Detroit at Phoenix
Time: 9 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: DET -6.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Phoenix Suns have been mired in a horrible season, but made a clutch move at the trade deadline in acquiring Orlando Magic point guard and No. 10 overall pick in 2014 Elfrid Payton, for the lost cost of a second round pick. Phoenix now possibly has obtained its point guard of the future, though the list of black marks on Elfrid’s resume do abound. Magic analysts cited his poor defense and overall poor basketball IQ as ultimately irresolvable for the Orlando team, and it certainly did not defend well. Payton now transitions to a Suns team, however, which also has been poor defensively.
Phoenix allows 112.6 points per game while scoring just 104.4 itself. No team surrenders more buckets than the Suns, so can Payton manage to make that defense any worse? Perhaps he gets energized playing with his new team and star shooting guard Devin Booker, who is inarguably better than every talent Payton shared the court with while in Orlando. The Suns now have a really intriguing backcourt, and the Magic simply are trying to shed the team of what it had from the Rob Hennigan era (with the obvious exception of Aaron Gordon).
Phoenix will benefit from Payton’s court vision and ability to push the tempo, and it really could be a match made in heaven. That is not to say Phoenix will start winning games en masse, but the realist’s outlook is that a former lottery pick with four triple doubles to his resume could flourish in a high octane offense with the Suns.
The Pistons have lost seven of its past 10, and its past three overall, and are now 31-39 overall on the season, but sitting at No. 9 the Pistons are still six games behind No. 8 Milwaukee, which means a likely trip to the 2018 draft lottery.
New acquisition Blake Griffin has somewhat struggled under Stan Van Gundy after flourishing his first several games. His averages of 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists have been done in 33 minutes a night, but he has a PER of just 14.6 since joining the Pistons.
Blake once paired nicely with DeAndre Jordan and now pairs just as formidable with Andre Drummond.
Drummond has already played a point-center role at times, functioning as a passer in pick and rolls, and graciously setting himself in high post situations. His game has grown. Together with Griffin, Detroit may have dialed up the best 1-2 big man combination outside of what the New Orleans Pelicans had prior to DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles’ injury.
The Pistons will miss Bradley, but he really may have been a season rental at best as he is due to be a free agent and will command a max-contract most likely, as the trend has gone. Reggie Jackson is still functioning well as a scorer, but he has missed time with an ankle injury.
The Pistons said he is due to return soon, but he is likely still out for this game. When the Pistons insert his 15 points a night, they will only grow tougher to beat. The Pistons are one of the hottest teams in the league, and Griffin still is a superstar. He may have declined in popularity, in status, whatever— he is still one of the tops at his position and can potentially change the fate of Detroit.