Detroit isn’t giving up on Doumbouya, but he’s been passed over by half a dozen players on the priority list and could become another casualty of Weaver’s wheeling and dealing.

Jahlil Okafor

Someone has to back up Stewart, and unless Weaver signs another free agent center, that someone is Okafor. He didn’t play a major role last season, appearing in 27 games and averaging 5.4 points and 2.4 rebounds.

Okafor was extremely efficient from the floor, shooting 61.8%, and that makes him a decent rotational piece.

Rodney McGruder

McGruder is on the team right now, but he’s definitely a candidate to be waived in the coming weeks. If he’s on the roster beyond Aug. 15, the Pistons have to pay him $5 million in 2021-2022. Some of Weaver’s other moves suggest he could opt to save the cap space.

While averaging 12.1 minutes across 16 games for the Pistons last season, McGruder scored 5.7 points while shooting 52.9% from the floor and 45.8% from three.

Draft picks

From left, Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver, owner Tom Gores, draft picks Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Livers, Luka Garza, Balsa Koprivica and head coach Dwane Casey attend the press conference on July 30, 2021 at the Pistons Performance Center in Detroit, Michigan. (2021 Getty Images)

Cade Cunningham

The No. 1 overall pick and new face of the franchise, Cunningham arrives in Detroit with massive expectations. He was the consensus top prospect in the draft after averaging 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman at Oklahoma State.

At 6-foot-8, Cunningham has elite vision and strong ball handling skills. His size and ability to score at all three levels could transform the Pistons offense as soon as he steps on the court.

More importantly, the addition of Cunningham could signal a massive jump in offensive numbers for Bey, Hayes and any of the team’s catch-and-shoot options. He can find teammates off the dribble with both hands or get to the basket on his own. Detroit hasn’t had a talent like him in decades.

Isaiah Livers

From Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor to Detroit, Livers has done the full Michigan tour throughout his basketball career.

After four seasons with the Wolverines, Livers developed into a 43.1% three-point shooter who can defend, rebound and finish at the rim. He’s not explosive off the dribble, and injuries have always been a concern, but on paper, Livers looks like a perfect player to pair with Cunningham around the arc.

Luka Garza

Can Garza defend NBA bigs? The answer to that question will determine whether the National Player of the Year in college hoops becomes a contributor or castoff at the NBA level.

Garza’s body of work speaks for itself: 24 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 58.5% from two-point range and 39.7% beyond the arc in 62 games the last two seasons. He was one of the most dominant players in college basketball even before he developed a reliable three-point shot, and then he drilled 44% from that range as a senior.

On defense, Garza averaged 1.6 blocks per game, but he was eaten alive by talented scorers, such as Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson. If he can just be average on that end, the Pistons will get great value out of this late-second-round pick.

Balsa Koprivica

Koprivica is more of a typical big-bodied center, and he averaged 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 19.5 minutes per game at Florida State.

His mid-range jumper isn’t bad, and Koprivica shot 60% overall. As the No. 57 overall pick in the draft, he’s likely heading for a two-day contract.

Restricted free agents

Hamidou Diallo

He only played 20 games for the Pistons following a trade with Oklahoma City, but Diallo certainly made his mark. He averaged 11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game and shot 39% from beyond the arc.

Detroit extended a qualifying offer to the 23-year-old and hopes to keep him on for at least another season. He would be an exciting player to hang onto long term.

Frank Jackson

Jackson signed a two-way deal with the Pistons just after Christmas. By the end of the season, he was a valuable part of the rotation.

In 40 games, Jackson averaged 9.8 points and 2.2 rebounds while shooting 45.7% from the floor and 40.7% from three-point range. He’s only 23 years old and can score at the basket and beyond the arc.

Weaver did an excellent job identifying Jackson after he was waived by the Thunder. Now, he’s a priority to bring back this offseason.

Saben Lee

Weaver traded into the second round of the 2020 draft to select Lee with the No. 38 overall pick, and his stats don’t jump off the page.

Lee averaged 5.6 points, 3.6 assists and 2 rebounds per game as a rookie, but he shot 47.1% from the floor and ran the offense well after Hayes’ injury. He’s one of the fastest players on the team, but still manages to take care of the basketball.

Detroit extended a qualifying offer to Lee and hopes to add him to a deep crop of guards heading into the season.

Waived

Cory Joseph

The Pistons would have had to pay Joseph $12.6 million to keep him on the roster for 2021-2022, so it was an obvious choice to waive him ahead of that deadline.

There’s a chance he could re-sign with the team after averaging 12 points and 5.5 assist per game while shooting over 50% in limited action.

Tyler Cook

In 28 games late last season, Cook averaged 5.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game for the Pistons. He shot 68% from the floor, but he’s never been a threat from three-point range, which limits his offensive ceiling.

With more of a focus on surrounding Cunningham and Hayes with shooters, waiving Cook made sense.

Deividas Sirvydis

The Sirvydis era was short and unremarkable in Detroit, as he averaged just 6.7 minutes in 20 games last season. He’s only 21 years old, so there’s still plenty of opportunity for him to land with an NBA organization after being waived. Maybe that team will even be the Pistons -- who knows what Weaver has in mind?

Free agents

Wayne Ellington

Ellington was the best three-point shooter on the team last season, making 42.2% while shooting six threes per game. The 33-year-old is already being linked to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency.

Dennis Smith Jr.

When the Pistons announced qualifying offers had been extended to Diallo, Jackson and Lee, they didn’t include Smith. It’s not a surprise because they would have had to offer him $7 million for 2021-2022, and that’s a bit steep for someone who probably would have been the fourth or fifth guard in the rotation.

Smith was acquired in the Derrick Rose trade and played some solid minutes for the Pistons in 20 games, but he’s not part of Weaver’s long-term plan.

Dead money

Blake Griffin

This is the final year that Griffin’s contract will haunt the Pistons, but it will do so to the tune of $29.7 million.

Dewayne Dedmon

More like Ded money, am I right? The Pistons took on Dedmon’s contract after the draft last year and waived him four days later. They stretched his contact and will owe him $2,866,667 each of the next four seasons.


About the Author:

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.