↓ Login/Logout ↓
Schedule/Results
↓ Roster ↓
Salaries
↓ Archives ↓
↓ About ↓

Archive → June, 2010

Detroit Pistons announce NBA Summer League roster

From a team release:

NO      PLAYER  POS     HT      WT      COLLEGE/COUNTRY D.O.B   YEARS PRO     NBDL EXP

26      Patrick Christopher     G       6-5     220     California      6/3/88  R       None
5       Austin Daye     F       6-11    190     Gonzaga 6/5/88  1       None
24      Jordan Eglseder C       7-0     280     Northern Iowa   7/27/88 R       None   
17      Marquez Haynes  G       6-3     185     UT Arlington    12/19/86        R       None
33      Jonas Jerebko   F       6-10    231     Kinna, Sweden   3/2/87  1       None
42      Mac Koshwal     F/C     6-10    255     DePaul  10/19/87        R       None   
18      Elijah Millsap  G/F     6-6     215     UAB     8/12/87 R       None
10      Greg Monroe     F/C     6-11    253     Georgetown      6/4/90  R       None
25      Jared Reiner    C       6-11    255     Iowa    4/8/82  2       2
8       A.J. Slaughter  G       6-3     180     Western Kentucky        8/3/87  R       None
35      DaJuan Summers  F       6-8     240     Georgetown      1/24/88 1       None
14      Edgar Sosa      G       6-1     175     Louisville      1/15/88 R       None
23      Terrico White   G       6-5     213     Mississippi     3/7/90  R       None

Greg Monroe is a great addition to the Detroit Pistons. Here’s why.

I’ve been e-mailing with Jeff Green’s Dad, who wrote this nice piece on Greg Monroe for Casual Hoya. (No, that’s not actually not the Oklahoma City Thunder forward’s dad, just an online handle). One statement stood out.

“I’m pretty convinced he’s going to be a better pro than he was in college.”

It’s a sentiment I agree with.

A lot of Monroe’s worth comes from how polished he is. He’s probably the third, maybe fourth, most NBA-ready player in this draft. Most who think Greg Monroe will be better in the NBA than he was at Georgetown think that because of his style of play.

  • His passing will help Ben Gordon more than it did Jason Clark.
  • His knowledge of the game will help him grasp complex schemes.
  • His ability to create his own shot will come in handy in the matchup-based NBA.

But I think there could be even more reason to believe in Monroe at this level. He just turned 20. As complete as his game looks, he’s young enough to get a lot better.

I’ve sized up what I consider the key facets of Monroe’s game, exploring what’s in store for the Pistons.

Body control

The first thing I notice when watching Monroe play is his body control. He’s 6-foot-11 and 247 pounds, but he moves like a small forward.

Joe Dumars has shown a propensity for players with long wingspans. Monroe’s is slightly above expected for his height, but nothing to write home about.

Still, I think he brings many of the same advantages long-wingspan players do. By nature, tall players tend to be clumsy and awkward. It’s just not easy maneuvering 7 feet of body. But players with long wingspans can play tall without the awkwardness of being tall.

Even with his fairly average wingspan, Monroe plays like he has the perks of having a long wingspan.

Offensive rebounding

Here’s a chart of offensive- and defensive-rebounding percentages for frontcourt players drafted in 2010. There are a lot of ways to analyze this (based on position and round), but the chart is customizable, so choose your preference. No matter how you set it, Monroe is an excellent defensive rebounder and poor offensive rebounder.


(First-round picks are filled, and second-rounders are unfilled.)

The difference between his production for those similar skills is pretty astounding.

But I think his offensive rebounding will improve markedly in the NBA.

Jeff Green’s Dad said Georgetown frequently played Monroe at the top of the key, where he was too far from the basket to rebound the Hoyas’ missed shots.

Part of the reason Monroe played on the perimeter was to be in position to see the court and take advantage of his passing ability, but JGD said Monroe passed and offensive rebounded effectively in the rare times he played in the high post. That’s where I expect to see him in Detroit.

Anyway, using Roy Hibbert as a model indicates Monroe will be a much better offensive rebounder in the NBA.

In the his first three seasons at Georgetown, Hibbert had offensive-rebounding percentages of 12.0, 15.1 and 14.6, according to KenPom.

With Green in the NBA, Hibbert assumed that role at the top of the key as a senior. His offensive-rebounding percentage fell to 11.5.

With the Pacers, Hibbert has returned to being a quality offensive rebounder. Among everyone who played at least 41 games per season and at least 15 minutes per game since Hibbert entered the NBA, Hibbert ranks 43rd in offensive rebounding, according to Basketball-Reference – ahead of Kendrick Perkins, Brook Lopez, Tim Duncan, Anderson Varejao and Jonas Jerebko.

This offensive-rebounding quirk might make Monroe even better than expected next year, and judging by John Hollinger’s numbers, the expectations are already pretty high.

Passing

Monroe is an excellent passing center. I’ve heard a lot of people say Monroe could serve as Detroit’s point center.

But let’s not get carried away. Centers just don’t hold that role often, and when they do, they’re not as effective as guards.

Tom Boerwinkle had the highest assist percentage for a center in NBA history (33.8 in 1974-75 for the Chicago Bulls). That would only rank 11th this year among all players last year. Again, the center with the highest assist percentage of all-time didn’t even surpass Jose Calderon’s assist percentage last year.

Only six centers have ever had multiple seasons with an assist percentage higher than 20 percent (Boerwinkle, Alvan Adams, Wilt Chamberlain, Rich Kelley, Sam Lacey and Brad Miller). Fifty-two players had assist percentages higher than 20 percent each of the last two seasons.

For Monroe to be the Pistons’ point center, he’d have to be the best or one of the best passing centers of all-time. Monroe, obviously, in all likelihood, won’t be that good.

He turns the ball over a lot for a big man. He also has the ball a lot more than a typical center, which mostly explains all the turnovers.

But if you’re calling for Monroe to serve as Detroit’s point, you have to compare his turnovers to a typical point guard. And given he doesn’t have the ball in his hands nearly as much as a point guard, Monroe turns the ball over way too much to serve as a full-time point.

Still, his passing is a big plus and should make Detroit offense a lot more efficient.

The Pistons have players capable of initiating the offense from three positions: Rodney Stuckey at guard, Tayshaun Prince at forward and Monroe at center. It would be intriguing to see an offensive scheme that relied on each of to play point equally or near equally.

I think there’s a good chance that would confuse the Pistons just as much as the opposing defense, but if I was John Kuester, I’d spend at least a couple practices experimenting.

Defense

In my mind, this is the biggest question about Monroe’s game. Relayed by Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, Monroe described what he brings:

"I’m just another big man that’s going to come in and rebound and score and be able to make plays for his teammates and a hard worker whose main focus is to help the team win," Monroe said.

I wish he mentioned defense. One of the main ways I’ll be evaluating Kuester this year is how he gets Monroe to buy in defensively.

I’m not sure Monroe has the leaping ability to ever be counted on to protect the rim.* But that doesn’t mean he can’t become a solid defender.

*It’s sour grapes now because the Kings picked him a few spots before Detroit drafted Terrico White, but Hassan Whiteside, with his shot-blocking ability and explosiveness, had the potential to be a great defensive complement to Monroe.

Monroe’s frame should allow him to gain strength. Combined with the body control I mentioned above, I think Monroe could become an excellent on-ball defender in the low post. Think Rasheed Wallace in that brief period around 2007 or 2008 when he still played excellent on-ball defense but lost the mobility to rotate and help.

Perhaps, the biggest key to Monroe’s defense will be his attitude. Will he ever have the tenacity necessary to really get after it and make opponents uncomfortable?

Projection

Style comparison: Brad Miller (a good rebounder with great passing ability for a center who can score, but never defends as well as his measurables would suggest)

Ability comparison: Mehmet Okur (a quality starting center who legitimately sneaked into an All-Star game)

Bottom line: For the first time since Darko Milicic, the Pistons have a big man it appears they can rely on long-term. Playing the odds, this will probably go better.

If the Pistons re-sign Ben Wallace and/or use the mid-level exception on a veteran center, I predict Monroe will begin the season coming off the bench. But I expect him to be starting by the end of the year.

He plays with a certain calmness, and that works for him. I can’t see him getting rattled in high-pressure situations.

But that can also make him look passive, which doesn’t inspire greatness from his teammates. He has oodles of talent, but I’m not sure he has the presence to lead a team to a title.

