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Archive → May, 2011

Chad Ford’s latest mock draft: Jonas Valanciunas to the Detroit Pistons

In his most recent mock draft, Chad Ford of ESPN has the Pistons taking Jonas Valanciunas:

For the third straight week, the Pistons’ player changes. This time, it’s because of opportunity. In the past two mocks I’ve had Valanciunas going before the eighth pick. If he slides this far, I think the Pistons will grab him.

Yes, Detroit will also look at both Bismack Biyombo and Tristan Thompson here. But Valanciunas has two things the Pistons covet: size and major upside. They may have to wait on him a year, but many NBA scouts believe he’s the most talented international player in the draft.

I’d be pretty happy with that scenario. I wonder whether the possibility of losing games, or even the entire season, to a lockout would make the Pistons more likely to take a player who might not be in the NBA next year.

SLAM looks back at Joe Dumars’ playing career on his birthday

Joe Dumars turned 48-years-old today, and SLAM re-ran a magazine feature on Dumars written by Alan Paul in 2006 to commemorate Joe D’s birthday. The story discusses Dumars’ success as an exec with the Pistons, at the time, in the midst of their run as the dominant team in the Eastern Conference. But the most interesting parts are Dumars rising from little known small college player to key part of championship teams in Detroit.

Dumars, a scorer in college, talks about how he became more versatile in order to earn minutes on an already good team with established players. This passage stood out to me:

With (John) Long gone, the Detroit backcourt became Thomas and Dumars, with Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson coming in to relieve them both. It proved to be a devastating three-guard rotation, with a combined average of nearly 50 ppg and a great deal of versatility.

“I started at the two and Isiah at point guard, but all of us could play either position, which made it easy,” Dumars says. “It never fell on one guy. The first time I saw Isiah get overplayed, I went back and got the ball and he went to the two, and that’s what we did for the next 10 years.”

I’ve always felt like this experience has been the foundation for how Dumars evaluates talent as president of basketball operations. As we’ve seen, he frequently takes on players whose skillsets don’t translate seamlessly to traditional positional constraints. Sometimes, it has been pretty successful: Chauncey Billups wasn’t a traditional PG prior to signing in Detroit, Corliss Williamson wasn’t a traditional small forward or power forward and Jonas Jerebko was effective at multiple spots as a rookie. On the flip side, players like Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye, both because of inconsistent coaching and development issues, haven’t found a spot on the floor where they look totally comfortable at all times.

It’s easy to knock the Pistons for their recent results. But I think Dumars’ reasoning behind preferring versatility is a sound one that was proven to work on the Bad Boys era teams that were filled with guys who could play multiple positions and roles.

Joe Dumars’ presence could get the Detroit Pistons an interview Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter’s agent, Max Ergul, has apparently been selective about granting teams interviews with his client. But a select group of general managers, including Joe Dumars, won’t have a problem sitting down Kanter. Ergul, via Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated:

On a meeting with San Antonio (No. 29): "I think coach [Gregg] Popovich has an opinion that really matters. If [Detroit president of basketball operations] Joe Dumars or Pop calls me or [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak] and asks for an interview, I’m not going to deny that. They may or may not get him, but I will give them their seniority. They are the guys who earned it. It’s the same thing with Kevin O’Connor."

This is an overlooked advantage of having a respected general manager like Dumars, and it will never show up on a list of transactions. If Dumars meets with Kanter and then passes on him in the draft at least partially as a result of that meeting, you’ll never hear about it.

NBA star: Because of American coaches, Chris Wilcox “can barely dribble or shoot after all these years”

An anonymous NBA star, writing for ESPN, used Chris Wilcox as his example of American coaches failing their players when it comes to skill development:

A guy like the Pistons’ Chris Wilcox — who can barely dribble or shoot after all these years — simply wouldn’t slip through the cracks over there. Had he grown up in Europe, Wilcox, with his size and athleticism, would be a serious force. Players are beginning to realize that if they go overseas, even for a season, they’ll come back with more skills, and that translates into greater success and better contracts back here.

I think there’s a difference between the training European and American players receive growing up, but I’m not convinced someone like Wilcox, at his age, could play overseas for year and have his game transformed by foreign coaches.

Wilcox’s physical tools have kept him in the NBA for a long time, and they’ll keep him in the league for a while longer.  To his credit, Wilcox has worked hard in the gym to build his strength and agility.

That said, I agree with the anonymous player. If Wilcox had more refined skills to go with his athleticism, we wouldn’t be talking about a role player. We’d be talking about an All-Star.

The end of annoying ads

We recently switched ad networks on the site, and in setting up our new ads, I overlooked some basic settings. As a result, some of the sidebar spots have contained auto-play audio content and risque images, which a few readers brought to our attention. I’ve since fixed the issue, and you shouldn’t experience any more of these types of ads on this site.

There are few things on the internet that I hate more than intrusive advertisements, so I understand any frustration you may have experienced with these new ads. They help pay the bills, but our goal first and foremost here at PistonPowered is to always make great content available to our readers without interruptions or distractions. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Pistons in the mix to trade for Minnesota’s No. 2 pick, draft Derrick Williams

Chad Ford of ESPN on Derrick Williams:

The question is, who will draft him at No. 2? As I reported Tuesday, the Wolves are very open to trading the pick if they can get some veteran help. They won’t be giving the pick away, but given the youth on the team and the log jam at both forward positions, this pick is a great asset to trade for veteran help. Look for the Cavs, Jazz, Wizards, Kings, Pistons, Bobcats, Bucks, Rockets, Pacers, Sixers to all get in the mix for him in the coming weeks.

Don’t get your hopes up. That’s 10 teams interested, and Joe Dumars indicated trading picks isn’t likely, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News. Williams would certainly help the Pistons, and it’s great they’re exploring a trade. But there’s a huge difference between exploring a deal and reaching one.

Pistons like Tristan Thompson

Ford also said the Pistons are interested in Tristan Thompson, which should come as no surprise:

Texas forward Tristan Thompson quieted some critics with his measurements on Friday. He, much like Williams, was seen as an undersized power forward. His measurements (nearly 6-9 in shoes, 7-1 wingspan and 9-foot standing reach) were nearly identical to that of Derrick Williams. He also nailed the interview process, according to several NBA team sources. His window starts with the Raptors at No. 5. The Pistons, Bobcats, Bucks, Jazz and Pacers are also all seriously interested. He looks like he’s a lock for the lottery.

Jordan Hamilton could push better prospect to No. 8

One more note from Ford’s blog post:

I expect we’ll be seeing Texas’ Jordan Hamilton rising on boards in the next few weeks. NBA scouts have always loved his talent. They believe he’s one of the few guys in this draft who could average 20 ppg in the NBA. He measured well for a small forward (6-8 with an 8-8 standing reach) and I’m told he was very good in interviews. If teams feel confident that he’ll mature and quit taking crazy shots, he’s a very interesting prospect who could go as high as the Kings at No. 7.

Currently, no major mock drafts have Hamilton going before the Pistons pick at No. 8. I don’t think Hamilton deserves to go in the upper half of the lottery, and he certainly doesn’t fill a glaring need for Detroit. So, if the Kings want to take him at No. 7, I’m all for it. That would just leave someone more desirable for the Pistons.

Who will be available for Pistons at No. 8?

Speculating about whom the Pistons will draft is good fun, but first, we must identify which players will most likely be available for their No. 8 pick. I’ve compiled several mock drafts (listed at the end of this post) and charted how often each player is taken before No. 8. I plan to update the chart as the draft approaches.

The sections of the bars are color-coded by pick number. The darker the section, the higher the pick. So, the darker a player’s bar, the less likely he slips to No. 8, according to the mocks.


Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Tristan Thompson

Last season, with the Pistons picking seventh overall, most experts believed the Pistons would end up with North Carolina’s Ed Davis, a solid but decidedly unsexy pick. We of course know that instead, fate (and the braintrust of the Golden State Warriors) intervened and allowed Greg Monroe to fall to that seven spot. This season, with the Pistons picking eighth, a consensus seems to be building that the team will end up with Tristan Thompson, a fine player out of Texas but, like Davis, not a particularly well-known one. We’ll see if it actually plays out that way, but we might as well take a look at Thompson with his name so heavily associated with Detroit over the last week.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, freshman F from Texas

Key stats: 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 55 percent

Projected: Lottery

How would he help the Pistons?

Thompson is one of a handful of lottery-level frontcourt players who would compliment Monroe simply because of athleticism. As we saw with Monroe last season, he’s a crafty player with quick hands, but he’s not a leaper or shot-blocker and he doesn’t have a lot of lateral quickness on defense. Finding a player who can jump, protect the rim, run the floor and finish would add a much-needed dimension to the Pistons. Thompson has a long wingspan, which allows him to block shots despite being a bit undersized (he measured just under 6-foot-9 at the combine). The fact that he’s left-handed like Monroe would also make the Pistons potential starting frontcourt a unique matchup problem if both Thompson and Monroe developed as post players on offense.

Thompson isn’t the most refined player on offense, but the good part about his game is he doesn’t try to do too much. He doesn’t over-dribble, he has an extremely quick first-step and he typically just makes a quick, decisive move and uses that explosion to get to the basket. Thompson is really active without the ball on offense, and as we saw last season with the Monroe and Chris Wilcox combo, Monroe frequently found the active Wilcox cutting to the basket. Adding Thompson and a healthy Jonas Jerebko around Monroe next year should ensure that the Pistons’ cutters are always being found for easy shots.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

Along with his height, Thompson has some definite areas to improve. He has very little range as most of his points come right around the basket. In fact, he might not even have range out to the free throw line. He only shot about 49 percent there for the season. He’s also too light for the NBA paint and needs to add some bulk, which would help him back down opponents easier and not have to rely solely on trying to explode past everyone.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

His ability to move without the ball, in particular, is promising to his early NBA prospects, as he will not likely have many plays run for him until he develops further. He is most effective cutting to the basket and finishing off of dump passes and lobs at this point. Texas rarely utilized him in the pick-and-roll, but he looked very solid in limited possessions where he showcased his quickness and mobility—something that could become a staple of his game in the NBA.

From ESPN:

Another year at Texas would really help his game. But his draft stock? I don’t think it will ever be higher. Teams are looking for tough, athletic, versatile forwards. Thompson’s work on the offensive boards alone should get him into the lottery. Right now, folks are willing to overlook the flaws in his game. If the flaws persisted over another year at Texas, I’m not sure they’d do it again.

From NBADraft.net:

He has an extremely quick second jump, and he is able to time his attack and get his hands on a high percentage of missed shots … His length also posses problems on the defensive end, as he is able to recover quickly or slide over from the weakside to block and contest shots around the basket

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Here’s a breakdown of how Ian Levy from Hickory High came up with his similarity scores.

Previously

Dennis Rodman thinks Lady Gaga is unoriginal, also plans to use glitter in his Hall of Fame entrance

ESPN’s J.A. Adande caught up with Rodman Sunday night in Miami at, not surprisingly, a bikini contest at a bar. For at least the second time this month, Rodman promised that Hall of Fame week is not going to be boring. Here’s what he told Adande:

“I just roam around the world, do my thing. You see me on TV doing this, see me doing that. It’s amazing that after all these years — I retired at 38 years old [in 2000] –people are still talking about me. All the players have been around the league the last 10-15 years, people don’t give a [bleep] about it. Out of all the guys in the world, they say ‘He’s a troublemaker he’s an [expletive] he did this, he did that, he skipped practice, he was late this…. ‘ I’m still being talked about. And then make the Hall of Fame.”

He promises a Hall of Fame entrance like no other. He mentioned a float…and glitter…and six costume changes.

Adande also mentions that Rodman sought out Adande in the bar, not the other way around, proving that Dennis is still ever mindful of self-promotion opportunities. Oh, and then, because hell, why not?, Adande asked Rodman for his thoughts on Lady Gaga:

I wondered what he thought of Lady Gaga, the latest fame creature. Rodman called Lady Gaga “An imitation of something that’s been done already.”

Yes, Rodman knew the original, Madonna, intimately.

Jonas Valanciunas has “huge fans” in the Detroit Pistons’ front office

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, writing for Yahoo! Sports (emphasis mine):

Rytas has taken a major step forward in resolving the buyout issue in recent days by hiring a European lawyer with significant experience in NBA buyout negotiations. According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Rytas will attempt to structure the buyout on a sliding scale depending on where he gets picked, and are willing to be flexible with Valanciunas on when he can leave the team in case of an NBA lockout, even giving him the opportunity to stay with the team until he signs his rookie contract.

If his buyout situation will be resolved in a timely fashion, look for Valanciunas to be drafted somewhere between Nos. 3 and 8 overall. He’s ahead of Enes Kanter on both Cleveland and Toronto’s boards according to reports and has huge fans in Detroit’s front office as well.

Valanciunas has three more years on his contract after this current season, with no buyout option. His American agent Leon Rose of CAA has been negotiating with the team for the better part of the year Most of the dispute revolves around when the buyout will be paid. The team, which is in serious financial trouble, wants the money now, not when he joins the NBA.

For those who don’t know much about Valanciunas, Givony explains why teams like the Pistons are so intrigued:

At 6-11, with a reported 7-6 wingspan and a Joakim Noah-type motor, he’s the type of prospect NBA teams have a difficult time getting their hands on outside of the draft.

I don’t expect Valanciunas to last until the eighth pick, but I’d be thrilled if the Pistons draft him.