Archive → June, 2012
In addition to Casper Ware, Yancy Gates and Armon Johnson will join the Pistons’ summer-league team, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.
Joe Dumars discussed Darko Milicic this week, within the context of the background work he now does on draft prospects like Andre Drummond. Dumars said that, “”After I drafted Darko, from that point on, the amount of background we do on every single player that you see us draft is ridiculous. We do as much or more background than any other team in the NBA because of that.”
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie got back into the reasoning at the time for Milicic:
In a moment West had to deal the dual indignities of both losing out on LeBron James, by one grab of a lottery ball, but also losing out on his lottery pick altogether. And that Grizzlies team, even before hiring coach Hubie Brown a few months into the 2002-03 season, earned that pick.
The problem here is that Dumars told anyone that would listen — and this was in May, mind you — that the Pistons would be using the top overall pick on Darko. Didn’t look seriously into trading down, didn’t run another month’s worth of background checks. Didn’t exactly go in unfamiliar about the guy, but could have done more.
The problem here is that so, so many other teams would have done the same. Even if Wade and Anthony were just a few months removed from shining in their trips to the Final Four.
Milicic was that highly-regarded, so to pass it off as the Pistons acting alone or that “Tayshaun Prince played well out of nowhere for Detroit in the 2003 playoffs, so they took stupid Darko” is wrong. Yes, Prince played well for Rick Carlisle in the postseason, watching as his minutes jumped up from 10 to 25 per game, but Dumars was taking Darko anyway.
Have fun delving into the past this weekend.
Larry Lage of the Associated Press gets confirmation on what has long been rumored:
Detroit Pistons president of basketball operations Joe Dumars says the team expects to sign Kyle Singler on July 11.
As I said, no real surprise. This was expected. The not so easy part? Figuring out what to do with an abundance of potential small forwards who will be under contract for next season.
The 5-10 undrafted PG out of Long Beach State, Casper Ware, will play for the Detroit Pistons Summer League team. He worked out 4 #Blazers.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) June 29, 2012
A lot of Pistons fans were hoping for Scott Machado once he went undrafted, but it sounds like there is heavy competition for his services. Ware is a 5-foot-10 senior point guard from Long Beach State. He averaged 17.4 points and 3.4 assists per game as a senior while shooting 36 percent from three. Here’s Chad Ford’s scouting report on Ware:
Ware and Missouri Tigers guard Marcus Denmon matched up against each other in 3-on-3 play at the Santa Barbara workout. Ware is quicker and more aggressive as a defender. He’s totally unafraid to get up in your grill and disrupted Denmon on a number of players.
Hey, that sounds OK. After all, the Pistons need a tough, pass-first pure point gua … what? What’s that, Chad?
More of a combo guard than a point guard
So he could be a younger Will Bynum, I guess? Joe D loves him some hybrid guards. At any rate, I love watching Mid-Major guys earn their way into the NBA (personally, I’m pulling for my fellow Oakland alum Reggie Hamilton to fight his way onto a roster this summer). The Pistons need guard help, but not a scoring guard. So if Ware is going to win a spot this summer, hopefully he wows the Pistons with his passing ability.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo!’s Ball Don’t Lie handed out his draft grades today. Like someone else I know, he’s at the same time excited about Andre Drummond’s potential and apprehensive about whether or not he can fulfill it:
Interesting, potential-filled draft for Detroit. English can play. He can shoot, and in the NBA if you can shoot, you can play. Simple as that. Middleton’s frame and game remind of a guy who is going to be in the NBA for a few years, and with a second-round selection that’s hard to beat, and not slim praise. On top of that, Middleton has yet to turn 21.
Drummond is the biggest coin flip in the draft. He’s the biggest anything in the draft, mixing that massive 7-6 wingspan and dominant potential with a history that suggests he might fritter it all away. That he’ll lure fans in and put together that week or even month of double-double play and engaged defense (because that goes beyond shot-blocking; and the Pistons badly need someone paying attention on the inside with Greg Monroe around) before falling backward. As fans of sound center play, we’re dying for Drummond to work out. We’re hoping he falls closer to Bob Lanier than Reggie Harding. We hope Ben Wallace sticks around for another year to show him how it’s done, before and after practice.
We’ve seen this buildup before, though. Please let the payoff be different this time, Andre Drummond.
(Pistons had to take him, though. Had to.)
