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Archive → June, 2012

Writing about the unpredictability of Joe Dumars for the Detroit Free Press

Alright, please allow me to be a newspaper geek for a second. Some of my first memories as a Pistons fan are reading Pistons stories and looking up stats in the newspaper with my dad. And not just any newspaper. It was always the Detroit Free Press. When it became clear at a pretty young age that I was not going to be the Pistons starting power forward some day, I took another path and tried something I was slightly better at, sports writing. It might sound nerdy, but ever since I’ve been writing as an adult, I’ve still always dreamed about seeing my byline in the Free Press.

Anyway, long story short, the Free Press has allowed Dan and I to write a weekly Pistons column for Freep.com. My first one is posted now. I wrote about Joe Dumars, namely how difficult it has become to figure out his end-game:

For the past two seasons, the organization has stressed the importance of patience with the young nucleus of Rodney Stuckey, Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Jonas Jerebko and now Andre Drummond, hoping that group can mature into the core players on a contending team.

That’s a striking difference to the Dumars of the past, who was aggressive on the trade market, who preferred established veterans to young players who needed time to reach their primes.

Whether you’re convinced of the organizational assessment that those players are destined to be a formidable playoff team soon or not, it’s at least easy to buy the logic behind it.

The Pistons needed to get younger, they have needed to take development of their young players more seriously so they quit watching productive players like Carlos Delfino, Arron Afflalo and Amir Johnson rot on their own bench only to be serviceable or better rotation players elsewhere. This new-found patience is a good thing. That is, if it is the actual strategy.

This week is the perfect example of the roller coaster that is Dumars — and, just to be clear, I don’t mean that as a derogatory description of him. He made his first trade in three years, giving up a first round draft pick to get out of the cumbersome Ben Gordon contract. Some people loved that move. Some people detested it. Then he drafted Andre Drummond with the ninth pick. Some people loved that move. Some people detested it. Then, with his first pick in the second round, people collectively scratched their heads a bit.

Dumars has a complex legacy as team president. His best moves make him look as brilliant as the league’s best GMs. His bad moves make him look among the league’s worst. There has never really been a middle ground with Dumars, and that has me both really excited about what he might do next and, to be honest, a little scared. You never know when his next great move is coming, but you also never know when he’s going to take a big gamble that doesn’t pay off. All just part of being a Pistons fan these days.

Vernon Macklin doesn’t receive qualifying offer from Pistons

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

No qualifying offer for PF Vernon Macklin, thus he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Still on #Pistons summer league team.

#Pistons are really high on Vernon, but it’s a numbers game with roster likely at 14 and team can still use MLE. Still can sign him, tho.

This is the right move.

If the Pistons had extended Macklin a qualifying offer – $962,195 – he would have been a restricted free agent, meaning the Pistons could match any offer he receives from another team. The downside is that Detroit would have been committed to giving Macklin that one-year, $962,195 contract if that’s what Macklin wanted.

I can’t imagine other teams hold interest in Macklin, so that right to match offers was probably worthless. I also think Macklin would have accepted the qualifying offer immediately.

Now, if the Pistons want to bring back Macklin, they can offer him just a minimum contract – $762,195. And if the Pistons decide Macklin is no longer worthy of a roster spot, they can let him walk without penalty.

Recapping the 2012 NBA Draft for the Detroit Pistons

First of all, I just want to thank everyone who stopped by and read and commented tonight. Great and entertaining discussion in the comments all night. Here are some links to what we’ve posted so far:

Here are a few links to some coverage elsewhere that’s already up:

Dan Feldman is at the draft in New York Newark tonight, probably annoying PR people by requesting interviews. Not sure exactly what he’s planning to write, but we’ll definitely have a lot more content over the next few days. Draft Night is my favorite NBA event of the year, thanks for making it a lot of fun with all of your participation.

Detroit Pistons select Kim English with 44th pick in 2012 NBA Draft

OK … as I said in my last post, I profiled 51 prospects in this year’s Draft Dreams series. I was sure, sure that whoever the Pistons take would be among that 51. Unfortunately, because I didn’t see the Ben Gordon trade coming, I didn’t look at many second round shooting guards, so I have no English profile. Damn you, Dumars, and your unpredictable ways. But make no mistake, Kim English will be a very good addition. Loved this quote on ESPN’s draft coverage from Fran Fraschilla:

“He slept in the locker room so he could get up as many shots as possible.”

English is a big guard, something the Pistons need. He also played power forward in Missouri’s wonky offense, so he’s used to battling bigger, stronger players. He’s a phenomenal shooter — 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from three. Chad Ford had him rated as the 38th best prospect, so the Pistons getting him at 44 slightly makes up for reaching for Khris Middleton at 39.

English averaged 14.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. As far as weaknesses, he doesn’t create for himself off the dribble well. So think of him as Gordon for like eight percent of the cost. He’ll be a floor-stretching spot-up shooter. And he’ll be the Pistons official poet laureate:

Detroit Pistons select Khris Middleton with 39th pick in 2012 NBA Draft

After things went remarkably well for the Pistons in round one, they seemed to be shaping up nicely before their second pick as well. Perry Jones III, Arnett Moultrie and Draymond Green were inexplicably falling, Jae Crowder was still around three picks into the second round. It looked like a first round talent might fall But then the Pistons couldn’t get quite as lucky. The Heat grabbed Moultrie (later trading him to Philadelphia) and Sam Presti quickly jumped on Jones III late in the first round, Cleveland (for Dallas because of a pending trade) grabbed Jae Crowder and the Warriors took Draymond Green. But instead of grabbing Kyle O’Quinn or Scott Machado or another favorite, the Pistons went with Khris Middleton.

Middleton, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound wing player, struggled with injuries as a junior after a strong sophomore year, but Chad Ford had him ranked as the 48th best prospect in this draft. But here’s what Ford said about him last year:

“A year ago, Middleton would’ve been a potential first-round prospect,” Ford said. “Injuries have set him back a bit, but he’s actually been working out well over the past month.”

I didn’t do a Draft Dreams on Middleton because, frankly, with him projected as a late second-to-undrafted wing, I didn’t think there was any chance the Pistons took him. But I’m not a draft expert for a reason, folks. Leave it to Joe Dumars to pick someone I haven’t profiled even when I wrote 51 profiles of draft prospects this spring/summer. Middleton isn’t a great perimeter shooter, but his strength is his mid-range game.

I don’t love this pick. Middleton is certainly a player who could be a sleeper. As I said, his sub-par season a year ago was largely due to injuries, plus a really unstable coaching and roster situation at Texas A&M. But the Pistons need depth in the backcourt and depth in the frontcourt, so I’m not sure how adding another wing to the mix with Tayshaun Prince, