It’s been a busy few weeks for the Detroit pistons†
Detroit plans to keep Noel and Burks for the 2022-23 season, rather than trade them away or buy them out. The acquisition means the Pistons will absorb approximately $19 million in salary, essentially eliminating them from signing the NBA’s major restricted free agent goals.
So, what does Detroit get in Noel and Burks? Here’s what you need to know about the newly acquired veteran duo:
Nerlens Noel is no stranger to Pistons’ brass
Noel, the No. 6 pick in the 2013 draft by the New Orleans Pelicans who was later traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, joins the fifth team of his NBA career. During Noel’s stint with the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2018-20, the current Pistons general manager, Troy Weaver, was the team’s assistant general manager and vice president.
Weaver was hired by Detroit towards the end of Noel’s run in Oklahoma City. Noel then signed with New York in November 2020, where he has played ever since. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 3.4 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last season, while the Knicks finished 37-45.
In the 2020-21 season, Noel’s supporting role helped New York capture its first winning season and playoff appearance since 2013. Atlanta Hawks in the first round.
Weaver’s reunion with Noel could be the big man guiding Jalen Duren, a rookie 6-11 center.
Alec Burks has been an elite shooter
Burks has now played for seven teams in his 11-year career, shooting 38.0% from a 3-point range, which should boost Detroit’s offense, who shot 32.6% from 3 a year ago.
Burks’ top-scoring season came in 2019-20, when he qualified for the Golden State Warriors and was later traded to the 76ers. While at Golden State, Burks appeared in 48 games, starting with 18, and averaging 16.1 points and 37.5% of 3. After being taken over by Philadelphia, his average score dropped to 12.2 per game, but his 3-point shot rose to 41.6%.
While playing for the Jazz in 2014, Burks scored a career-high 34 points in a 118-103 win over the Denver Nuggets. Seven years later, while in New York, Burks replicated his career high in a 94-85 win over the Pistons†
Fighting the injury list
According to an ongoing injury report by Fox Sports dated late 2017Noel sustained 34 injuries. In the 2021-2022 season alone, he had 10 medical problems, mostly in his knee. The Malden, Massachusetts native also had his college career in Kentucky cut short when he sustained a torn ACL in February 2013.
Prior to his injury, Noel was projected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft for the Cleveland Cavaliers, which eventually took on Anthony Bennett. Falling for the 76ers, Noel has been a key part for Philadelphia in the rebuilding of the franchise, led by now five-time all-star Joel Embiid, after finishing the 2013-14 season in recovery.
How many games Noel, who has an expiring contract and is a future trade candidate, will play for the Pistons is key.
Burks’ small town ties
Burks, a native of Grandview, Missouri, with a population of approximately 25,000, played two seasons in Colorado before running for the NBA draft. Despite being named Gatorade Player of the Year in Missouri, Burks flew under the radar as a high school prospect as 247Sports was ranked the #196 best player in the country in 2009.
However, the three-star recruit’s run with the Buffalos was successful. He gained national attention during his freshman year when he was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and that attention only grew when he was named to the All-Big 12 first team as a sophomore.
Burks was selected as the No. 12 pick in the 2011 draft by the Utah Jazz and has thrived in supporting roles throughout the competition. Like Noel, the Burks acquisition will likely help mentor the younger Pistons, a move that could help the franchise’s future.
Chandler Engelbrecht is a reporter for The Detroit Free Press and can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @ctengelbrecht.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Meet the New Detroit Pistons Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel