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The Pistons’ long and illustrious history of drafting great people every year

In the wake of the Pistons drafting Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler and Vernon Macklin, my Google Reader has been full of articles praising the Pistons’ draft class for its character, work ethic, toughness, effort, leadership, intelligence, hustle, grit and competitiveness. Even more articles followed the introductory press conference.

You’d think the Pistons had never drafted a good person before.

Except they have. Every year, in fact. Apparently, Joe Dumars has ever drafted less than a stand-up individual. Now, maybe some of his draft picks have had issues in the past. But that was before the Pistons drafted them. At that point, their troubles were clearly behind them.

Don’t believe me? Look at what the Pistons said themselves each year of the Dumars era.

2000

Mateen Cleaves

Joe Dumars, via Chris McCosky of The Detroit News:

"His biggest asset is his leadership — and anybody who underestimates that (doesn’t) understand what’s going on. We need his toughness, his energy and his enthusiasm."

2001

Rodney White

A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive.com:

Dumars said earlier this week that, if push came to shove, talent would trump toughness on draft night.

He apparently got both in White.

Rick Carlisle, via McCosky:

"What we were told over and over was, he loves to play, he loves to work and be in the gym, he wants to get better and he wants to win. Those are the types of qualities Joe is looking for in the guys he brings to this team."

White, via McCosky:

"I am a hard worker and I think that’s what Joe Dumars was impressed with."

2002

Tayshaun Prince

Dumars, via Blakely:

"He knows how to carry himself, and that’s probably more than just basketball. That’s what four years of college has done for him. He’ll walk in here and know how to handle himself."

Dumars, via McCosky:

"The talent is evident, but in terms of development and whether a player will be a success or not, a great deal of that comes from what a person has within. … That’s why you hear me talking so much about what he possesses inside. He has a great foundation and a great background. This is the type of people we want to bring to the Detroit Pistons."

2003

Darko Milicic

Then-Pistons vice president of basketball operations John Hammond, via the Associated Press:

"I think this guy is extremely tough. He’s a fighter."

Dumars, via the Associated Press:

Dumars said he would be surprised if Milicic fails to handle the pressure, expectations and newfound riches in a foreign country.

"I’m telling you, he’s a different type of 18-year-old," Dumars said. "When you’re living through wars and you’ve been on your own in an apartment since you’re 14 years old, that tends to make you mature a lot faster."

2004

Rickey Paulding

Hammond:

“Rickey Paulding, knowing the kind of a man he is, the family that he comes from and the support that he’ll have, it’s great for him to be here.”

2005

Jason Maxiell

Pistons director of scouting George David, via Blakely:

"He was the toughest kid in the draft," said George David, Detroit’s director of scouting. "I don’t know if there was a kid that we thought would fit the mold of this team any better than that kid."

Dumars, via McCosky:

"When you are picking as far down as we were (26th overall) and with the type of team we have, the most critical thing becomes making sure you add somebody that fits into your culture and environment," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "We feel this guy has the same DNA as the rest of the Pistons."

2006

Will Blalock

Dumars, via Peter May of The Boston Globe:

"Will has come in and played with toughness, confidence, and poise. He has fit in well here with our guys."

2007

Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo

Dumars, via Joanne C. Gerstner of The Detroit News:

"I feel very confident about these two young men," Dumars said. "These two guys are not about the hype. They’re not about all the sizzle, but they get it done.

"And that’s what I am looking for … they’ll represent toughness, they’ll represent Detroit well."

Dumars, via Blakely:

“We will continue to bring in young guys like this who are mature and mentally and physically ready to step on the floor and compete."

Arron Afflalo

Dumars, via McCosky:

"He’s a tough guy, a fighter, a guy who competes and is a winner. That’s what appealed to me," Dumars said of Afflalo.

2008

Walter Sharpe

Dumars, via Pistons.com via Dave Dial of MLive.com:

Dumars said he’s talked to "more people in Alabama than I care to remember" and is perfectly convinced Sharpe has a firm grip on his life now.

