featured-image

Pistons add 7-foot-2 Bol in a deal too good to pass up

The Pistons got still younger, surely bigger and certainly a lot more mysterious with the trade that brings Bol Bol to Detroit.

And it’s the mystery part of it that made it an irresistibly worthwhile deal for the Pistons. When there is no discernible downside to a trade, then the upside – no matter how likely or unlikely it is to be realized – demands it be made.

The 7-foot-2 Bol, son of ex-NBA giant Manute Bol, will get opportunity with the Pistons that simply wasn’t available to him on a Denver team with a deep frontcourt and realistic designs on a playoff run behind reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the likelihood of injured star Jamal Murray’s return.

The deal cost the Pistons Rodney McGruder and the least valuable of the four second-round picks they obtained from Brooklyn in the Sekou Doumbouya trade in September. McGruder is the ultimate solid citizen whose mere presence taught Dwane Casey’s young roster lessons in professionalism that will linger. But getting a shot to land a player who was once in the running to be the No. 1 overall pick in the Zion Williamson-Ja Morant draft is more value than the Pistons could have imagined when they re-signed McGruder to a bargain deal last summer.

Bol’s shooting touch and ball skills are rare for a big man, let alone a 7-foot-2 big man with a 7-foot-7 wingspan and corresponding shot-blocking potential. Defense always will be a question mark for Bol with his strength concerns, but the ceiling is high enough on offense to overwhelm other issues.

Bol has played sparingly, a total of 328 minutes spread across 53 games in his two-plus seasons with Denver. Per 36 minutes, he’s averaged 15.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.0 blocks while shooting .478 overall and .378 from the 3-point arc. There’s something work exploring in all of that. In eight G League games last season, Bol averaged 12.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 19 minutes a game.

As for the second-round pick, the one the Pistons are reportedly sending to Denver is Brooklyn’s 2022 pick. Barring injuries to Brooklyn’s superstar core, that pick almost surely will be in the 50s.

With both Jerami Grant and Kelly Olynyk currently out, the Pistons should be able to find immediate minutes for Bol at either center or power forward, the latter position where he’s spent the bulk of his NBA minutes. Isaiah Stewart and second-round rookie Luka Garza are the only centers available on the roster. Trey Lyles has been serving as Stewart’s primary backup most often since Olynyk’s early-November knee injury.

Bol will become a restricted free agent next summer, but the Pistons – who project to have as much or more cap space than any NBA team – will be in the driver’s seat to retain him if Bol shows them enough over the second half of the season. All of that made it a deal too good to pass up.