Instant Reaction: Detroit Pistons proclaim Playoff intentions with Bogdanovic trade

Detroit Pistons G Cade Cunningham and Utah Jazz F Bojan Bogdanovic (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons G Cade Cunningham and Utah Jazz F Bojan Bogdanovic (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

Masqueraded behind investments in young lottery talent during the draft is a legitimate intention to reach the 2022 postseason on the behalf of the Detroit Pistons. That was amplified on Thursday morning when the Athletic’s Shams Charania and James Edwards III reported that Detroit would send Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee to Utah for shooting specialist Bojan Bogdanović.

A 6-foot-7 forward of Croatian descent, Bogdanović is making just under $20 million in the 2022-23 season. He’s coming off an 18-point-per-game season in which he shot 38.7% on 6.8 3-pointers per game. Per Basketball Index, he also ranked in the 90th percentile in rim shot making, largely off savvy screens and cuts that he uses to free himself up due to his lack of burst.

Unless there is some unreported draft capital involved, the deal doesn’t seem to benefit Utah much unless the team was truly dying to discard more veterans and buy into its tank. But for the Detroit Pistons, this transaction signals a clear-cut intention to vie for one of the NBA’s Play-In Tournament positions at the very least.

Bogdanović rounds out the Detroit Pistons rotation with complementary vets.

This isn’t the only veteran addition the Detroit Pistons made this offseason. The team brought in center Nerlens Noel and combo guard Alec Burks from the New York Knicks in what outwardly seemed like a cap-shaving deal for Leon Rose. In reality, it’s a commitment to a new direction in Detroit, where former No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham is the leader of a Playoff core.

Although he struggled earlier in the season, Cade turned a corner in the new year, averaging 18.8 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.1 rebounds along with some impressive defensive numbers through the final 39 games of his rookie campaign. He proved himself a worthy top pick and someone who can lead the Pistons back to a winning culture both on and off the court.

By trading for Bogdanović, at a low cost, might I add, General Manager Troy Weaver is setting the tone for this team with a clear message: ‘We don’t have to sacrifice competing now to let our young core grow for later.’

Veteran snipers like Bogdanović and Burks make the game easier for Cunningham and this year’s No. 5 pick, Jaden Ivey out of Purdue. The best way to set forth with a team headlined by two talented, albeit inexperienced ball-handlers is to put complementary pieces around them so they can advance development. With these kinds of players surrounding them, Ivey and Cade will learn how to take advantage of their rim pressure, scoring gravity and passing talent.

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While the Eastern Conference is as competitive as its ever been, the Detroit Pistons have a serious shot at being a frisky team. If everything breaks right, it wouldn’t be hard to envision them competing in the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament at the end of the season.