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Archive → May, 2012

Brandon Knight makes the All-Rookie First Team

Brandon Knight can call himself an All-Rookie First Teamer. Barely. The voting, as you can see below via NBA.com, was incredibly close as Knight tied with Kawhi Leonard and Iman Shumpert with 40 points, although Knight got fewer first place votes than those two players.

The player who was clearly, clearly snubbed in the voting was Isaiah Thomas. He belonged on the First Team over the three who tied and over Klay Thompson as well. If I were picking just between the three who tied for that last first team spot, I would’ve picked Leonard. Gustavo Ayon of New Orleans, who only got one (!) vote was also a major snub in the voting.

Still though, I thought Knight was a deserving Second Team pick  at worst, so I’m not going to complain one bit about a Piston coming out on the positive end of awards voting for once, especially after the major injustice of sticking Greg Monroe on the Second Team last year.

Oh, and for those who think the voting was weird/unfair, this award is voted on by the league’s 30 head coaches, not the media, if you’re interested in where to address your complaints.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Will Barton

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 175 pounds, sophomore guard from Memphis
  • Key Stats: 18 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists per game while shooting 51 percent from the field and 35 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Like all Pistons fans, I’m an advocate of Detroit finding an impact big in the first round. But object 1-A on my desired wish list is an athletic wing who can legitimately push Tayshaun Prince for minutes. Barton is a player who would fit that bill if he slips to the Pistons in round two.

Pros for the Pistons

I love guys who show big-time improvement, and that’s exactly what Barton did from his freshman to sophomore season at Memphis. His overall field goal percentage jumped from 43 to 51 percent and his 3-point shooting jumped from 27 to 35 percent in increased minutes. I also like that Barton got more selective with his long range shot. He shot more threes as a freshman than he did as a sophomore, but in his second college season he improved his percentage by shooting the three less without eliminating it from his repertoire altogether.

He’s also a good rebounder for his size, collecting eight per game. He might not be a guy who is ready to start from day one in the NBA, but he has a nice mix of perimeter skills and versatility, plus has shown that he works at his game and still has a lot of room to grow.

Cons for the Pistons

Although he’s not Austin Daye-skinny, Barton does need to get stronger. That’s the good (or salvageable, I should say) thing about having Prince signed long-term. There wouldn’t be pressure on a player like Barton to take over that position right away. Prince could still get the bulk of the minutes while a hard-working player like Barton could, hopefully, get stronger and chip away, gradually earning a bigger role as he’s physically ready for it.

It’s good that Barton’s shooting improved, but with one bad season shooting the ball from three and one decent season, that’s still kind of a small sample size to declare that his shooting woes from outside are behind him. If he’s going to be a NBA rotation player, him being able to knock down the three, especially on a team like the Pistons that needs more long range threats to get better floor spacing, is going to be vital.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

The Good: Barton is one of the smoothest scorers in college basketball. He can score from anywhere on the floor and can get buckets in a hurry. His long, lanky frame makes him a tough guard. He can be a game-changing defender on the perimeter and is an excellent rebounder for his size.

The Bad: He needs to add strength and he could be more consistent from 3-point range. Occasionally he falls back into the bad habits he had as a freshman.

The Upside: Barton has grown tremendously this season. He’s developed a lethal midrange game, has dramatically improved his rebounding numbers and cut way down on turnovers and bad shots. A few NBA scouts have him in the late teens to early 20s on their boards.

DraftExpress:

Barton’s focus on attacking the basket has also led to him getting to the free throw line at a much higher rate. His handle could still use some tightening up, but he’s utilizing his quick first step and rangy strides to get to the rim and is also more active on the offensive glass and with cuts in the basket area. His nine free throw attempts per-40 ranks him second amongst all wing prospects in our database. Despite this increased emphasis on getting to the basket, he’s nearly cut his turnover rate in half from last season, which is quite impressive.