2009

Austin Daye

Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press on Dumars:

But he made it clear that he tabbed 6-foot-11 forward Austin Daye 15th overall not only for what he could do on the court, but also for what he won’t do away from the court. He won’t show up late on game days or late to the airport for flights. He won’t show up authority if he disagrees with a coaching decision.

"Never again will I allow us to be in a position where we’re dealing with issues, where we’re dealing with drama," said Dumars.

in choosing Daye, he sent a message that the Pistons need to correct a deficiency in attitude as well as an absence of pure talent.

Dumars, via McCosky:

"He is an extremely smart player and a very high character guy. We think he is a player who will represent the Pistons both on and off the court."

Dumars, via Blakely:

"Two things that I talked to my staff about as soon as the season was over," Dumars said. "We had to increase our talent base and I want character guys every time we take somebody from now on. With Austin Daye, we cover ourselves with both of those things."

2010

Greg Monroe and Terrico White

Dumars, via Langlois:

“I think what you’re also going to find out is two very humble, down-to-earth young guys, handle themselves extremely well, good guys, have their heads on straight.

“I think they’re going to make this organization proud, they’re going to make their family, their friends – everybody they represent – they’re going to make them proud. They’re going to make the Pistons proud on and off the court and that’s important to us.”

Greg Monroe

Perry, via Langlois:

“he’ll be a great teammate. The guy is about trying to win and do the right things. He’ll be a good representative for us on and off the court.”

“The kid came in in a suit and tie, was dressed as a professional already,” Perry said. “He looked everyone in the eye when he had an opportunity to answer questions. That wasn’t a surprise at all. In talking to (Georgetown) coach (John) Thomspon, too, he said he reminds me as a kid off the court of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert – no maintenance at all. My having a personal relationship with Jeff Green” – Perry was assistant general manager in Seattle when the Sonics drafted Green in 2007 – “that resonates with me. I always tell people around here that Jeff is one of the best young men I’ve ever been around, whether in coaching or here in the NBA. When he said that, that spoke volumes.”

The point of this post

I’m not saying Knight, Singler and Macklin aren’t high-character individuals. They probably are.

But they have to prove that every day, not by having their new bosses vouch for them in a press conference.

26 Comments

  • Jun 27, 20111:11 pm
    by Mr.Peabody

    Reply

    Stuckey and Hamilton really showed what high character individuals they were last year.

  • Jun 27, 20111:21 pm
    by RandomGuy313

    Reply

    Thanks for ruining my lunch DF!! I don’t know what’s worse this litany of draft picks or a Kathy Bates jacuzzi scene.

    Nevertherless, talent wills out and with the exception of Walter Sharpe and Terrico White, JoeD has equated himself well with identifying the talent. The players selected by no means are all stars at this time; but they are functional pieces that add to a teams value.

    #Knight: In regards to statistics and how BK will fit, I was at least encouraged by looking at his season stats. If you look at his season in halves (38/2=19), BK began trending upward in a couple areas of concern to most of the posters; assist and turnovers. His first 19 games saw him avg 3.7 assists to 3.3 turnovers; but the last half, including SEC and NCAA tourney, his assists jumped to 4.63 and turnovers went to 3.0.

    I understand that these numbers may not jump out at you, but to me it at least speaks to his ability to progress.

    • Jun 27, 20113:37 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Re: Knight, that’s definitely the best argument in his favor for his college career. He got better as the season went on, and he saved his best moments for the tourney. That no doubt helped his draft stock.

    • Jun 28, 201112:31 am
      by MrHappyMushroom

      Reply

      I’m not sure about two things–one, the assumption that Joe has “equated himself well” with identifying the talent.  Cleaves, Darko, Rodney White, and a few others were not good picks.  Tay and Monroe, obviously, were.  A mixed bag.
       
      But I really don’t get why Terrico White would be lumped with Walter Sharpe as the only two examples of awful picks.  Sharpe was a moronic choice. But White was hurt in the first couple of minutes of his first game.  Summer League doesn’t matter much, but at very least she showed some promise there.  Really, he’s no more a score or a bust than Singler or Knight at this point.1

      • Jun 28, 201110:49 am
        by RandomGuy313

        Reply

        @MrHappyMushroom: my apologies; sometimes when I convey whats in my head to what I write I forget to include information. From 2007 til now Dumars has done a solid job of identifying talent. Stuckey has flaws but he is an above average player  that still has room to grow. Afflalo has done a great job in Denver especially his ability to knock down threes and play tough D. Austin Daye and Monroe are good pieces that will benefit a rotation plus they still have room to grow as well.

        #Terrico White: he will not get playing time. Drafting BK all but sealed his fate. He may still have ability but right now he has not shown anything, thus the reason for including him with Sharpe.

  • Jun 27, 20111:52 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    Why don’t you put where these guys were drafted next to it.  Makes the list even more impressive.

  • Jun 27, 20112:46 pm
    by RyanK

    Reply

    The Pistons always have been a propaganda machine.  If you read the stuff Langlois writes, it’s mind boggling just how much he’s part of the marketing team verses being a real reporter.  People who don’t realize he’s on the Pistons payroll might actually think there’s a grain of fact in his articles.
    Joe D is the first guy to admit nothing is for certain in the draft.  He’s really done a good job digging out value with non-lottery picks.  With lottery picks I’d give him a C- at best…a lot of it will be based on Brandon Knight’s performance.
    Joe’s ability to make good trades (for the most part) has more than off-set his past mistakes in the draft.  Cleaves and Darko were both spun into something useful…Cleave became John Barry and a pick which ultimately turning into part of Sheed.  Darko became Stuckey.  So to say no value came to the Pistons is totally ignorant.
    Joe has been a good GM, but he also is a good salesman.

    • Jun 27, 20113:06 pm
      by Jason

      Reply

      Well said Ryan.

      I agree with you on Langlois that you need to watch out what Langlois says but I 100% disagree with you about not being able to find value in his articles.  You have to remember he has more access to the organization then most(maybe everyone) who write on the Pistons.  Just my two cents.

      Agree with you Dumars.  His good decisions greatly outweigh his bad decisions.  Disregarding the ownership issues he has put out teams that before the ball is jumped I think can win.  Thats all that matters to me.  Personally I cannot stand people in the media who nitpick at Dumars.  Or even look at the Tigers.  Its a joke some of these articles who think Leyland is not doing a good job.   Its a disgrace to Detroit media.

      This article is completely nitpicking!

      • Jun 27, 20113:39 pm
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        “This article is completely nitpicking!”

        Nitpicking what? It doesn’t say anything about whether these guys were good or bad picks.

        • Jun 27, 20113:52 pm
          by Jason

          Reply

          Come on dude.  Your objective was obvious.  Man up to your rhetoric.

          • Jun 27, 20114:00 pm
            by Patrick Hayes

            Well, I didn’t write it, first of all. Second of all, I think the objective is to say character has always played a role in who the Pistons draft, but because of the nature of draft picks (namely, it’s hard to predict how personalities will change/evolve/whatever after becoming professionals), it’s hard to say whether the ‘character’ traits will ever have the desired impact. It says nothing about these guys being good or bad picks. It says nothing about drafting guys of good character being wrong. It just lays out a fact that it’s really hard to know what someone’s character is like this early in their career.

          • Jun 27, 20114:46 pm
            by Dan Feldman

            Jason, let’s make it simple. What in the article do you disagree with?

    • Jun 27, 20113:28 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      @Ryan:

      “So to say no value came to the Pistons is totally ignorant.”

      Who said no value came to the Pistons? Not sure what that is in response to.

      • Jun 27, 20114:11 pm
        by RyanK

        Reply

        @ Patrick: That comment is only partially targeting your article.  Obviously the way you assembled it has a tone of dragging Joe D’s draft history through the mud.  The comment also targets how the media portrays the situation…shaping how fans in general think about the situation.  Joe D turned a bad situation into something of value for the team…in the case of Cleaves it was instrumental in us winning a championship.
        Joe D has made drafting mistakes, but lets give him credit for rectifying the two of the three worst decisions he made.  If only CBill-AI had worked out better than Gordon/CV I would say Joe has fixed all three of his worst mistakes.
         
        @ Jason: I didn’t say Langlois articles are valueless…it actually is a place to get some ra-ra material for a true fan.  But you will rarely find anything that has a negative slant.  There’s been more negative than positive of late, so if you want the real story you are not going to find it on pistons.com.  I actually think Langlois reads some of my stuff from time to time because he’s taken off the Hooper outfit when I’ve called him out on it.

        • Jun 27, 20114:17 pm
          by Patrick Hayes

          Reply

          Again, as I pointed out above, I didn’t write it, Dan Feldman did. I’m just commenting on it b/c I find the topic interesting.

          I don’t think there’s been a writer who has done a better job of defending Dumars and what he’s meant to this organization over the years than Dan Feldman, to be honest, and I don’t understand how this is in any way a shot at Dumars’ ability as a GM. It’s more, at least how I read it, just pointing out that even though ‘character’ was the big talking point around this year’s draft picks, that’s not really a new shift or something, as has been portrayed in the coverage the last few days. The Pistons have always talked up character in who they draft. I suspect most teams are similar in that regard, but most teams also didn’t have the significant character issues in their locker room that the Pistons did last season.

        • Jun 27, 20114:23 pm
          by Jason

          Reply

          @ Ryan K
          What website is yours?  Overall I think Langlois is a good source for information.  I really like his Q&A.  But yes we do need to understand he is paid by the Pistons.

    • Jun 27, 20114:46 pm
      by Dan Feldman

      Reply

      Ryan, the Pistons are no more of a propaganda machine than other teams. That’s just the nature of the business. The Pistons just look worse to Detroit fans, because we’re more attune to their spin efforts.

  • Jun 27, 20113:27 pm
    by inigo montoya

    Reply

    I knew I heard some of the same things about character this year as I did 2 years ago or more.
    Sure Joe D. is going to try to put the best spin on the draft, all GMs do.  

    It was interesting to see the trend of this over the years, good work.  Thanks for the tabulation.

    • Jun 27, 20113:42 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Character is hard to gauge simply because guys are always putting their best foot forward pre-draft, trying to say the right things, do the right things, play hard in workouts, etc. It’s impossible to predict how money or added pressures or poor chemistry or poor coaching or the dozens of other factors that happen in the NBA can impact or change values and character.

      I hope this year’s picks have the impact that Dumars hopes they do in the locker room, but as this shows, personality is one of the harder things to project when it comes to the draft.

  • Jun 27, 20119:24 pm
    by RyanK

    Reply

    @ Dan: Agreed
     
    @ Jason: I’m on PASPN.net, but direct emails are what I’m referring to.

  • Jun 27, 20119:28 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    a person’s teammates always know what kind of player they are and what kind of character they have.

  • Jun 27, 201111:17 pm
    by C-Foe

    Reply

    So what do we expect Joe Dumars to say at a press conference or to the media after the draft? 

    Joe D: “When we were up at 8, all of the players we REALLY wanted were gone.  We tried to trade out because 8 was too high to pick him. We couldn’t find any suckers to trade draft spots, so we were stuck with Brandon Knight.” 

    If he says that, Pistons fans are demanding his resignation the next day and I’m sure we would see a worse “bitter beer face” from Brandon than the one we saw on draft night.

  • Jun 28, 20111:53 am
    by Ryan

    Reply

    “Darko is extremely tough”

    and

    “He’s a different type of 18 year old”

    Wow, this is great.  Never knew that was actually said about Darko.

  • Jun 28, 201111:08 am
    by Scott

    Reply

    Just the mention of Darko MiliBITCH makes me sick to my stomach.

  • Jun 28, 201110:53 pm
    by Wes

    Reply

    So have these guys been out getting DUI’s or getting into fights at strip clubs? They seem like generally good guys to me.

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