Meet Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (and goodbye Reggie Bullock)
It has been widely reported and confirmed that the Pistons have traded Reggie Bullock to the Los Angeles Lakers for Svi Mykhailiuk and a 2021 second round pick. It was first reported by Frank Isola and Vince Ellis.
This seems like a bad trade. Is it a bad trade?
My initial reactions to it are certainly not great for a few different reasons. First off, not only is Bullock a player that I would think is good enough to merit a better return (Rodney Hood just got about twice as valuable a return for goodness sake) but he was really the Pistons only good ammo for this trade deadline. Other than Ish Smith, he was the only rotation guy who would have real value as a trade piece (and his is definitely higher than Ish) and they spent that ammo on a totally unproven guy who was a second round pick this season and a second round pick that won’t convey for another two years.
Why does it matter when the pick is? Other than that we are not patient and want everything now?
In the case of the Pistons it actually does matter significantly that the pick isn’t until 2021. One of the reasons that picks in the next couple of drafts would be so valuable to the Pistons is not the potential of drafting the next super-star, it’s in trying to draft another Bruce Brown or Luke Kennard. Guys who are on cheap and team controlled contracts for a totally cap-strapped team that can actually play. By 2021 the Pistons will be out of the salary cap hell they currently are in (unless this regime puts them in a similarly bad situation in the future) so it is actually less useful to have one down the road instead of now. (one thing, people keep telling me that this draft sucks so maybe that impacts it? I won’t say though cause I don’t really do college ball)
So it is a bad trade.
Well lets talk about Svi first and then give a verdict.
Who is Svi?
Svi is a 21 year old, 6’8, guard/wing out of Cherkasy Ukraine. He played for some clubs in Europe before playing his college ball with the Kansas Jayhawks. Svi was a low-minutes bench player in his first two seasons at Kansas, but broke fully into the starting lineup in his 3rd, starting 25 games and scoring just under 10 points per game. His real breakthrough came in his Senior season where he started all 39 games he played in and scored 14.6 points per game and set a school record for 3-pointers made in a season.
Svi was drafted in the second round, 47th overall, by the Lakers. He was impressive in Summer League but has been seldom used as a rookie this season and when he has appeared he hasn’t been overly effective. He has appeared in 38 games, playing just over 10 minutes in those appearances. Worth noting that he hasn’t been in pure garbage time, he’s had a couple of stretches of real play, but the sample size is still so small that it is not worth all that much. Also I am 100% going to refer to him as Svi cause I ain’t typing that out.
How’s his offense?
He’s a shooter first and foremost. HIs game has struggled in the NBA, he’s shooting just 33% from the field and 32% from deep which is very bad. He has never been much of a passer either. However, despite his poor shooting so far, there’s very good reason to believe that won’t stick. Svi was a career 40% shooter in college and was an elite shooter back in Ukraine and has one of the prettiest and quickest releases you will see.
He clearly has the makeup of an elite shooter. That release combined with his size allowing him to shoot over smaller guys puts him in an excellent archetype. It’s just a matter of him hitting shots.
That said, he isn’t just a spot-up shooter. Svi likes to have the ball in his hands, and almost looks more comfortable shooting when he gets to hold the ball for a moment as opposed to rocketing off of screens. This does result in him occasionally dribbling into tough long-twos that you’d rather him not.
That said, he has shown flashes of being able to do some ball-handling stuff. So while he largely ends up in over his head, there is some potential for him to be more than just a spot-up guy.
So for now he’s mostly a shooter, but he can put it on the floor a bit. Over 60% of his shots still came from beyond the arc this season and 58% of his career shots in college came from beyond the arc, so make no mistake this dude is a shooter first and second. But he has some ability to put it down.
The biggest red flag for his offense is two things. First off, the (limited) numbers back up the eye test that he isn’t as comfortable coming off of screens ready to shoot. Per synergy, he ranks is just the 14th percentile in shooting off of a screen. On top of that, despite showing some flashes he may have very little hope of being anything beyond a 3-point shooter.
In his senior year of college, he shot just 38% from inside the arc and didn’t draw a lot of fouls. It is good and cool that he shows some ability to put the ball on the floor, but there’s little evidence that there is much hope for him to actually be able to create space for himself with any regularity.
Beyond that, it’s just a matter of his shooting prowess to translate to the NBA. In 5 G-League games he’s shot 45% from deep and averaged 29 points per game, so it really is just a matter of it translating to this level.
Lastly, I hate to describe a white guy like this since it’s such a cliche, but he is sneaky athletic.
How’s his defense?