Andre Drummond has flaws, some of them highlighted on Detroit Bad Boys last night, I think even the most euphoric among Pistons fans realize this. So while most have praised the Pistons for having the good fortune to land someone once considered a top four talent in this draft with the ninth pick, there are also more pessimistic takes out there. Matt Moore of CBS Sports:
He’s so talented, so physically gifted, but Joe Dumars needed more of a sure thing. Drummond is a nice kid — too nice. He doesn’t play with much intensity, hasn’t developed any low-post moves and has a mediocre basketball IQ. I hate to kill this pick because, again, Drummond is a high-character kid. But this was a major risk, even at number nine.
Moore is also one of very few people praising Detroit’s first second round pick, Khris Middleton. He also liked the English pick:
Khris Middleton (39): Solid pick for Dumars; Middleton is a skilled wing who can shoot it from the perimeter.
Kim English (44): Has size and can shoot the ball from the perimeter. Quality selection in the middle of the second round.
I’ve obviously expressed my belief that Drummond was the pick the Pistons had to make, and I say that knowing very well what the risks are. It has similarities to the Brandon Knight pick last year. In back-to-back years, the Pistons have taken players who are incredibly physically gifted, but their actual skill level/basketball IQ has to catch up to where they’re at physically. If Knight’s work ethic and rub off on Drummond, I think he’ll be fine.
Dumars on Ben Wallace-"We talk every other day." When asked when he will know his decision–"Training camp starts October 1st."?
Chad Ford has posted his reaction to every pick in the draft. Here are his takes on each player the Pistons picked. Ford on Drummond:
I think this is where the reward starts to outweigh the risk for the Pistons in terms of taking Drummond. And he winds up in a perfect situation in Detroit. The Pistons need a shot-blocker and rebounder in the paint to pair with Greg Monroe. Drummond is a project, but he has as much upside as anyone else in the draft other than Anthony Davis. The question, and it’s a real one, is whether he’ll reach it.
Ford on Middleton:
I really like Middleton. He’s a smooth scorer with a great midrange game. He was projected as a first-round pick last year but injuries hurt his stock. A nice pick for Detroit here.
Ford on English:
The Pistons traded away Ben Gordon and felt they needed scoring. English shot the lights out from 3 as a senior and was incredibly efficient for Missouri. He really started coming on in workouts. He’s skinny, but English will fill a big need for the Pistons.
Honestly, I was a little surprised that Ford seemed so high on the Middleton pick, considering he had Middleton ranked 48th among his top 100 prospects. As I said last night, my issue with Middleton is not so much that I don’t think he’ll be good. It’s just that the Pistons have about 37 small forwards on their roster right now.
Andre Drummond will wear No. 1, per the news conference on Pistons.com. Khris Middleton will wear No. 32, and Kim English has No. 24.
NEWARK, N.J. – Andre Drummond is a great draft pick. He’s not a great player – or even necessarily a good player – and he might never become one.
Welcome to the NBA, where a team in a market like Detroit has few opportunities acquire elite talent outside the draft. Drummond is an elite talent, and in a six-player draft,* the Pistons got a premier prospect at No. 9.
*Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bradley Beal, Thomas Robinson, Harrison Barnes and Drummond
Of course, that comes with no guarantees – and if forced to make a binary success-or-failure call to day, I’d bet on Drummond busting. But nobody is forcing me, or anyone, to determine Drummond’s fate right now. I have no idea how this will play out. How could I?
Drummond, stylistically, fits the exact profile of an ideal Greg Monroe complement. Drummond has the size and athleticism to protect the rim, defend post-ups and sky for dunks in ways that Monroe simply can’t.
The potential of that pairing made Drummond a no-brainer pick once he fell to No. 9, much the same way Monroe was a steal at No. 7 two years ago and the Pistons thought Brandon Knight was a steal at No. 8 last year. Greg Monroe is off to a great start, and the Pistons think Knight is too.
So, there was no way – as they told Drummond after his workout with the team earlier in the week – that the Pistons were going to stop their annual tradition of taking the player who slips from the high end of mock drafts to the middle of the lottery.*
*That the Pistons coveted Drummond was an open secret. “They had established that if Drummond dropped, they were going to pick him,” John Henson said. “If not, they were going to pick me. So, I knew it was coming up.”