Of course, I’m getting way ahead of myself. By the time Detroit is ready to contend, Monroe could have had a Pau Gasol-like intensity transformation.

For now, I’m absolutely thrilled the Pistons have Monroe’s calmness, intelligence and ability. It sure beats the disarray, confusion and ineptness of last year.

Detroit Pistons draft grades roundup, vote in our grade polls (that work!)

Dan Feldman of PistonPowered: B+

Instead of completely changing the team’s identity, Monroe should allow the Pistons to remain a half-court team. That only speeds up the rebuilding process – especially given how NBA-ready Monroe appears. With the possible exceptions of Kevin Love and Elton Brand, Monroe is the most fundamentally-sound big man out of college since Tim Duncan.

In all honesty, the pick probably doesn’t matter much. As much we were spoiled by Jonas Jerebko and Mehmet Okur, most second-rounders never make an impact. But it’s the logic – or lack thereof – behind the White pick that bothers me.

White might be the best athlete in the draft. He’s fast and can jump. He doesn’t draw a lot of fouls or pass extremely well. He’s built for the fastbreak.

So, how does he fit?

You obviously don’t cater your system to a second-round pick. But White obviously doesn’t fit with Detroit’s system.

Chad Ford of ESPN: A-

The Pistons started the night addressing a major need and ended the night swinging for the fences with one of the best young talents in the draft.

Taking Monroe at No. 7 wasn’t the Pistons’ original hope; they wanted DeMarcus Cousins. But Monroe was the second-best big man on the board, and he brings a lot to the table. He’s the draft’s best-passing big man, he competes on the boards, and he has some sophistication to his offensive repertoire. On the other hand, he doesn’t have the elite athleticism or length the Pistons really desire.

With their second-round pick, the Pistons went the opposite direction. White isn’t as skilled or fundamentally sound as Monroe, but he is one of this draft’s best athletes and has the versatility to play both backcourt positions. If not for his off year, he would’ve been a potential lottery pick based on his physical tools, so getting him at No. 36 was a steal.

While Pistons president Joe Dumars certainly didn’t solve all the team’s problems in the draft, he did take another important rebuilding step.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated: B+

Greg Monroe fell into the center-less Pistons’ lap at No. 7, and they pounced. Monroe is a terrific passer with burgeoning offensive skills and should instantly upgrade a Detroit lineup that was forced to give an aging Ben Wallace extended minutes last season. In time, Monroe could develop into a front-of-the-line starting center. Second-rounder Terrico White is a superb athlete who can play limited minutes at both guard positions. If he makes the team, White could provide added protection should the Pistons part ways with Richard Hamilton.

Dave Del Grande of CBSSports.com: A (Monroe), B (White)

Monroe:

A pass-first big man means even more shots for Ben Gordon. That can’t be a step in the right direction.

White:

Nice fill-in talent if the Pistons choose to unload Tayshaun Prince and head in a new direction.

Tony Meija of Pro Basketball News: A+

Greg Monroe is exactly the type of presence the Pistons have been lacking, capable of facilitating fluidity in a halfcourt offense. They were fortunate that the Warriors went with Ekpe Udoh, who while better defensively, isn’t as proficient a post threat. Monroe may be most ready to contribute of any of this draft’s elite bigs, giving Detroit an opportunity to bounce back quickly. Second-rounder Terrico White has the tools to play at this level if he gains consistency. Good stuff out of Joe Dumars, Scott Perry and the crew.

Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: B+

I’m not going to destroy the Pistons because they fell a pick short, because those lottery balls left them at seventh in what may have been a four-man draft (when the Timberwolves and Warriors are in the top five, the sixth pick in a four-man draft is a good thing to have). Monroe is a clear step down from DeMarcus Cousins, at least on paper, and the Pistons are still trying to convince Sacramento to send Cousins to Michigan. Monroe can play, though, and White’s upside is huge. Not what they wanted, but a good night out considering the pick placement.

Tom Ziller of FanHouse: A-

The Pistons picked up a new starting center, Georgetown’s Greg Monroe, in the first round, and solid 20-year-old combo guard Terrico White in the second round. White might be an insurance policy for Will Bynum, who will be a restricted free agent this summer. Some question whether White can play point guard in the NBA. Lord knows that if he can’t, Monroe — the most skilled passer at center in years — can.

Kurt Helin of NBC Sports: B

Greg Monroe is a good pick at No. 7, a passing big man with a good offensive game coming to a team that needed some scoring along the front line. Nothing fancy here but solid picks that help.

Christopher Reina of Real GM: A-

Depending on how serious the Kings actually were about doing business, the grade for the Greg Monroe pick fluctuates. I don’t see any situation where holding onto Prince makes sense if it meant ruining a chance for Cousins. It is something that we will never actually know and Monroe delivers something that the team doesn’t already have. He won’t be an All-Star, but if he can develop defensively to supplement what he brings in his offensive versatility will be a good first step for the Pistons.

Even though Terrico White is a redundancy with Ben Gordon and Rodney (Stuckey) on the roster, he is a great talent at 36. We also know that Dumars has a definite fetish for this type of player, which shows a little bit of (narcissism) considering the kind of player he was. White is a great athlete and has a general strong all-around game. The only thing separating White between the beginning of the second round and the top-15 is his jumper, which needs to improve for him to be anything more than instant offense off the bench.

Adi Joseph of NBADraft.net: A

Cheer for your team, Detroit. The Pistons land two excellent picks, one filling the team’s biggest need. Monroe should start from Day 1 in a desperately weak frontcourt. White might be the draft’s top athlete, and while he doesn’t fit a need for Detroit, at No. 36, he’s a tremendous value pick. He has the potential to be better than Rodney Stuckey, but could also play with Stuckey if and when the team lets Richard Hamilton go.

Matt O’Brien of SB Nation: B+

Monroe was perhaps the fifth-best prospect in the class, so the Pistons did well to land him here. His deft passing and high skill level give him a chance to be a legit star in the right system, something the Pistons desperately need. White is a solid athlete, though he duplicates much of what Rodney Stuckey already gives them.

Crunching the numbers

Distribution:

  • A+: 1
  • A: 1
  • A-: 3
  • B+: 4
  • B: 1

Average: B+

Vote

Picking Greg Monroe was great, and taking Terrico White was OK, but together, those moves don’t add up for the Detroit Pistons

The Pistons landed a top-five player with the seventh pick in the draft.

That’s the most important thing to take from last night. Try as he did, Joe Dumars couldn’t trade up to get his ultimate prize – DeMarcus Cousins.

In five years, we might cry at the thought of not giving up Tayshaun Prince or a couple first-round picks for the game’s most dominant big man. Or we might be laughing about that time we almost gave away so much for someone who ate himself out of the game.

The point is, Cousins is far from a sure thing. I don’t know what it would’ve taken Dumars to move up, but I believe two things: Dumars really wanted to trade up, and the Kings loved Cousins after his phenomenal workout for them. So, I think the odds are high there was never a plausible deal on the table.

The Pistons were stuck with the seventh pick – likely the first pick of the second-tier big men. They would’ve had to choose between the unappealing options of Ekpe Udoh, Ed Davis and Cole Aldrich.

But Monroe fell into their laps.

Still, when Monroe becomes a good player, let’s not just say Dumars lucked into him. The Timberwolves made the wrong pick. The Warriors made the wrong pick. Dumars could’ve out-thought himself and reached for Ed Davis. But he didn’t.

It’s fair to criticize Dumars for plenty of things. But with the most important draft pick of his tenure, he got it absolutely right, given what we know on draft night.

Fits the system

A huge plus to Monroe: he fits perfectly in the Pistons’ half-court offense.

  • His passing ability should provide Detroit’s shooters, like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, more open jumpers.
  • He’s a great defensive rebounder, which should help the Pistons control the pace.
  • He can also create his own shot.

Sure, there’s always talk of running more. But aside from Rodney Stuckey and Chris Wilcox, the Pistons have a roster full of players who fit in the half-court offense (including some who would be fine up-tempo, too).

Instead of completely changing the team’s identity, Monroe should allow the Pistons to remain a half-court team. That only speeds up the rebuilding process – especially given how NBA-ready Monroe appears. With the possible exceptions of Kevin Love and Elton Brand, Monroe is the most fundamentally-sound big man out of college since Tim Duncan.

Then, the Pistons picked Terrico White in the second round.

Obliterates the system

In all honesty, the pick probably doesn’t matter much. As much we were spoiled by Jonas Jerebko and Mehmet Okur, most second-rounders never make an impact. But it’s the logic – or lack thereof – behind the White pick that bothers me.

White might be the best athlete in the draft. He’s fast and can jump. He doesn’t draw a lot of fouls or pass extremely well. He’s built for the fastbreak.

So, how does he fit?

You obviously don’t cater your system to a second-round pick. But White obviously doesn’t fit with Detroit’s system.

Maybe the hope is Stuckey and White can play like Rondo does with the Celtics. That’s about the only way I can make sense of the pick.

I’ve never seen a player attack the rim 1-on-2, 1-on-3 or even 1-on-4 more than Rondo does. Playing with a team full of older players, he’s up the court ahead of his teammates often. Maybe the Pistons think Stuckey and White can do that.

But neither players are Rondo, and I’m not sure even Rondo does it successfully enough to justify the plan.

There are certainly other questions the White pick generates, too.

As it stands now: Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye are all best at shooting guard. Where does White find minutes?

White doesn’t necessarily have the motor to compete in the NBA (and this could be a problem for Monroe, too). Is this team, especially if Ben Wallace retires, going to instill in them the proper tenacity?

The Pistons are a team struggling to find their identity. Last night, they lost a little more of it.

Grading the picks (updated with another day’s perspective)

Monroe: A-minus A

White: D-plus

Overall: B B-plus

Pistons select Greg Monroe with the No. 7 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft

(Sports Illustrated)

PistonPowered-MLive.com 2010 NBA Draft live chat

Quick trade idea about moving up to No. 3 (to get DeMarcus Cousins)

From Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

New Jersey Nets general manager Rod Thorn remains uncertain whether he wants to hold onto the third pick to draft Derrick Favors and is aggressively entertaining trade bids, league sources said.

“Rod doesn’t love that spot right now,” a source with knowledge of the Nets’ thinking said. “He’s willing to get out of there and go down.”

The Detroit Pistons would love to get to No. 3 and draft Kentucky center DeMarcus Cousins, sources said, but the two teams haven’t been able to get anywhere on a possible package. The Pistons engaged Sacramento on the fifth spot, but Kings GM Geoff Petrie wants to take Cousins and keep him.

Wojnarowski also wrote the Pistons are no longer actively looking to move up. I think there’s a decent chance this is a ploy.

So what’s a New Jersey trade that could work? Here’s what I came up with:

Rodney Stuckey, Jason Maxiell and No. 7 for Devin Harris and No. 3

The trade adds $2,800,178 to the Nets’ cap room ($1,213,8474 for the difference in players’ salaries, $1,112,700 for the difference in draft picks and $473,604 for removing a roster charge).

Sebastian Pruiti of Nets Are Scorching’s thoughts:

I could see that working. Maxiell is a guy who can backup Brook, Stuckey comes in for Harris. But they are only doing this if Monroe is their #1 guy.

Could “World Wide Wes” help Detroit Pistons land DeMarcus Cousins?

OK, yesterday’s crazy, off-the wall conspiracy theory didn’t go over well. I’m not sure whether that was because it was a crazy, off-the wall conspiracy theory or because it ended with Detroit drafting Al-Farouq Aminu. What people think of this post should make the distinction clear, considering I think most Pistons fans would love to get DeMarcus Cousins today.

What does William Wesley do?

Henry Abbott of TrueHoop published an excellent piece yesterday about the enigma that is William Wesley, and in it, he sums up Wesley’s objectives as it relates to players:

In the end, that’s Wesley’s message. Take care of your own business, on and off the court. Get your degree. Run your affairs. Show up to practice. Make a lot of money. Players want those things, and that’s why they trust him.

I also want relay a William Wesley story from Bill Simmons:

So it’s 2:45 in the morning on Friday night. All the Dallas bars and parties have either closed down or stopped letting people in. I’m standing on Main Street with a bunch of people, including Worldwide Wes, the renowned NBA power broker who’s really a cross between Confucius, a benevolent uncle and The Wolf in "Pulp Fiction" to assorted NBA superstars and up-and-coming stars. Known as "Uncle Wes" to the players, he carries more weight within the league than basically anybody. Because he keeps such a low profile, I could never figure out why. Which is why I went out of my way to spend some time with him on Friday night.

Back to Main Street: We’re standing with a young player who wants the night to keep going. The young player pushes to find another bar even though the odds are against it. Uncle Wes makes a face. He’s squashing this right now.

"Nothing good can happen at this point," Wes explains simply. "You can’t chase the night. When the night is over, the night is over. That’s just the way it is. You just gotta wake up tomorrow and hope for a better day."

Uncle Wes had spoken. I am not exaggerating by saying it’s a strangely profound moment. Within 15 seconds, our group splinters in three directions to look for cabs. I find one with my friend Connor. We climb in. We look at each other.

"I will never be able to properly explain that story to anyone," Connor said.

Agreed. You can’t chase the night. It was like hearing a human fortune cookie. I went back to my hotel, took my contacts out, crawled into bed and hoped for a better day. These are the things that happen at NBA All-Star Weekend.

After reading both those excerpts, this is how I’d sum up what Wesley does:

He helps players do what they’re supposed to do.

How does this pertain to DeMarcus Cousins?

In their live mock draft yesterday, Simmons and Chad Ford discussed which teams would be the best fit for Cousins. Simmons listed the Hornets, Rockets, Pistons and Jazz as good fits. Ford went a step further:

Detroit would be the perfect fit for Cousins. They’ve been trying to move up to get him. Have been reluctant to part with Tayshaun Prince to do it. If I were Joe D, I’d probably pull the trigger. They are desperate for a big man and Joe D’s done a good job handling guys like Rasheed Wallace.

If Wesley’s deal is helping players do what they’re supposed to do, wouldn’t getting Cousins to a team where he’s more likely to succeed be a big part of that?

Would World Wide Wes help Cousins?

Abbott writes Wes wouldn’t just get involved on his own:

As players describe it, they tend to seek him out, not the other way around.

Abbott also implies Wesley is in Cousins’ corner – even though the big man didn’t sign with agent Leon Rose (which is actually more common for Wesley’s guys than many think).

Wesley couldn’t have been closer to this year’s Kentucky players, and yet John Wall selected Dan Fegan and DeMarcus Cousins signed up with John Greig.

Although I don’t know for certain, I think it’s a safe assumption Wesley would do what he can to help Cousins succeed. After all, Cousins played for Jon Calipari, a noted friend of Wesley.

Later in the mock draft, Simmons said:

My bold prediction is that, somehow, some way, Detroit will end up with Demarcus Cousins in this draft.

If that happens, I think there’s a decent chance World Wide Wes will somehow be involved.

My conspiracy theory why the Detroit Pistons will draft Al-Farouq Aminu

I participated in The Basketball Jones’ mock draft yesterday, and I selected Al-Farouq Aminu for the Pistons (watch at the 20:35 mark). Yes, I know I predicted the day before Ekpe Udoh would be the pick.

But for a few reasons, I changed my mind. (And if you keep reading, I’ve changed it again.)

The reasonable reasons

Jonathon Givony of DraftExpress tweeted he didn’t see Aminu slipping past Detroit, and Chad Ford’s mock draft 5.0 also had the Pistons taking Aminu. Givony and Ford both base their opinions on NBA sources, not just scouting. It seemed like the Pistons had indicated they like Aminu.

Also, Aminu passed the wingspan test.

The ridiculous reason

Before I go any further, I want to admit this is pure speculation. Additionally, I don’t believe it’s true. But I think it’s possible, so let’s have a little fun.

Last season, there were rumors the Pistons had promised to take Austin Daye with the 15th pick. I have no idea whether they were true, but Detroit taking Daye means it’s at least possible.

When Daye went to the NBA Combine, he performed terribly. His tests showed him to be the worst athlete there. Daye was so bad, Ryan Feldman of The Hoops Report suspected Daye was dogging it.

Think about it. How many solid first round, maybe even lottery, prospects have ever been the worst or second worst in every single test? It’s one thing if he was only the weakest or only the slowest or only the least athletic, but all three?

We’re not talking about an out of shape big man here. We’re talking about Austin Daye.

Can a wing player who is the slowest, weakest, most unathletic player in the entire Draft class be a lottery pick? Apparently, it might be possible.

The question really isn’t whether or not a player like that could be a lottery pick. It’s whether or not the player in question is really what he made himself out to be last week in Chicago.

So what does this have to do with Aminu? One of his biggest plusses entering the draft process was supposed to be his athleticism. Although his numbers aren’t terrible, Aminu tested fairly pedestrianly compared to the other prospects in DraftExpress’ database:

  • No-step vertical: Tied for 33rd (of 91)
  • Max vertical: Tied for 39th (of 92)
  • Bench press: Tied for 16th (of 44)
  • Sprint: 24th (of 46)
  • Agility: 15th (of 46)

Maybe Aminu had an arrangement similar to Daye’s with the Pistons – tank it at the combine to ensure he won’t get picked sooner, and the they’ll draft him. Again, this is all speculation. I have no evidence this was the case for either player.

Now, since I selected Aminu, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press reported Aminu cancelled his workout with the Pistons. Givony thinks that means Detroit won’t pick him, and so does Ford.

If my conspiracy theory is accurate, Aminu’s cancelled workout would fit as part of the smokescreen he and the Pistons are creating.

What now?

My crazy theories aside, I believe the Pistons lost interest in Aminu when he cancelled the workout.

Givony firmly believes that means the Pistons will take Ed Davis now. Ford also has Detroit taking Davis in his latest mock draft, but he doesn’t sound as sure:

At this point it looks like it’s down to Davis, Udoh or Cole Aldrich. Aldrich is the most NBA-ready center and Udoh is the best shot-blocker of the group. But of the players left on the board, Davis has the most upside. He may be raw, but he’s an athletic 6-foot-10 big man with bounce and the ability to crash the boards. The Pistons need to swing for the fences.

I don’t think the pick will be Davis, because his wingspan is subpar. And as Ford notes, Aldrich doesn’t have the upside Dumars’ other lottery picks have possessed.

At this minute, my guess is Udoh. Obviously, that could change quickly.

To get the most-immediate updates on the Pistons’ draft rumors, follow PistonPowered on Twitter, or check back to The Glove Compartment on the sidebar of this site. It’s sure to be a busy day.

On that same note, Charlie Villanueva picked a good time to be charged with domestic assault. The news will certainly be buried today.

With the seventh pick in the 2010 TrueHoop Network mock draft, the Detroit Pistons select … Ekpe Udoh from Baylor University

The TrueHoop Network’s mock draft will be released on our individual sites during the rest of the day, tomorrow and Wednesday. Picks are predictions, not our preferences.

First six picks

1. Washington – John Wall (Kyle Weidie of Truth About It.net)

2. Philadelphia – Evan Turner (Carey Smith of Philadunkia)

3. New Jersey – Derrick Favors (Sebastian Pruiti of NetsAreScorching)

4. Minnesota – Wesley Johnson (Zach Harper of A Wolf Among Wolves)

5. Sacramento – DeMarcus Cousins (Zach Harper of Cowbell Kingdom)

6. Golden State – Greg Monroe (Rasheed Malek of WarriorsWorld.net)

7. Detroit – Ekpe Udoh

I covered Udoh his sophomore season at Michigan, and it’s crazy to think he’s going to be a first-round pick Thursday. And I may have appreciated Udoh more than anyone else that time. I even wrote a column saying Udoh’s transfer could cripple John Beilein’s program:

Beilein puts more focus on offense than defense. For him to have Udoh, who led the Big Ten in blocks on the way to conference All-Defensive team honors last year, was more of blessing than he realized. Without his coach emphasizing it, Udoh took pride in his defense and cleaned up a lot of the mistakes his teammates made. … Udoh was one of the few players Beilein inherited that he could build an NCAA Tournament team with.

And make no mistake about it, that’s what the Wolverines need – an elite defender. Michigan’s defense was poor for most of last season, and that was with Udoh doing his best to make up for his teammates’ weak on-the-ball defense. With him out of the picture, opponents must be salivating about padding their scoring averages against the Wolverines next year.

(Obviously, it didn’t work out quite like that. Michigan made the NCAA Tournament the following season, but Udoh would have certainly helped the Wolverines last year.)

Still, I never thought Udoh would be such a hot NBA prospect.

He contributed almost nothing offensively, and I don’t just mean he didn’t score. He didn’t pass well. Given his size, his offensive rebounding wasn’t special. Basically, it seemed like he just tried to stay out of the way. And I think that’s one reason he wasn’t valued by Beilein, whose offensive system is predicated on having five shooters on the floor.

Also, as thin as Udoh was, I didn’t think he could do the same things defensively. I still worry what will happen when a center backs him down. (Although, he was excellent against eventual-NBAer Kosta Koufos.)

But Udoh would upgrade’s the Pistons pick-and-roll defense right away. He played in the middle of Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone defense and had to cover a lot of ground. He’d allow Detroit switch on screens and cover guards and small forwards better than most big men can.

And his offense came out of nowhere at Baylor. I’m not even going to try to make sense what happened. If you saw him at Michigan, it’s just inexplicable.

The best reason I can give a team to draft Udoh: he shot 68.5 percent on his free throws last season. That stat indicates he has the right attitude now.

Why the Pistons will take him

First of all, Udoh passes the wingspan test.

I also think the Pistons think he’s a good rebounder. Udoh averaged a seemingly impressive 9.8 rebounds per game – tied for third among DraftExpress’ projected first rounders. But using KenPom’s offensive- and defensive-rebounding percentages, Udoh comes up a little shorter.

Here’s a chart of the first-round prospects’ offensive- and defensive- rebounding percentages. Udoh sneaks into the top-right quadrant, the best quadrant. But eight other players have strong holds into the quadrant, including DeMarcus Cousins, who’s in a league of his own.

image

The Pistons have never given much indication they care a lot about advanced stats like these. I think it’s reasonable to suspect they overrate Udoh’s rebounding prowess, making it more likely they take him.

But attitude plays a larger part in why I picked Udoh for the Pistons.

Last summer, Dumars decided he wanted to build a roster full of players who can score inside and outside. So, he drafted Austin Dayeallegedly promising to take him – higher than most projections had him going. And after targeting Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, Dumars offered them contracts they couldn’t refuse (because they were for so much money, not because they were attached to horse heads).

They could’ve maybe traded down and still gotten Daye. And they definitely could’ve gotten Gordon and Villanueva for a little less money. But Dumars wanted those players, and he wasn’t overly concerned with the cost.

This year, it seems Dumars wants a tough big man with high character. After the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, it felt like I read 1,000 articles about how great a guy Udoh is. His defense is excellent, and he obviously has the size.

Even though I – and John Hollinger’s Rookie Rater – think Udoh at No. 7 is a bit of a reach, it seems like the pick Dumars will make if the Pistons stay at No. 7.

Rest of the first round

8. L.A. Clippers – Al-Farouq Aminu (D.J. Foster of ClipperBlog)

9. Utah – Xavier Henry (Spencer Hall of Salt City Hoops)

10. Indiana – Paul George (Tim Donahue of Eight Points, Nine Seconds)

11. New Orleans – Cole Aldrich (Joe Gerrity of Hornets247)

12. Memphis – Ed Davis (Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue)

13. Toronto – Avery Bradley (Zarar Siddiqi of Raptors Republic)

14. Houston – Patrick Patterson (Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm)

15. Milwaukee – Gordon Hayward (Jeremy Schmidt of Bucksketball.com)

16. Minnesota – Hassan Whiteside (Zach Harper of A Wolf Among Wolves)

17. Chicago – Luke Babbitt (Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm)

18. Miami – Eric Bledsoe (Surya Fernandez of Hot Hot Hoops)

19. Boston – James Anderson (Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm)

20. San Antonio – Damion James (Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell)

21. Oklahoma City – Daniel Orton (Royce Young of DailyThunder.com)

22. Portland – Solomon Alabi (Ezra Ace Caraeff of The Portland Roundball Society)

23. Minnesota – Kevin Seraphin (Zach Harper of A Wolf Among Wolves)

24. Atlanta – Larry Sanders (Bret LaGree of Hoopinion)

25. Memphis – Dominique Jones (Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue)

26. Oklahoma City – Tibor Pleiss (Royce Young of DailyThunder.com)

27. New Jersey – Jordan Crawford (Sebastian Pruiti of NetsAreScorching)

28. Memphis – Elliot Williams (Chip Crain of 3 Shades of Blue)

29. Orlando – Quincy Pondexter (Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball)

30. Washington – Craig Brackins (Kyle Weidie of Truth About It.net)

Vote in our poll about whom you would take at No. 7 if you were in charge.