So What's the Deal?
Boban agreed has signed a 3 year 21 million dollar offer sheet with the Pistons. The Spurs can still match but they are not going to, they are pretty much capped out and have already signed Dewayne Dedmon to take Boban's spot. As far as I have seen there are not any options or anything like that in the deal.
Who is Boban Marjanovic?
Boban Marjanovic is a 7 ft 3 center hailing from Serbia. He started playing profesionally there at the age of just 14. He bounced around Europe playing for several different teams over the years, until the past couple of years he really burst onto the big stage by really dominating the Adriatic league (primarily formed of teams from the former Yugoslavia) and Euro League. The Spurs signed him last season to be the 3rd big following the loss of Aron Baynes and Tiago Splitter to make room for Aldridge. Last season he became a fan and per 36 favorite by dominating garbage time. HOEWEVA, due to Tim Duncan being old, he did start to get some real playing time later in the season, and he actually did just fine then as well.
I'm going to say this a lot. But if there is one thing to know about Boban, its that he is huge, AND he knows how to make the most of his size. And that second part is important.
Obviously, at 7'3 290 pounds, he is huge, even by NBA standards. I haven't been able to find a measure of his wingspan but he's also got hella long arms. Once again, he's freaking huge even by NBA standards. And the way he makes the most of it is that he plays like he is freaking huge. Like you know how guys say "he plays bigger than his size"? It might be impossible for Boban to play bigger than his size because he's so big, but he certainly doesn't play smaller than his size. When he gets the ball, he holds it high above his head, and doesn't bring it down very often, he straight bullies people down low to try and get to the hoop. Simply put, he knows how big and strong he is, and he knows how to leverage it.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! He is actually pretty skilled. His righty hook is crazy soft, and the way that he just palms the ball far above his head makes it almost impossible to block as well. In the post he also draws a ton of fouls, in fact, he was, by most measures, one of the best post up players in the NBA last season. He also can shoot a little bit, he didn't take a lot of jumpers last year (because, when you're that big, you should probably be at the hoop) but he hits them at a solid rate. Combine that with his 73% at the stripe and there is good reason to believe that he probably actually is a pretty decent shooter. Throw in on top of this that he's a pretty crafty passer and he is actually a really nice offensive player.
As an athlete he is actually not bad either. He can run the floor well, and he runs it hard too. As a roll man in the pick and roll he is solid, and is aided by the size of his hands which allows him to easily catch and finish in traffic. He also is an absolute monster on the glass, if he had played enough to qualify, he would've lead the NBA in offensive rebounding%.
Him actually being a decent athlete transfers to defense as well. He is not very good on the perimeter, but as long as he can keep from going too far out, he is just fine. When confronting a driving guard in space, he gets low and spreads his arms wide and makes himself a real detterant. And once again, he is not going to be switching onto guards and smothering them like Andre Drummond does, but he is certainly not hopeless corralling ball handlers. He is so big that when they get past him he can generally still stick with them enough to contest their shot. Obviously as a rim protector he is pretty solid, purely by virtue of being freaking huge if nothing else, but once again, he actually has decent foot speed and has a good nose for the game. I think that Zach Lowe put it best with Boban's defense. He can be a real weapon as a part of the defense, but he isn't good enough to save it on his own.
Essentially what I want to get across here, Boban is not just some huge guy. He has real NBA skills, is not a bad athlete, he keeps himself in great shape, and every report about him is that he works hard every day and seems to really enjoy playing the game and working to get better.
Per 36 numbers don't mean crap until you do them over a larger minute total. The reality is that he played the vast majority of his minutes in garbage time, and when you would watch him, there were times where whoever was defending him would visibly go "fuck this guy" and just not really even try and do anything to him and resigned themselves to him dunking all over their souls. And I would guess that if he were to play more in real minutes that will happen less. Once again, when he did play in real minutes, he was still solid, he might be able to keep up his per 36 on like 15 mpg. But it is a worry. He is very unproven.
The main problem with his game is his defense. As stated above, he is a solid defender overall, but he is pretty hopeless when he has to go all the way out the the perimeter. He can stick with guys in space as long as he is within like 2 or 3 steps of the hoop, but when he gets out beyond the free throw line he can really struggle.
I don't know how much of a worry it is, because he has never had any injuries, (that I am aware of. Nothing too significant at least) HOWEVA, when you have a guy his size, even if he takes care of his body and is durable. It only takes one thing to go wrong in his back or his feet and it could cause major issues. It is a worry with any big guy, but with a guy his size it is an even bigger worry. Once again, he has had no issues as far as I know, but it is something to keep in mind.
What will his role with the Pistons be?
