No. 3 Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are a young team with a lot of potential, but they lack a true defensive anchor in the middle. A starting-caliber center who can protect the rim and stretch the floor would be a major addition to this team.
The Detroit Pistons’ interior defense has been a major weakness for the team in recent years. In the 2022-23 season, the Pistons ranked 28th in the NBA in points allowed in the paint, allowing 54.0 points per game in the restricted area. They also ranked 24th in the league in field goal percentage allowed in the paint, allowing opponents to shoot 65.8 percent six feet from the basket. That’s on top of their 27th-ranked 3.8 blocks per game.
There are a number of reasons for the Pistons’ struggles on the interior. One reason is that they lack a true rim protector. Starting center James Wiseman is a fellow seven-footer just like Lopez but doesn’t have the defensive prowess that Lopez has cultivated throughout his 15 years in the NBA and isn’t necessarily what you’d call a defensive center. That also points to their lack of experience. Jalen Duren and Marvin Bagley are both still young and relatively unproven bigs.
Signing Lopez not only patches this hole in their defense but gives the Pistons’ younger centers a quality mentor to learn from going forward. They do have the assets to offer him a lucrative contract, and it’s entirely possible they’re the young team that’s rumored to have their eyes set on Lopez.