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Detroit Pistons: Winners and losers from James Wiseman trade

After nearly being canceled, the Detroit Pistons’ four-team trade is expected to go through. There was doubt it would go through after the Warriors found issues with Gary Payton’s physical. However, on Sunday, Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Warriors would complete the trade. In the deal, the Pistons gave up forwards Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox to get former 2nd overall pick, James Wiseman. Wiseman has struggled mightily in Golden State, but the Pistons hope with a change of scenery, he can flash the talent that made him such a high pick. Let’s see which players on the Pistons roster benefit and don’t from the deadline move.

Detroit Piston winners and losers in the trade:

Winner: Isaiah Livers

This trade is a huge vote of confidence in the second-year forward, Isaiah Livers. Despite being a second-round pick, the Pistons value Livers and his play style over Bey as they look to turn the corner. Bey is a more gifted scorer and creator, but Livers’s well-rounded game gave him the edge. Livers is also a talented shooter, but unlike Bey, he does not need the ball in his hands to free up touches for other players.

Livers also is a much better defender than Bey. Livers has much better lateral quickness and length to stay in front of opposing players. On top of that, he communicates well on that end, elevating his teammates. Isaiah Livers does not have the offensive upside of a player like Saddiq Bey, but now, the path is clear for him to prove he can be a great role player to play around Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and their 2023 draft pick.

Loser: Marvin Bagley III

In 2022, the Pistons acquired another athletic, former 2nd overall pick big man, Marvin Bagley III. Once he arrived, Bagley provided a lob threat for Pistons’ guards due to his great leaping ability. After his 25-game tryout, Bagley resigned in Detroit on a three-year deal. This year, Bagley has not had the same success as he has battled injuries all season. When he’s been on the floor, Bagley is effective on the offensive end, but his lack of floor spacing and defensive ability have limited his impact.

Now, one year after he was acquired, the Pistons have acquired another athletic, rangy center. With Jalen Duren‘s early success, plus Isaiah Stewart’s versatility and defensive chops, Bagley will have to compete for the backup center role with Wiseman. Offensively, their skill sets are very similar with Bagley having slightly better hands and touch; however, defense is where both players will set themselves apart. Both have struggled in their respective careers, but Wiseman is younger, bigger, and moves better on the perimeter. If Bagley can’t improve defensively and beat out Wiseman, he could be on the move again next trade deadline.

Winner: Isaiah Stewart

Since Bagley went down with an injury, Isaiah Stewart was forced out of playing power forward to play backup center minutes. Since he was forced to make that move, Stewart has looked much less comfortable. At the center, Stewart’s lack of verticality and poor hands make him much less effective as he struggles to finish in the dunker spot. Instead, Stewart is much better playing with another big where he can play on the perimeter instead. At power forward, Stewart can space the floor with his shooting and has even shown some ability to put the ball on the floor.

With Wiseman in the fold, Stewart can now play exclusively at the power forward. Stewart is much better offensively at the four as he can operate as a floor spacer who can occasionally attack closeouts. Plus, the Pistons get a nice boost rebounding the ball and defensively. The addition of Wiseman will allow the double big experiment to continue in Detroit aligning much better with Stewart’s skillset.

Winner: Pistons’ young guards

Stewart was not the only one with struggled when he was at center. When Stewart was the lone big, the Pistons’ guards struggled without Bagley or Duren on the floor. His inability to threaten defenses as a finisher near the rim affected Killian Hayes and Jaden Ivey as well. Without the lob threat or finisher in the dunker spot, opposing centers focused on stopping the young guards. This made it much harder for the guards to finish at the rim and their ability to run in the pick-and-roll.

Now, with Wiseman on the team, Ivey and Hayes should always have one of Wiseman, Duren, or Bagley on the floor. Wiseman is an elite rim runner who should make it easier for the guards whether they elect to pass or shoot.

Loser: Hamidou Diallo

The one benefactor of the Bagley injury has been Hamidou Diallo. After being on the edge of the rotation, Diallo has emerged and played some of his best basketball since Bagley went down. With limited depth at big, the Pistons have used Diallo in the dunker spot as an undersized big. Despite only standing 6’5, this has been the perfect role for the former shooting guard. Diallo is a tremendous athlete who rebounds and finishes at the rim well for a guard. The main thing holding him back has been Diallo’s lack of jump shooting as a shooting guard.

As a big, Diallo rebounds well enough to hold his own and has enough athleticism to finish at the rim, and at power forward, his lack of shooting is much less noticeable. The good news for Diallo is he has carved out a future role in the NBA, but unfortunately for him, it may not be with the Pistons going forward. With all the resources devoted to bigs, it will be much harder for Diallo to find minutes as the only non-shooter on the floor. Diallos is a good rotational piece, but he likely won’t be a good fit for the roster as Duren and Wiseman need as many shooters as possible around them.

All stats via Basketball Reference

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