Drummond, sitting at his green-room table, tucked his head toward his lap as David Stern began to announce the Raptors’ pick at No. 8. Once Stern declared Toronto had take Terrence Ross, Drummond lifted his head, leaned back and grinned. And then he started crying.
“My mom was holding my hand throughout the whole draft,” Drummond said. “’She was like, ‘We’re here, so just be patient. Your name is going to be called soon.’”
Once it was, Drummond mixed tears and that silly smile as he took the stage and shook David Stern’s hand. It was a genuine moment of joy from someone who has probably faced more questions than anyone in this draft.
From there, Drummond did everything possible to impress.
After drafted players leave the stage, they go through a tedious circuit of interviews. First ESPN, then radio, on-site reporters, Craig Sager, more radio, a conference call with hometown beat writers and more television. Plus, for someone like Drummond who played at nearby UConn, questions as he walked from station to station.
NBA workers escort each player throughout the process, at times handing off the player to another worker who handles the next step. To many players, the workers are anonymous signs to silently follow. Not Drummond. He exchanged introductions and handshakes with each one.
One woman introduced herself to Drummond and said that she’d be his bodyguard. As they waited together for yet another radio interview, she told him she could remove any pesky media (me) who was bothering him with questions between official stations. For his part, Drummond never took up the offer, and after completing the radio interview, he stood up.
“Where we off to, bodyguard?” Drummond asked.
It’s a question Drummond could ask the Pistons – though, not only are the Pistons charged with protecting him, they must challenge him. Drummond, at least based on what he said last night, is game.
“All the talk about my motor and not being able to play hard,” Drummond said, “will be put to rest immediately. I know that I’ll have my teammates – or my brothers now – to push me.”
Are you listening, Pistons? Detroit failed to properly develop players like Arron Afflalo, Amir Johnson and Carlos Delfino while they were here – and those are just the players I can safely list, because they thrived elsewhere. It’s impossible to tell whether players like Darko Milicic and Rodney White would have gone onto different career tracks if drafted elsewhere.
As, I spoke with Drummond, he gave polished answer after polished answer. He wasn’t angered or seeking revenge on the teams that passed on him. I asked Drummond whether it told him him anything that he went at the bottom of his draft range.
“Not at all,” Drummond said. “All I know is that I’m a hard worker. Like I said before, wherever I go, I’m going to work hard. So, it doesn’t matter – two, four, five – it doesn’t matter where I’m going to go. I’m just going to work my hardest.
“I’m trying to win games. It don’t matter what number you go. That’s all it is.”
As Drummond spoke calmly and clearly, proving himself a more mature orator than many professional athletes, it was easy to forget that Drummond is just 18 – except when sounded like a kid while chatting with Sager before their interview. Sager, in a pink jacket that only he could or would wear, said his shoes were made of ostrich.
“Ostrich?” Drummond gasped, in total awe of Sager’s worldly style.
A minute later, Drummond was back to sounding like he had everything together while Sager interviewed him.
At one point, flabbergasted by how different the Drummond I was seeing was from the Drummond I had heard about, I asked where all the questions about him came from.
“I don’t know,” Drummond said. “If I knew, I’d tell you.”
Then a thought occurred to me. Is Drummond a draft-night specialist in the way someone interviews well for jobs but doesn’t necessarily do jobs well? Had he been preparing for this night or preparing for an NBA career?
Drummond lost a lot of weight leading up to the draft, which he said improved his game. But if winning were as important to him as he said, why not put in the work to lose that weight while at UConn?
I’m not complaining. After all, I wrote too many posts explaining how the slightest rumblings in the top eight picks would affect Drummond’s availability at No. 9 to turn back now. I fully support this pick. It’s just a concern.
Shortly before leaving the Prudential Center, Drummond and his family and friends gathered behind the draft stage, an area where many drafted players were celebrating with their loved ones. As Drummond and his mom made arrangement for their group’s bus – perhaps, the bandwagon is already full – Drummond put on a pair of sunglasses.
For the record, I have zero issue with Drummond’s choice in eyewear. It’s silly to suggest that a humble and hard-working person wouldn’t wear sunglasses inside at night, and I’m not doing that. Drummond is entitled to dress how he wants in his own time. I’m just saying that image of Drummond wearing those sunglasses in the backstage area doesn’t mesh with the professional image he gave off earlier in the night. Maybe the Pistons’ future with him is a little dimmer than it appeared for most of the evening.
Or maybe the future is just too darn bright.