NBADraft.net:

NBADraft.net: You were one of the best rebounding wings in college last season. What do you think separates you from other players your size in that regard?

Will Barton: Determination and will. I have a knack for finding the ball. I like to rebound because at my position I’m able to push it. If a big man gets a rebound then he usually has to find an outlet. If I get the rebound then it’s an automatic fast break. I love having the ball in my hands and getting out on the break. It is really just determination and will to get my team extra possessions and limiting other teams’ possessions. I’ll do anything for my team to win.

What is the best thing Will Barton does for his team?

Frank Murtaugh (follow him on Twitter) writes for Tiger Blue, the Memphis Flyer‘s Memphis Tigers blog:

The fabled “intangibles” that made Will Barton an All-America candidate — and Conference USA’s Player of the Year — as a sophomore in 2011-12 will be his greatest asset on draft boards. Ironically, they could be viewed as his greatest weakness, too. Barton did everything his Memphis Tigers needed last winter, including lead the team in rebounding (8.0 per game) despite weighing 175 pounds soaking wet. A natural, if at times unorthodox scorer (in the mold of his Memphis predecessor, Chris Douglas-Roberts), Barton led C-USA with 18.0 points per game. But he can’t be called a pure shooter, is too small for any kind of post presence, and doesn’t have the ball-handling skills to break down the kind of pressure defense he’ll face in the NBA. Barton, simply put, is a basketball player who finds his way (literally, on the floor, and on a larger scale of player development). He wears his emotions as visibly as his headband. If he’s able to find a comfortable role with an NBA team, he’ll be a fan favorite.

NOTE: He’s most often compared to Rip Hamilton, largely because of his thin body type. But Barton isn’t in the same category of shooter as Hamilton. Not really close.

Previously

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Furkan Aldemir

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, 20-year-old PF/C from Turkey
  • Key Stats: 8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, .9 blocks in 20 minutes per game while shooting 61 percent in Turkish league
  • Projected: Second round

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

This year’s draft isn’t loaded with international prospects, but there are a lot of guys in the second round like Aldemir who are big, young and unknown. Whoever the Pistons take with the second of their two second rounders is probably a longshot to make next year’s roster anyway. It might make more sense to look at a raw international player who will stay overseas for a couple years and potentially develop. Plus, Pistons fans would definitely love to have a guy called ‘Mr. Rebound.’

Pros for the Pistons

Aldemir is a banger who likes to stay around the basket and according to scouts, is a good rebounder. That’s exactly the type of player the Pistons (and just about every team) could use. At just 20-years-old, there’s also a good chance that Aldemir can add some bulk to his frame.

Cons for the Pistons

If Aldemir doesn’t get stronger, he’s probably a longshot to play meaningful minutes in the NBA. Most scouting reports describe him as a player who likes to be in the paint and around the basket fighting for the ball. At 220 pounds, it’s just not realistic to expect that that would end well for him in the NBA without getting significantly stronger. Still though, whoever the Pistons use that late second round pick on will have an uphill battle to make a roster that could be crowded if Jason Maxiell exercises his option, Vernon Macklin is re-signed, Kyle Singler comes over from Spain and Ben Wallace decides to play another year. It makes a lot of sense to take and stash a foreign player or a college player willing to go overseas.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Aldemir is one of the best rebounders in the Euroleague, but the rest of his game still needs a lot of work. He’s undersized for his position, isn’t an elite athlete and isn’t a great scorer inside or outside. But rebounding does seem to translate at the next level and that alone could make him a late first or second round pick.

Euro Hopes:

He is a rebound specialist. Has great positions on defense but specially on offense to grab rebounds. Boxes out very well, and uses his big wingspan to catch a lot. Using his skills he also blocks many shots. He is a good defender, over center and power-forwards also. Has mobility, being smart. On ofense he knows how to move without ball. Very dangerous receiving the ball inside the paint, using his wingspan to dunk o score lay-ups easy. On transition he runs very well fastbreak, and also backwards recovering on defense.

