Perhaps the most intriguing free agent of 2016, Boban "The Big Friendly Giant" Marjanovic agreed to a three year/$21 million offer sheet from the Detroit Pistons. From a physical standpoint, he might be the most eye-popping player in the league. At 7'3 with a 7'8 wingspan, he looks like what a 13-year-old might concoct on NBA 2K MyPlayer if asked to create a Center.
Despite his incredible length, Boban is more than capable of holding his own on the block as a rim protector, and he's got a pretty soft touch around the rim. Because he spent all of the last season buried on the bench behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and David West, no one quite knows what to expect from Boban in an expanded role.
So how does he fit into Stan Van Gundy's big picture?
A better solution when teams go Hack-A-Drummond
Although both Aron Baynes and Boban shoot well enough from the line to stay on the floor, only Boban has the sort of offensive game to plug right into Detroit lineups when Drummond is forced to sit. Baynes is a pure hustle big, and he's a bit of a tweener in a bad way -- too slow to play in small-ball lineups, but too small to play bully-ball lineups. Boban won't cram home oops like Drummond, but he's decent at rolling or slipping screens to find spots where he can seal his defender. Detroit will have to take Drummond out to survive the inevitable shellacking of intentional fouls he'll see next season, but now they can just plug and play Boban. Although Boban lineups won't have the same punch as the Drummond variation, Boban's P&R game is good enough that Pistons won't have to compromise their offensive geometry.
Boban fits symbolically into what Stan Van Gundy has been building toward since taking over Detroit's front office . . .
Don't look now, but the wall is starting to come together. Drummond is the cornerstone. He's the archer tower at the wall's most vital fulcrum. He spots feeble layups from across the castle moat, then catapults thunderous rejections onto them. But a tower won't stand without fortification, so Van Gundy went and signed a bunch of adamantium bricks with a dash of attitude (see: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes). Boban is a surprisingly mediocre rim protector for his size, averaging only 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes, but he's the perfect spiritual microcosm for a Van Gundy rotation big:
- Plays hard
- Good locker room presence
- Name doesn't start with Dwight or end in Howard
Van Gundy hasn't been shy about who he isn't offering contracts to. He wants character guys that will buy into the culture he's fostering, a defensive monster that plays 4-out offense. He's not calling Nick Young's agent, and he's not reuniting the Morris twins.
Boban might be taller than a watchtower, but he seems down to play the brick in an increasingly terrifying wall. There aren't many players that will outright sink a franchise, but the other end of the bell curve is similarly thin; glue guys that can play come once in a blue moon, just ask any team that has unsuccessfully tried to emulate the Spurs.
Van Gundy is striking a tricky balance here, but he took a smart gamble this summer on rotation players that can both play and fit into his culture, and Boban 'the BFG' Marjanovic should fit in just fine.