The Pistons did some wheeling and dealing at Thursday’s trade deadline. Will their new acquisitions help them beat the NBA odds in Friday’s matchup against the Bulls? Maybe not just yet.
Jason’s record as of Feb. 18: 35-29-4 ATS, 2-4 Totals
Going into the holidays, the Detroit Pistons were 5-23 SU and 8-20 ATS. Visions of golf clubs were dancing in their heads. But coming out of the All-Star break, the Pistons are legitimate playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference (such as it is) at 21-33 SU and 25-29 ATS. What a stunning turnaround for a team in such disarray.
So why mess with a good thing? Detroit was involved in Thursday’s biggest deadline deal, landing disgruntled point guard Reggie Jackson from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Will he be the straw that stirs the drink for the Pistons? For that matter, will Jackson be in the lineup this Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET) when Detroit hosts the Chicago Bulls? Inquiring bettors want to know, especially with the Pistons laying six points on the NBA odds board.
Spencer for Hire
As good as the Pistons have been since unloading Josh Smith (14.2 PER), their season took a turn for the worse when Brandon Jennings (19.6 PER) was lost for the year to a torn Achilles. Detroit is 4-6 SU since that fateful day – but also 6-4 ATS, thanks to the yeoman work of D.J. Augustin (15.8 PER).
Now Jackson (15.6 PER) has arrived in the Motor City to take over as the starting point guard. Augustin is on his way to Oklahoma City. It’s a bit of a wash, although Jackson is younger and has more upside. But Pistons beat writer Keith Langlois says it would be “surprising” if Jackson suited up Friday against the Bulls. Which would leave Detroit with… let’s see… Spencer Dinwiddie (8.7 PER) running the point. Or maybe John Lucas III (11.9 career PER).
Augustin isn’t the only player leaving Detroit. Kyle Singler (9.4 PER) was sent to OKC in the Jackson trade, while Jonas Jerebko (14.5 PER) and little-used Luigi Datome were shipped to the Boston Celtics in a deal that brings Tayshaun Prince (12.1 PER) back to the team where it all began. Again, we’re not sure if Prince will play on Thursday. There’s even some buzz that he might seek a buy-out, although others disagree.
Bull in the Heather
No such personnel questions for the Bulls (34-20 SU, 25-29 ATS), who were quiet at the trade deadline and should be refreshed after the extended All-Star break. Not that everyone’s healthy, though. Jimmy Butler (21.3 PER), Kirk Hinrich (7.1 PER) and Mike Dunleavy (11.5 PER) are all expected to play hurt Friday. But at least they’ll play.
Getting all these guys back into the mix is vital. The Bulls are a plus-32 when Butler and Dunleavy are on the perimeter with Derrick Rose (16.6 PER), along with Pau Gasol (22.8 PER) and Joakim Noah (15.1 PER) down low. That translates to an expected winning record of 10-5. The Bulls are still solid at plus-26 when Dunleavy is swapped out for Tony Snell (11.4 PER), but for the most part, things go south when Butler and Dunleavy are split up.
Given the questions surrounding the availability of Jackson and Prince for Detroit, it’s not too difficult to make Chicago one of our featured NBA picks for Friday. But the Bulls make it even easier by having all their preferred starters available. This is the team people were expecting to contend with the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the East. Rose may not be an MVP-quality player anymore, but there are occasions when he goes off for 30 points, like he did last week against Cleveland. And Gasol has worked out better than anyone could have hoped – which makes you wonder why it took so long for the Bulls to get that top-flight power forward they’ve needed for so long. All good things to those who wait.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Bulls at 5Dimes