European Prospects:

Aldemir has still a lot of parts in his game where has to progress. So far, he has no outside game at all. We do not speak about a lacking jump shot around the paint but he feels not very comfortable when getting the ball out of position. He showed some problems to execute well a hand off situation where the guard did not pick up the ball and he had to play the dribble entry from outside. In the paint, his shooting touch is looking good but it would help him if he could come up with a bit more explosiveness on his finishes as he often prefers the layup to the dunk when he has a defender in front of him.

What is the best thing Furkan Aldemir does for his team?

Sam Meyerkopf (follow him on Twitter) is the co-creator of EuroLeague Adventures:

Furkan Aldemir had a breakthrough year in Europe and turned himself into a potential rotation post player in the NBA. He’s a below the rim big man who will earn his first few salaries off of his rebounding prowess and solid roll game off of pick and rolls. His offensive game stays within seven feet of the basket, which means he doesn’t really have a jumper and doesn’t create much, if any, offense for himself. But that’s not what Aldemir is here for. He keeps his nose around the basket where driving perimeter players can dump it off to him for strong finishes or he’ll attack the offensive glass where he was one of the best in the Euroleague this year.

This season he played almost exclusively center for his Turkish club Galatasaray, averaging 6.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in just 17 minutes a game of Euroleague play. At 6’9″ he’s not quite tall enough for center in the NBA and doesn’t really have quick enough feet to be a power forward. But with power forwards continually extending further outside the line, I’ll give up a couple inches and put Aldemir in the middle of the paint.

Defensively Aldemir isn’t going to send many shots flying into the bleachers but he can hold his position in the post fairly well. Really athletic bigs or stretch fours that step away from the rim could give him trouble. His counter is that he plays with such toughness and scrappiness that he’ll be able to overcome some of these disadvantages. He’s not afraid to be rugged in the post, and his ability to gobble up rebounds will keep him on the court.

Previously

Dennis Rodman will be on Outside the Lines Sunday morning

From an ESPN press release:

In March, headlines described former NBA star Dennis Rodman as “broke” and “extremely sick.” At 51, and now a dozen years removed from his last NBA rebound, he often boasts he hasn’t had a steady job since being waived by the Dallas Mavericks in 2000. For Rodman, who has had issues with alcohol, life has never come as easily as professional basketball. Sunday, the flamboyant Hall of Famer speaks candidly about life after basketball, and about allegations that he’s an alcoholic. Mark Schwarz reports.

Sunday’s guests will include Kurt Rambis, who coached Rodman on the Lakers in 1999, and Tim Keown who co-wrote “Bad As I Wanna Be,” the 1997 best-selling autobiography.

“I been hearing that for years — I’ve been hearing that I’m a cokehead, I’m a drug head.  Everyone knows that I like to have a good time. If you see me drinking, ok great. I drink! If you see me having sex every day, oh, I’m an addict. I’ve looked death in the eyes. And I say one day I could probably drink to a point where it’s like I won’t wake up.” – Dennis Rodman

“I started to go out to dinner for free. I started to get cars and stuff like that for free. I started to get a lot of things around the country. All of a sudden I land the big one, Madonna, so it’s like, ‘Hello!!’ I started to get stuff like that.” – Dennis Rodman

Here’s a video preview of the interview. I’m sure it won’t be an easy one to watch, but it airs at 9 a.m. Eastern on ESPN if you’re up Sunday morning and want to catch it.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jeff Taylor

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, senior F from Vanderbilt
  • Key Stats: 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 49 percent and 42 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

There’s really little chance that Jeff Taylor would rise enough to be in play in the late lottery when the Pistons pick and there’s little chance he falls out of the 20s, where he’s currently projected, to the earlier of the Pistons’ second round picks. Still though, he’s the type of efficient shooting wing they should be hoping they can land in the draft. Plus, he’d give the Pistons the only two Swedish players in NBA history along with Jonas Jerebko. Any time you can become the most popular NBA team in Sweden, you have to do it, right?