I don't know for sure what it will be in the long term, or even the short term. For now I would assume he will be the 3rd center behind Baynes and Drummond. Basically doing the Joel Anthony thing where he plays when foul or injury trouble comes. But Boban has the advantage of being a pretty unique look to throw out there as a change of pace guy sometimes. Beyond that though, Aron Baynes is likely going to be a free agent after this season, so will Boban become the backup center? Will the Pistons just trade Baynes this season? I have no idea what the plan is there. My guess would be they will have him around this season and if he plays well, they will let Baynes walk and Boban becomes the full time backup. If they think he should probably stay as a 3rd center and fan favorite then they will do that.
How will he fit?
Lol, I have no idea. The one thing that makes me a bit worried about him potentially being the backup center (even if it is just for a few games while Baynes or Drummond are injured) is that the rest of the bench mob is set up to be a group that runs like crazy and shoots a lot of 3s. Boban runs the floor pretty well and should be ok in the sort of group. But his best asset is him going into the post and punking dudes with hook shots. That does not figure to fit in great with them. HOWEVA, he is probably good enough in the post that it will be a good fit purely by virtue of him being a good weapon.
The one thing that I am hugely intrigued by, and call me crazy but this was seriously the first thing I thought of, is him and Andre being on the floor together. Not a high usage combo, but holy crap, the other team might never get a rebound. And Andre is unique in that he is absolutely nimble enough to guard the opposing team's 4 so that Boban could stick in the paint where he is most effective, and Boban can probably shoot enough so that it isn't a spacing nightmare. But I wouldn't worry about the shooting between the two, because this is what I would envision. Give the ball to one of them in the post, and station the other right at the hoop as well, essentially so it is a short range shot (so a shorter/more predictable rebound) and then they both are right there to go for rebounds. It wouldn't be a high usage lineup or anything, but I think it would be a great thing to pull out occasionally for a couple of minutes just to fuck with the other team. Like think of the Bulls, and if they are going small with the bench mob with McBuckets at PF (which they didn't do a ton last year, but they did it some) and then suddenly Andre and Boban are on the floor, and Dough has to try and guard one of those two. And once again, Andre is fully capable of sticking with a smaller PF on defense so I actually think it could work.
The per 36 are not a mirage. Boban is a monster in the post that opposing backups simply cannot handle. He wins the backup center job so completely from Baynes that the Pistons flip Baynes for something and Boban is the backup center for the next 3 years, and the Pistons have the biggest pair of centers in basketball. And he and Andre occasionally cameo to obliterate the boards.
(really it would be he gets hurt. But lets just not talk about that.) He is not really cut out to be more than the 3rd big. He is fun to have on the team and works hard, but struggles when asked to play real minutes. And even though it isn't a terrible contract, everyone groans about how a guy is getting 7 million per year to sit on the bench, even if he is as lovable as Boban is.
Are you worried about something?
Yes I am, how did you know?
I'm you. You asked youself that question dumbass.
Ah, of course.
But yeah, there is one thing that I am now a bit worried about. This Pistons team is built, almost entirely on guys that the Pistons have taken a chance on. Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Jon Leuer, Ish Smith, Aron Baynes, Boban, Reggie Bullock, you can even count in Andre to an extent. Basically the whole team are guys that the Pistons bet were better than everyone else thought they were. And so far, like all of them have been spot on, whether it's Reggie being worth every penny of his contract or Marcus Morris actually being a really good player and not a locker room problem. And even though I really like all 3 of the Pistons signings this offseason on their own, I am just worried that they are going to miss on one of these guys. Because even the best organizations miss sometimes. Just something in the back of my mind.
Upshot for the rest of the roster?
Bairstow and Anthony are gone, I believe the Pistons have at least unofficially announced that already. Which, that's fine. I wish Bairstow had come to summer league because I was at least kind of interested in him, but whatever, he probably isn't an NBA player.
As of now there is 1 roster spot left, and given his play in the summer league combined with Gbinije's injury, my money is on Lorenzo Brown getting it which would be cool. The Pistons don't really have any space left so they would be adding someone for the minimum (or very close to it) anyways.
The last thing this means, is that Ellenson is buried now. As in, it would take catastrophic injuries for him to play a single non-garbage time minute this year. He is able to play the 4 or the 5, and he is now the 4th center on the roster, and even though he technically is the 3rd PF probably. If either of Mobias gets hurt then the one that is left will play PF and Stanley will slot into the starting lineup at the 3 spot, essentially making Ellenson the 4th PF as well. The one good side of this for West side fans at least is that Ellenson will likely make at least a couple stops in Grand Rapids this season which would be cool.
I love having Boban be a Piston. He is just fun to have around, and even if he is a 3rd big, he is fun enough to watch that he will at least add some excitement to blowouts. But I actually think that he will be able to play some real minutes and be pretty good at it as well. So I like the signing and the contract. Even if he is the 3rd big, I think there will be plenty of dudes making 7 mill per year who are on the edge of the rotation. Also, yet another international guy to give Pistons fans a little extra to pay attention to in international play.
What do you think? How will Boban do in Detroit? Let me know! We all get smarter!