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2016-17 fantasy profile: Pistons

March 9, 2016 - Dallas, TX, USA - The Detroit Pistons' Reggie Jackson (1) reacts to his 3-pointer with a minute left in the second half against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, March 9, 2016, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Pistons won, 102-96 (Photo by Brad Loper/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

Over the coming weeks, we at Today’s Fastbreak will be doing a team-by-team breakdown of each NBA franchise’s fantasy prospects for the 2016-17 season. We’ll continue today with the Detroit Pistons.

Fantasy basketball owners shouldn’t be in for too many surprises when it comes to the Detroit Pistons in 2016-17.

With the Pistons’ starting lineup largely set in stone heading into the offseason, head coach/team president Stan Van Gundy sought to round out the team’s bench in the draft and free agency. He drafted Marquette big man Henry Ellenson and Syracuse swingman Michael Gbinije before signing backup point guard Ish Smith, a stretch-4 in Jon Leuer and Basketball Twitter favorite Boban Marjanovic. Aside from perhaps Leuer, none of those players have fantasy appeal in 2016-17 barring injury to those ahead of them on Detroit’s depth chart.

There is reason to wonder how much the added depth could affect the fantasy value of the Pistons’ incumbent starters, however. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond aren’t in danger of losing their starting gigs, but Marcus Morris and Stanley Johnson figure to wage war during training camp for the starting 3 job, while Leuer’s presence could lead to a reduction in minutes for Tobias Harris.

Let’s take a look at which Pistons players you should target with early-, mid- and late-round picks and who you should leave on the waiver wire. We’ll also highlight one breakout pick or a sleeper who’s likely to outperform his draft position, along with one bust who may end up disappointing this season.

Early-round picks

Andre Drummond, C: Andre Drummond will be one of the most divisive early-round picks in fantasy basketball this year, as his value is tied almost exclusively to your league format. If you’re in a head-to-head league and decide to punt free-throw percentage, you’ll get a guy who otherwise produced top-20 per-game value in eight-category leagues last season, according to Basketball Monster. For those in roto leagues who don’t have the luxury of punting, Drummond finished as the 87th-ranked player in eight-category formats in 2015-16. He’s a potential early-round steal in head-to-head leagues if you construct your roster around his strengths and weaknesses, but roto owners can’t consider him until the middle rounds.

Mid-round picks

Reggie Jackson, PG: Reggie Jackson was an obvious breakout candidate heading into his first full season with the Pistons, and he didn’t disappoint, averaging a career-best 18.8 points on 43.4 percent shooting, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 triples in 30.7 minutes per night. Those averages enabled him to finish as the 41st-ranked player in eight-category leagues, slightly exceeding his already lofty average draft position of 46.0. Ish Smith won’t pose a considerable threat to his playing time, so another top-50 campaign should be within reach, particularly if he boosts his shooting efficiency at all. Even if he doesn’t, owners can still confidently target him with a fifth- or sixth-round pick. 

Tobias Harris, PF: Tobias Harris spent just 27 games in a Pistons uniform last season after the Orlando Magic shipped him to Detroit at the trade deadline, but it didn’t take long for him to flash his fantasy upside. During those final two months, the Tennessee product averaged 16.6 points on 47.7 percent shooting, 6.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 triples in 33.4 minutes per night. On a per-game basis, Harris finished as the 67th-best value in eight-category leagues during his time in Detroit, according to Basketball Monster, ahead of Kevin Love, Jabari Parker and Jae Crowder. The addition of Jon Leuer could cut into his minutes slightly, but the Pistons are clearly committed to him as their starting 4 of the future.

Late-round picks

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG: With Jodie Meeks limited to just 43 total minutes last season, the Pistons had to call upon Kentavious Caldwell-Pope early and often. The third-year shooting guard rose to the challenge, averaging 14.5 points on a career-best 42.0 percent shooting, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 triples in a whopping 36.7 minutes per night, finishing as the 82nd-ranked player in eight category leagues. Detroit brought in Ray McCallum and Michael Gbinije to round out its 2-guard depth this offseason, but neither player poses a legitimate threat to KCP’s playing time. It could be all systems go for a breakout campaign in 2016-17 if he can improve upon his shooting efficiency. 

Marcus Morris, SF/PF: Stanley Johnson may be the Pistons’ long-term small forward of the future, but Marcus Morris started all 80 of the games in which he appeared last season, averaging 14.1 points on 43.4 percent shooting, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.4 triples in 35.7 minutes per night. That was good for an 88th-place finish in eight-category leagues, directly ahead of Kyrie Irving, Ryan Anderson and Jabari Parker. Given the addition of Leuer, though, Morris isn’t likely to spend much (if any) time at the 4 this year, so his allocation of minutes could decline significantly. Owners should not expect a repeat of his 2015-16 campaign, but late-round value is still possible if he can stave off Johnson and keep his starting gig.

Stanley Johnson, SF: Stanley Johnson finished well off the fantasy radar as a rookie, largely because he shot a dismal 37.5 percent from the floor. He had the ninth-worst score in field-goal percentage among all players last season, worse than Ricky Rubio, Nick Young and Danny Green. (Yeesh.) The Arizona product did otherwise have promising production—8.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.9 triples and 0.8 steals in 23.1 minutes per night—so there’s reason for optimism if he can boost his shooting efficiency above 40 percent. With Marcus Morris standing in between him and a spot in the starting lineup, though, he’s unlikely to produce more than late-round value (if that) in 2016-17.

Waiver-wire fodder

Ish Smith, PG

Lorenzo Brown, PG

Darrun Hilliard, SG

Ray McCallum, SG

Reggie Bullock, SG/SF

Michael Gbinije, SG/SF

Jon Leuer, PF

Henry Ellenson, PF

Aron Baynes, C

Boban Marjanovic, C


Sleeper: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 

Bust: Tobias Harris

Other team breakdowns

Atlanta Hawks | Boston Celtics | Brooklyn Nets | Charlotte Hornets | Chicago Bulls | Cleveland Cavaliers | Dallas Mavericks | Denver Nuggets

All statistics via Basketball-Reference.com or NBA.com. All player rankings via ESPN’s Player Rater unless otherwise noted.

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