Pros for the Pistons

Taylor is was of the best outside shooters in the country this season, hitting 42 percent of his threes. He’s also an explosive athlete and willing defensive player. In short, he’s about the prototypical wing the Pistons need right now as they are incredibly deficient in shooting, defense and athleticism on their wings right now. Not only would Taylor’s shooting ability stretch the floor and open lanes for Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight, who are both much better in a faster tempo than in the halfcourt, but he would be able to run with them and finish.

Cons for the Pistons

Taylor’s not the best at creating off the dribble, which wouldn’t be much of an issue in Detroit since Stuckey, Knight and Tayshaun Prince handle that. The bigger issue with Taylor is simply his availability. As I said above, he’s currently projected too low for the Pistons to consider him in the lottery and too high for them to have a shot at him in the second round. But don’t sleep on him. He’s EXACTLY the type of under the radar, hard-working and productive prospect who can rise quickly with great workouts. If he does that and some of the underwhelming late lottery bigs, well, underwhelm, don’t be shocked if he plays his way into that conversation. Considering he does things that fill some very significant needs for the Pistons and that Joe Dumars has occasionally shown an inclination towards taking under the radar prospects (Stuckey, for instance), it’s maybe not out of the realm that he could play his way onto Detroit’s first round radar, depending on how the draft plays out before they pick.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

The Good: Taylor is one of the best athletes in the game. He’s an explosive leaper who excels out in transition. He has dramatically improved his jump shot over the past four years.

The Bad: He still struggles to dominate offensively at times and his aggression level can vary depending on the matchup. He’s already 22 years old, which hurts his stock a little.

The Upside: Taylor finally had the breakout year NBA scouts were hoping for as a senior. His athletic ability alone makes him a legitimate first-round prospect. If he were to land on the right team, he could have a great pro career. He’s wilted a bit in big games over the past few years. If he can take over in the tournament, he could take one more big step up the draft board.

DraftExpress:

While Taylor’s offensive game remains a work in progress, he is still an outstanding defender who should be able to contribute immediately in the NBA on that end of the floor. While his reported 6’6 wingspan is unimpressive to say the least, he has excellent lateral quickness to stay in front of all but the quickest point guards and the strength to guard four positions at the collegiate level. Furthermore, and as we have written before, his fundamentals are superb across the board, giving him the chance to be a real presence on this end of the floor at the next level.

NBADraft.net:

NBADraft.net: You are known as a defensive stopper and have been an All-SEC defender the past 2 seasons. What is it that sets you apart from other players on the defensive side of the ball?

Jeffery Taylor: I take a great deal of pride in not letting my man score. I think that is the most important thing. You have to take pride in not letting your man score and everything else takes care of itself. It isn’t all about athletic ability. I feel like defense is all about your mentality and how you approach the game.

NBADraft.net: How does it feel when you shut down the other team’s best player?

Jeffery Taylor: It feels really good. It is definitely something that has always been important to me. I take it personal if a guy scores on me. Definitely being a stopper and people being able to rely on me on the defensive end is definitely the type of player I want to be. It is the kind of player I’ve always been.

ESPN:

Taylor wasn’t flawless Sunday, but he did a lot of things to make those apathetic NBA scouts take notice. His combination of ball skills and penetrating ability comes packaged in a wide, well-built 6-foot-6 frame. His athleticism allowed him to turn one drill — in which campers were asked to catch the ball, pivot, and lay it in with their opposite hand — into a surprisingly impressive dunkfest. When campers were shown a series of three- and four-stage ball moves (“OK, this is a crossover, then a stepback, then a BIG step through the lane, and then we want a clean finish over coach, who will be standing on that chair near the goal. Everyone got it?”), perhaps only North Carolina forward Harrison Barnes and Kentucky guard Doron Lamb picked up the instruction with the same immediate ease as the Vanderbilt swingman.

What is the best thing Jeff Taylor does for his team?

Christian D’Andrea (follow him on Twitter) writes for Anchor of Gold, SB Nation’s Vanderbilt blog:

Taylor’s best attribute for the Commodores came from his defense. As a three time All-SEC defender, Taylor was counted on to cover the opposing team’s top scorer at the 1-4 positions. As a senior, he held Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to 5.7 points per game in three matchups with Kentucky and covered everyone from Kenny Boynton to Tobias Harris through his career.

While that defense made him a standout player early in his career, his work ethic was what set him apart as he developed. Taylor was always a high level athlete for the Commodores, but he had difficulty syncing those gifts to his natural talents. He improved throughout his time in Nashville to fill in the holes in his game. The most popular stat that people point to is his improved shooting; Taylor went from being a 9.1% three-point shooter to connecting on 42.3% of those shots as a senior. However, another story from earlier in his career might better showcase his dedication. After getting pushed around his sophomore year, he came back to Vanderbilt with 25 added pounds of muscle. Despite the added bulk, Taylor was more explosive than ever on the court.

Jeffery Taylor played four years at Vanderbilt and he’s shown continual improvement on the court. He’s far from a finished product, but he’s got the defensive talent and shooting to contribute right away at the NBA level. I think his value will rise since he’s got talents that will shine in individual workouts and combine type measurements, but whoever invests a pick on the senior will get a good return on their investment.

Previously

Former Piston John Salley could become a Detroit fixture again

Sandra McNeil of CBS Detroit reports that former Bad Boy John Salley could once again be a Michigan resident soon:

Salley said he’d love to return to his former home in the city’s Palmer Woods district, but he’ll probably be looking for some new digs.

“I would love to be back in there. My daughters weren’t born when I lived there and they would love to run through that house, but you know, it depends,” he said.

Regardless where he ends up living in the city, one thing is for sure, Salley just can’t wait to be back.

“I miss everything about this wonderful city. This city is going through its situations but it’s definitely a wonderful place,” he said.

If I were a betting man, based on Salley’s experience working in television, he’ll have a shot at doing some analyst work if he wants it. He’s a natural in front of the camera and pretty entertaining, so he could certainly liven up Pistons coverage at TV or radio broadcasting outlets. Oh, and if he’s interested in reviving ‘John Salley Story Corner,’ feel free to get in touch with PistonPowered.

Hat tip to commenter MNM for the link

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Henry Sims

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-10, 245 pounds, senior C from Georgetown
  • Key Stats: 11.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 blocks per game while shooting 46 percent
  • Projected: Mid to late second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

What, you really expect me to argue against the Pistons taking an unselfish, great passing big man out of Georgetown? In the second round, you could do a lot worse than a decently athletic seven-footer who has a good attitude and is used to being a backup, making it likely he could adjust to being a role player in the NBA as well. Also, along with Greg Monroe, it’s pretty cool that Sims has a support system like this to help him along.

Pros for the Pistons

Sims fills a couple of pressing needs and could be on the board when the Pistons use the second of their two second rounders. He’s big, first and foremost, at nearly 7-feet tall with a long wingspan.

He’s also pretty fast and athletic. He can catch the ball inside and score around the basket. Like the man he backed up for two seasons, Monroe, Sims is a willing and good passer for a big man, so having two bigs who are constantly looking to pass for the Pistons wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Sims also could still have some untapped upside despite being a senior. He was only a starter for one of his four seasons at Georgetown after being a pretty decently regarded high school prospect. It’s possible that he could continue improving after he finally got a more prominent opportunity to play his final year of college.

