Oh Good... Bairstow... Who's Bairstow?
So the Pistons traded Spencer Dinwiddie to the Chicago Bulls for something called a Cameron Bairstow, which at first was believed to be some Australian utility device for SVG's secret beer stash. Contrary to what some people have said, this is not purely a salary dump and the Pistons are not for sure cutting Bairstow. If the Pistons wanted to get rid of cap space they would have just not picked up Spencer's option (which was fairly likely) and not bothered to trade him. Bairstow might not make the team, but it is not a done deal.
Disclaimer!! Bairstow has played a very small amount of NBA basketball. There is so little real footage of him that I went back and watched a game he played 18 minutes in (by far his highest total of the season) from mid February. Small sample size applies here big time. And everything should be assumed to be theoretical. And even though I follow the rest of the NBA pretty closely, I knew damn near nothing of Bairstow before this. So yeah. Regardless, just like any self-respecting comentator I will now pretend to be an expert on Bairstow's life since his birth.
Who is Cameron Bairstow?
Cameron is a 25 year old from Brisbane Australia. He played his college ball at New Mexico where he was called the most improved player in program history, going from a rarely used bench player as a freshman, all the way to being, by a fair margin, the best player in the MWC his senior year. Think Frank Kaminsky if his Junior year had been his senior year maybe.
Where does he fit on the Pistons?
Bairstow will likely get a chance to win the 3rd big spot from Joel Anthony. (And be a cheaper option than Anthony.)
The Good News? (Emphasis on theoretically)
On the floor, he should be a pretty decent fit as a 3rd big. He's 6'10 and a pretty big, strong guy who can bang with opposing centers. And on offense he is comfortable taking jump shots and has a kind of goofy offensive game that is really rare in todays NBA.
His jumper would allow him to play alongside either Drummond or Baynes if need be, and his size allows him to play as the center if need be. Which is a nice bonus for a guy who would be a reserve, because the whole point of reserves is that they plug holes, (whether made by injury or foul trouble.) so having a reserve who can plug more than one hole is a nice thing to have.
In some ways, the thing I actually like most about him is his really goofy game. He is able to score out of the post, and while he does it in the close range, he still largely does it with jump shots. The short range jumper is something that has pretty much died in todays NBA, guys who post up are brutes trying to get to the hole and hit hook shots or dunk it, or DeMar DeRozan types who take lots of fadeaway jumpers and jab steps while yelling "Kobe!" Bairstow will get positioning, and then use a combination of strength and footwork to get off goofy angle jump shots. I like this because, for starters, its just kind of funny to watch, but also because it is largely unique in todays NBA. Guys are just not used to guarding that sort of player, so if he has to come on and play 5 minutes due to foul trouble for Baynes/Andre, whoever is guarding him will be almost certainly unprepared for him.
HOWEVA, the reality is that Bairstow is almost certainly not going to be fed post ups lol. (Although he did get them occasionally) The thing he would be used for most is his shooting. He seems most comfortable hitting from at and just beyond the free throw line. And even though he has never taken many 3s, the Bulls did regularly put him in the corner ready to receive a pass so he likely has shown some ability to at least hit the corner 3 a bit.
Lastley, there were not many teams that had as crowded a frontcourt as the Bulls the past couple of seasons. Between Noah, Pau, Gibson, Mirotic, Bobby Portis, Felicio, and even occasionally McDermott. It is at least kind of understandable that he never managed to find any playing time. It is not a good sign when Felicio jumps you, but if there was one team that was so stacked in the frontcourt that a decent player could end up buried for a couple years, it would probably be the Bulls.
He probably can't play much defense at all. He has some ability to protect the paint just because he is wide and strong, but he can't really jump enough to be any sort of real rim protector. He also is comically slow footed. In the game against the Hornets, I shit you not, Spencer Hawes faced up and blew by him on a possession. And whenever faced with someone even remotely quick he became an absolute foul machine very quickly. This is a problem because if he is totally incapable of guarding 4s, then despite his shooting he cannot really play the 4, and him theoretically being able to play either spot is a big part of what could make him useful.
Seriously this guy would look un athletic hooping at the Y.
He wasn't even a good rebounder in college, he is probably a bad rebounder in the NBA. (based on the evidence so far lol) which is obviously a bit of an issue for a big. Although FWIW, he does appear to have pretty good and quick hands to snag some so maybe he will be ok.
Despite the Bulls deep front court earlier mentioned. This guy has played basically no NBA basketball. The sample size is literally so small it is largely useless. I would assume, based on his college and summer league action, that his midrange jumper will be money in the pick and pop. But on the NBA level, he took precisely 6 of those shots this past season from the free throw line extended (and hit 3 of them.) So who knows for sure? It may well be that if he gets real minutes he will not be able to shoot well at all. It's always a little scary to bring in a guy who is an absolute question mark, even if it is for as small a role as 3rd big.
Best case scenario?
His jumper is money on the pick and pop, from midrange and from 3. SVG helps him learn enough defensive smarts to survive, his goofy post up game is actually a decent weapon to use for a few possessions every now and then. And the Pistons let Joel Anthony go and save some money while getting a player that is probably a bit better.
Worst case scenario?
The Pistons decide to make him the 3rd big and let Anthony go, one of Baynes/Andre gets hurt and Bairstow has to play real minutes, and he is absolute garbage. He has no use other than being able to hit a few midrange jumpers and even that isn't anything special.
What about the trade though? Spencer?
I mean, in the end Spencer is probably a fringe NBA player who will probably never be much good. And if the Pistons were going to just let him go anyways, then its the right move to get something that might be of some use for them. The mistake I think being made is that they decided they were dumping him anyways. I would have preffered to wait until at least after the draft. (his option came up just a bit after that I believe) If the Pistons end up drafting a PG, then dump Dinwiddie somewhere, but if they don't draft a PG, and then come up shorter in free agency than they initially hoped, then they might miss Dinwiddie a bit.
Most of all I still had some faith that Dinwiddie might become a decent NBA player, but the reality is that he probably won't so this trade doesn't really matter in the end.
I would have preffered to not dump Dinwiddie like that yet, but in the end its fine. I believe that Bairstow's option decision is later than Dinwiddie's so the Pistons will get some more time to see how the rest of the roster shakes out as to whether or not they will have any need of him. Jeff Bower said that the Pistons will not change any other offseason plans because of Bairstow and they will have to wait and see for what opportunities he will have with the Pistons. This is not exactly a huge vote of confidence, but it is at least saying that he might be on the team in the fall. They will likely see how the draft and free agency end up, (purely as a for instance) if they were to sign Marvin Williams and draft Sabonis, then there is probably no need at all for Bairstow and they let him go, if they draft a PG and end up with Tolly as their other PF again, then he would probably get a chance.
Provided he actually is on the roster come the season, I think the thing that will determine whether he is any good or not will be his goofy post game. Because I am fairly certain he will be a pretty reliable shooter, and I am also fairly certain he will be a horrible defender. If he can actually have some ability to score on his own though, then he becomes a semi-useful bench player who can do some real things offensively, if not then he is just a bad defender who can shoot, and there are plenty of those around.
What do you think? Think he will make the team? Do you like the trade? Let me know! We all get smarter!