Detroit Season Preview

  • By Joel Steelman, Day 1, 2023

DETROIT - The Mustangs entered the offseason with medium-high hopes of signing Sowder. Those hopes were shattered to pieces when the Thunder swooped in for a sign and trade. The FA focus then took a turn to protect their next choice for “Franchise” tag, Clarke. After getting Clarke, they signed a ton of scrubs. The End.

Ok maybe not exactly how it played out. The Mustangs quickly put focus on needs and targeted a couple of young RFAs for building, Vega and Rice. The move tied up a large portion (26M) of their cap, but they were also able to offer several small offers on a couple vets. One of which, Curtis Westley, signed relatively quickly. Another of which, Kenyon Hammick, targeted as a “failsafe” bid and mentor for the young PGs on the team, eventually signed, but for a min. Rather than go bid by bid, after Vega and Rice freed cap by outbids or RFA signing, respectively, the Mustangs then bid and missed out on Vaughn, Strickland, and Wingate. Since the Mustangs missed out on their fifth wing choice, but still needed a second starter, they settled for a very capable 3pt shooting wing in Coleman.

The Mustangs were also looking for depth in their FA and targeted several min contracts for “tryouts” as well as Xavier Yates, who has been on the Mustangs watch list since being at IUPUI, Orlando Alade, and Dimitri Karacic. Alade gives the Mustangs a ’small’ lineup look at C off the bench. Karacic was taken unfortunately at a “trigger happy” price of 7.5M. He was seen as a decent backup option for Clarke, but admittedly, the Mustangs have agreed they paid too much.

So where do the Mustangs stand at each position as of now? Let’s take a look:

C: Markese Walton
Backups: Jesse Zalys, Orlando Alade, Rodrigo Vasque

The buzz is big on Walton, who came out of Georgetown with an impressive offensive 21.7 ppg average. When drafted, he was and still is, expected to be a “plug-and-play” replacement to Dawkins. Will he live up to the hype? We’ll see. In an alternate timeline, Zalys might have actually started initially. He succumbed to a sophomore slump last year but was probably due to playing most of his time out of position. Alade, as mentioned previously, gives that new small look.

PF: Dameon Clarke
Backups: Dimitri Karacic, Rodrigo Vasque, Orlando Alade

Clarke is now THE guy at Detroit. After putting up 27.3 / 11.2 in the 25 games after joining the Mustangs, it was clear of his offensive talent. It’s even rumored that when asked for weaknesses, the Mustangs scouting team handed back a blank sheet of paper and said “we tried”. Karacic, though expensive, looks to be a solid backup in this position and will hopefully look to learn from Clarke, but so far, the mentoring bug has not hit Clarke.

SF: Reggie Coleman
Backups: Xavier Yates, Dimitri Karacic, (winners of Ehrnvall / Epps / Goldwire)

Reggie Coleman was brought in as a cap move as well as a starter. With a 10.5 / 3 contract, that’s exactly what he’ll start out doing. Depending on his performance, though, he may be overcome by Westley or Rashaw at this position, even though neither are listed as backups. Regardless of whether he holds the starting spot, the backups will be Yates and Karacic, who will provide a nice depth, and also give Karacic a chance to validate his salary. Bringing up the rear so to speak will likely be one or two of the three mentioned.

SG: Josh Rashaw
Backups: Curtis Westley, (winners of Ehrnvall / Epps / Goldwire)

This may come as a shocker, but to start the season, the Mustangs will be starting Josh Rashaw. It’s not that Westley is bad. In fact I’m sure he is better than Rashaw, but in order to have some sort of team chemistry to start the season, three players from the 2022 team will be making starts since they all played together last year. Rashaw actually started while Vaughn was out with injury or being rested with mixed results. Maybe it will plant a seed of cohesion that will grow exponentially with the other 9 new players after TC. Maybe it will not. However, it is suspected Westley will overtake this starting role. The backup roles will once again be one or two of the three mentioned.

PG: Thomas Price
Backups: Bryce Cleveland, (winner of Kenyon Hammick / Tex Ireland)

The PG spot in Detroit is in disarray since the blatant sabotage of the Cinncinatti Kings GM during last FA. It’s clearly the weakest position, and is not a position you want to be weak in. Only two PGs from the four last year will be returning this year. The Mustangs will probably retain one of the two signed this offseason. Now for the starter pick. At the end of the 2022 season, Thomas Price was given a seemingly unnoticed “try-out” of his own for 10 games. He had an option this year, which was picked up, but before doing that, he had to prove his worth, having been inactive most of the year. The offensive prowess of Price was noted as well as his distribution skills. Side-by-side his numbers appear more appealing than Cleveland. It could change, though. If during TC, a player improves by leaps and bounds, they may come out on top. Of the two, Hammick was chosen for his experience and Ireland for his “scrappiness”. Both of which were meant to be a tutor to either of the “young guns”, but that has not happened, yet.

How will Detroit fare this season? It’s really all up to how this “motley crew” turns up and plays together. The bar, as always, is set low for Detroit. The banners in the locker room read “Try not to suck”. It used to be a tongue-in-cheek saying, but this year, it’s serious.