Cons for the Pistons

Sims would be a similar pick to Vernon Macklin — a player who isn’t necessarily ancient by prospect standards, but the fact that he’s played four years in college does make it less likely he’ll make a significant leap forward. Macklin showed some flashes in very brief minutes last season, but if the Pistons plan on keeping him around (he’s a free agent), he’ll have to play more this season. It probably wouldn’t make sense, if that’s the plan, to bring in a similar project like Sims, who they would need to give minutes fairly quickly to evaluate whether or not he’s capable of being a rotation player or not. If the plan is to not bring Macklin back, then I’d be all for Sims (provided the Pistons are a little more committed to getting him occasional minutes with the NBA club or in the D-League than they were with Macklin most of the season).

Sims is also only a so-so rebounder. If he can defend, finish, run the floor and block an occasional shot, a lack of rebounding from a backup big who otherwise provides energy isn’t a huge issue, but it’s still probably something teams considering drafting him will scrutinize.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Sims played well against Kansas and Memphis. He is a fluid athlete who runs the floor, can score around the basket and seems to finally, after three seasons playing a backup role at Georgetown, be ready for the spotlight. I’m always leery of older big men who suddenly break out — especially when your career game is against Memphis’ weak interior defense. But when you look at what scouts were saying about him as a high school prospect, he’s worth a closer look as a potential second-round prospect if he keeps playing like that.

DraftExpress:

From the low block, Sims relies on an assortment of drop-steps, hook shots, and turnaround jumpers, showing the ability to turn off either shoulder and finish with either hand, though his touch isn’t great with either. He has a strong tendency to extend his drop-steps under the rim, where he likes finishing with reverse lay-ups, doing a good job utilizing his length to create separation. Sims struggles operating through contact and doesn’t really have a go-to move at this stage, showing inconsistent results with all aspects of his finesse game, and it’s not likely teams at the next level would look for him to create his own offense in the post.

NBADraft.net:

Sims emerged as one of the more unique big men in college ball, after averaging in double figures while leading his team in assists and blocked shots. Sims has great size and deceptive quickness, and possesses a feel for the rim that allows him to score in the paint. If Sims can continue developing the midrange game, he’s be able to contribute in a variety of ways to an NBA front court.

Washington Times:

“The last three years, people thought I was just wasting a scholarship,” Sims said. “It was painful to go through that for three years, not living up to what I knew I could do. I had people chirping about me, and it definitely hurt me.”

Sims returned home to Baltimore last summer and stayed longer than usual to work on his game and soak up the wisdom of his mother, Brenda.

“She told me this is your last go-around,” Sims recalled. “She said you don’t want to look back and say I wish I would have worked harder and would-have, could-have. She basically put everything into perspective. I controlled my destiny.”

Sims maintained his focus when he returned to Georgetown for his senior season.

“Some kids, it takes a while for the light to go off,” Thompson said.

Rewriting, however, can be refreshing.

“I finally feel like myself as a basketball player,” Sims said.

What is the best thing Henry Sims does for his team?

Andrew Geiger (follow him on Twitter) writes for Casual Hoya, SB Nation’s Georgetown blog:

In the highlight video below, Henry summarizes himself and teammates as follows. “We play hard from beginning to end and . . . we handle our business on and off the court.” Sims certainly did that over the past year. A late bloomer after beginning his career behind (now-Piston) Greg Monroe, Sims flourished in his senior year, displaying his full range of skills as well as impressive athleticism. Big Hank led Georgetown in both blocked shots and assists, a testament to his versatility and a remarkable achievement even in a Georgetown offense that features its big men. Sims not only clogged the lane on defense but also was its vocal leader, directing a defense that ranked in the top ten nationally. Having stepped into the role of senior leader, Sims also stepped up his game on a bigger stage, putting up consecutive 20-10s in the Big East Tournament. In all, Sims is a skilled, athletic big man who’s still just scratching the surface of his ability.

Previously

Left-handed Greg Monroe actually right-handed

Watch Greg Monroe play basketball, and, although he uses both hands effectively, he’s very clearly left-handed. Except he’s not. Monroe, via Pistons.com (hat tip: Detroit Free Press):

When I first learned how to shoot, my father just told me to shoot with my left hand, and ever since then, I’ve just been a left-handed shooter.

