Pistons mailbag: Potential for a second bubble, Detroit's draft prospects
While the 22 teams in the Orlando Bubble work their way toward finishing the regular season and hurtling toward the playoffs, the other eight teams eliminated ahead of the NBA restart continue to wait.
And wait. And wait.
In the five months since the season was suspended on March 11, those eight teams have been limited to working in their home markets and doing some smaller workouts, but not full 5-on-5. It’s been a point of contention, as some of the eight teams — including the Pistons — have advocated for having full-squad workouts. That’s even the preference over a second bubble idea, with those eight teams playing in a scaled-down summer league.
The preliminary indications are that the playoffs could end in October, with the draft and free agency coming soon after. The next season could start in December, if all goes well.
That could mean a layoff of almost nine months without competitive basketball for the eight teams. Even some of the teams that entered the bubble with losing records are reaping the benefits of the extra practices and additional games to help build team chemistry, especially for younger players.
The Suns, who are 6-0 record since the restart, are one of the biggest beneficiaries. Even teams such as the Pelicans and Grizzlies, who may not make the playoffs.
There is a benefit to playing, even if it’s not for a championship.
This edition of the Pistons mailbag looks at a potential second bubble for the eight teams and the Pistons’ outlook in the draft.
Q: I completely missed the reasoning on the idea of a second bubble. Would it be for a play-in? Just....why? – @CallMeDjm
A: Though some teams have pushed to have a second bubble, possibly in Chicago, there’s not much support from the players association and the NBA league office, which is just trying to pull off having a first bubble in Orlando. When some of the kinks are worked out, there could be a blueprint for another bubble, but the purpose would be having a competitive scenario for the young players, including Sekou Doumbouya, Svi Mykhailiuk and others.
There is no play-in; rather, it would offer some of the opportunity that the Summer League in Las Vegas generally provides. It’s not for star players, but it gives the young guys a chance to start, play extended minutes and to play in late-game situations.
Typically, they don’t get those chances, with the veterans eating up many of those minutes and reps in regular-season games. It has been beneficial in past years, with Doumbouya missing all of Summer League last year because of an injury. That could have helped some of his acclimation to the NBA as a rookie.
Q: If there is a second bubble, will the Pistons bring their whole roster? Or just the youth and extra signings that fill out the roster? — @SeanCarmody81
A: Any competition before next season almost certainly would exclude veterans such as Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and maybe even Luke Kennard. With a risk of injury — especially for players with lengthy injury histories — there really isn’t a point. Even Christian Wood, who is a free agent, wouldn’t play.
Most of the benefit would be for the younger players and for some players in the G League to get a look as well. The more time that guys like Bruce Brown and Khyri Thomas can get, the easier it will be for new general manager Troy Weaver to assess their value and assemble the nucleus for years to come.
They could take a look at some of their developmental players in extended playing time and under different game conditions, against a higher level of competition. There aren’t many opportunities like that outside of Summer League.
Q: Are there any lingering injury concerns for next year with any of the roster, especially for Blake Griffin? – @Spizzly1
A: From all indications, Griffin should return at full strength when next season begins. He’s had plenty of time to recuperate. He may not return at the same All-NBA level as he did in 2018-19, but he will be a welcome addition to the starting lineup after playing in only 18 games this season.
Kennard said that he was ready to return to the lineup when the season was suspended, so his knee tendinitis may not be a lingering issue, if he maintains a reasonable regimen.
Aside from those, there weren’t any other significant injuries.
Q: Who are you looking at with the 9th pick Rod? – @Charlottean28
A: The Pistons won’t drop to ninth, but I get the sarcasm. The draft lottery hasn’t been kind to the Pistons, except for the draft of which we will not speak. They would be in a good position if they stay in the top five, but even falling a couple of spots wouldn’t be horrible.
I’ve said that I like Tyrese Haliburton as an option. He doesn’t have the same flash as LaMelo Ball or maybe even Killian Hayes, but he’s a solid shooter and can play either guard spot. That’s not a bad consolation prize if they fall to sixth or seventh.
The top of the draft doesn’t have can’t-miss options like some previous years, so just getting a solid prospect out of this draft would be a win for the Pistons.