Hard for me to say. Even when you watch guys a ton it is hard to say stuff about defense. The general consensus is that Svi is pretty poor though. Hypothetically he’s got the size that he has some versatility, and as stated before he isn’t a total bum of an athlete. One worry is that he is currently pretty skinny and would stand little chance against bigger wings of the world.
But, it’s much harder to find cilps/videos of a guys defense than of offense. So I just don’t know for sure. For now, assume he’s pretty bad though.
How does he fit with this team?
He will largely do the same stuff as Reggie Bullock, at least hypothetically. Like Bullock he has the length to guard guys but lacks the strength and probably toughness to really go toe to toe with good scorers. He’s also a pure shooter who can at least occasionally put the ball on the floor. He will spend a lot of time spotting up and running around off of screens and getting dribble-handoffs from Drummond and Griffin.
Upshot for the rest of the roster?
Not totally clear where he will be slotted in, but I would think that Kennard will go into the starting lineup for now at least. Although we know Casey will be hesitant to put such a small wing combination on the floor as Kennard and Brown, but for now that is probably the best option.
After that, the big question is whether the Pistons think Svi is more of a shooting guard or small forward. In theory, Svi could step into Bullock’s role, play most of his minutes at small forward, and everything else is the same. Svi is 6’8 after all. If they are not ready to give him major minutes at the 3, then it may mean that one of him, Galloway, or Khyri Thomas are out of the rotation. That would either push Stanley Johnson into more minutes or put Glenn Robinson back into the rotation.
My guess is, once again, Kennard and Brown will start and Svi will get ~15 minutes off the bench at small forward. They will likely adjust things from there but that is probably where they will start.
Best case scenario:
Svi really is the next Klay Thompson, upon arrival he finds his shot and is better on defense than we were led to believe. He wins the starting spot before the season is over and is actually better than Reggie Bullock. The Pistons have a starting wing who’s super-cheap for the next few seasons while Reggie Bullock ends up getting paid (by someone) more than the Pistons had any hope to give anyways. They also nail that second round pick when it comes around.
Worst case scenario:
Svi has shot bad so far because he just isn’t good enough to do it in the NBA. They try to give him minutes this season but he is very bad and they cannot find anyone who can fill the void that Bullock leaves and it effectively kills what momentum the squad had built. Clinging to Svi they set him up for major minutes next season, believing he will break out, but it doesn’t happen. Svi is not an NBA player and the Pistons never find suitable wing players for the next few years which keeps them from ever being even remotely good.
For good measure, Reggie Bullock’s market this Summer ends up being cool and the Pistons probably could’ve just kept him on long-term after he helps LeBron and the Lakers win a chip.
As stated above, I can’t help but feel like this is a pretty pitiful haul. The sort that I honestly would’ve rather just rode out the season with him and see if you can finagle your way into retaining him this Summer. That said, there is reason for hope here.
This front office has made two second round draft picks and both appear to be good ones as of now. Svi is a guy that many smart basketball people think really has great potential so I’m assuming that the pisotns are one of the groups who thinks he has good upside. As such, if Svi ends up being good then this is a good trade and the right move, it simply puts a lot of pressure on a totally unproven guy.
So, lets see what Svi can do in Detroit. Maybe he will show up and be very good, in which case his tiny contract (that goes through 2021) will make him a great asset for the Pistons, and they will eventually get a second round pick to either trade or use as well.
My larger understanding is also that the Pistons, internally, had pretty much decided they have no chance to retain Bullock after this season. Time will tell if that was a correct call, but it was the call they made. Svi is a decent prospect, but there is real risk here. My overall verdict is that I think they maybe took less value than they should’ve, but if they really like/believe in Svi then they made the right move. So lets put a pin in it and come back at the end of the season.
So it’s time to tank now right?
I doubt it. Being sellers does not equal tanking, especially when the Pistons had internally decided they had no shot to retain Bullock, and once again there are real scouts who think that Svi may be better than Bullock outright. I think those scouts are probably crazy, but they are out there. Basically, Svi is a real prospect.
The one thing that worries me is that I’ve heard that they are not likely to trade Ish because they want to keep him. That on it’s own isn’t a big deal, Ish is good and a guy I’d be fine bringing back. I’m not sure how I feel about potentially making Ish a higher priority than Bullock. Because Bullock is better than Ish. But that’s kind of speculation and once again, Bullock will likely be more expensive so maybe it isn’t “We really want Ish but don’t care about Bullock” but “We will probably actually be able to pay Ish but have no chance for Bullock.”
So yeah, getting some value for a guy who’s leaving anyways doesn’t mean tank or full fire sale. That could still happen I suppose, just this isn’t it.