That’s the way I’ve been playing my whole life. I didn’t realize it until I was older. When he was teaching me how to shoot, I was a really young kid. So I didn’t realize that I was actually right-handed. It’s worked out for me so far. I just got to continue to get better with both hands.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jared Sullinger

Note: Ian Levy at Hickory High has started his awesome similarity scores for prospects again. I’m going back and adding links to previous #DraftDreams profiles who have similarity scores available and will continue to add them from this point forward.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 265pounds, sophomore F/C from Ohio State
  • Key Stats: 17.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 52 percent
  • Projected: Mid to late lottery
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Other than the fact that Sullinger has frequently been mentioned as a strong possibility for the Pistons if the lottery shakes out as predicted, I’ve started to become more enthused about Sullinger as he’s seemingly become more undervalued.

A year ago, had he declared, he would’ve been in the No. 1 pick conversation. When he decided to stay in school, it was assumed that he’d take another huge leap forward and cement himself as a top three pick. Instead, he improved incrementally as a sophomore, gave scouts more time to nit-pick his weaknesses and he’s plummeted towards the bottom of the lottery in most mocks. I’m at the point where, even thought he Pistons could use a more athletic player, I think Sullinger would represent pretty good value if he’s available where the Pistons are likely to pick.

Pros for the Pistons

Do you like rebounds? Because Sullinger grabbed nearly a quarter of all available defensive rebounds when he was on the floor for Ohio State the last two seasons. He gets good position on the glass and he seems to have the instincts going after the ball that most good rebounders possess.

He’s also worked on his game. His stats didn’t make a huge leap from freshman to sophomore season, but he did work to get himself into better shape as a sophomore and he did extend his range out past the 3-point line (he didn’t take a ton of threes, but he hit 40 percent of his 40 attempts out there this season after only attempting 12 threes as a freshman). Also, via Tony Manfred of Business Insider:

Once you dive into the stats, you find that Sullinger is stunningly similar to Love as a college player.

Now, I think it’s pretty crazy to draft Sullinger expecting he’ll morph into a top five player the way Love did. But Love is the best example of a player who was knocked around a bit by scouts for being short and pudgy for his position despite great production during his one college season, and that hasn’t been a problem for him in the NBA. Sullinger is short for his position and has had questions about his conditioning, but it’s hard to ignore his production, particularly on the glass.

Cons for the Pistons

As a fan of Big Ten hoops, I watched a lot of Ohio State the last two seasons. I was down on Sullinger at times, mostly because of his defense. I’m not sure he has the lateral quickness to stay in front of bigs who can put the ball on the floor. Against Michigan State, for example, Sullinger was beat off the dribble a couple times by Derrick Nix, who no one will ever mistake for Chris Bosh or Amar’e Stoudemire. The Pistons already have a porous frontcourt defense, and Sullinger won’t address that need I don’t think.

Although he blocked the occasional shot in college, he’s not the rim protector the Pistons lack, either. A Sullinger-Greg Monroe frontline certainly has its attractive qualities (boards, boards, boards), but it would also give the Pistons a starting frontcourt with really limited athleticism.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Sullinger has been one of the two or three most dominant big men in the NCAA the past two years. He’s a load in the paint and excels both as a scorer and as a rebounder. His thick frame allows him to get and keep great position on the block. He’s one of the NCAA’s best scorers with his back to the basket. He has a very high basketball IQ and it shows at both ends. He’s very skilled for a player his age, has terrific hands and shows advanced post moves around the basket. He also continues to improve his face-the-basket game and can even shoot the 3 when called upon. Defensively, he’s one of the top rebounders in college basketball. His 30.39 PER ranked 10th among current college players.

Nevertheless, there are major question marks for Sullinger. Despite his slimmed-down physique, Sullinger is an underwhelming athlete. He plays mostly below the rim, doesn’t move well laterally and at times still struggles with his conditioning. What complicates matters is that Sullinger is severely undersized for his most natural position (center) and even undersized for the 4 at the next level. His long arms make up some of that difference, but it’s been pretty clear for the past two seasons that Sullinger struggles when playing against length.

DraftExpress:

The biggest key to Sullinger’s dominance has been the opposition’s inability to keep him outside of the paint. While he’s lost a good deal of weight, he’s still retained all of the strength in his lower body that makes him so difficult to handle one on one. With his terrific base and low center of gravity, Sullinger is constantly working to establish better post-position down low. Tough and extremely aggressive, he’s not afraid to simply put his ass into a defender and go to work until he gets to where he wants to on the floor.

NBADraft.net:

Highly refined, old school post player in a draft saturated with “potential”. His game is marked by both power and skill. Legitimate low block scorer often working his way into a high quality look (17.5 PPG on 52% FG). Master of positioning at 280 pounds and establishes early. Uses his wide body and derriere to keep defenders locked onto his hip. Tremendous lower body strength pinning his opponents into submission. Aggressively throws his weight around and unafraid to punish those in his path. Thrives on contact. Wide array of post moves on the low block, finishing over either shoulder with either hand. Footwork and understanding of angles are advanced. Soft hands and a feathery touch. Nimble elusivity for his size. He has taken strides in the face-up game, working from the elbow area in space without threat of a double. He’s a dual threat from there, either comfortably popping a mid-range jumper or attacking off the bounce with skilled handle. Quickness is not his ally, but he’s a bull in a china shop. Technically sound jump shot with smooth release.

Sports Illustrated:

“He made a good move staying in school,” one scout said. “Without all those foreign forwards in the draft next year — guys like [Jonas] Valanciunas, [Bismack] Biyombo, [Jan] Vesely, [Enes] Kanter — Sullinger can probably lock down a spot in the top five.” Evaluators will watch Sullinger’s matchups with players who have NBA-level size and length with particular interest, as the jury is still out on whether he can be an elite power forward in the pros, or just a complementary piece who uses his bulk to battle for rebounds. “He’s already a monster down low in college,” another scout said. “I think he could help himself by playing a little lighter next season, because his body was a concern coming into his freshman year, and proving he can step out into the mid-post and free-throw area and knock down shots.”

What is the best thing Jared Sullinger does for his team?

Luke Zimmerman (follow him on Twitter) writes for Land-Grant Holy Land, SB Nation’s Ohio State blog:

Sullinger is just one of those guys that makes everyone else around him better. They say “when you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” This goes especially for Jared, and unfortunately lends to some of his detractors who see him with the ceiling of a Kenny Thomas or have him unfairly prejudged as another Mike Sweetney. Sullinger has extremely soft hands that let him not only catch everything thrown within his general vicinity, but also lend in aiding him in finding the open teammate in the event of the inevitable double team. Yeah, he’s not a jump out the gym athlete, but neither is Kevin Love or Luis Scola. When other teammates are in a clear funk, Sully is particularly prone to take the weight of the situation on his back and do everything he can to finish smoothly around the basket and keep the offense flowing.

Previously

Pistons make list of SB Nation’s worst NBA slogans only twice

As marketing slogans go, the Pistons have never had any that struck me as terrible. And the original ‘Going to Work’ campaign was terrific marketing that perfectly fit the personality of the team at the time. But it’s often hard to strike the right marketing chord — examples of terrible marketing strategies are hilarious and abundant in just about any industry imaginable.

Jon Bois of SB Nation recently compiled a list of some of the worst slogans used by NBA teams, and the Pistons did make his list twice — for the ’50 seasons of hard work’ slogan in 2007-08 and the ‘We work as one’ slogan from 2008-09. But check out his entire list. Many teams made it way more than twice and a lot of those slogans are genuinely, irredeemably awful. I LOLed at Charlotte’s ‘Prepare today, own tomorrow’ slogan they used this season. Did the Bobcats really market the fact that they’d be tanking?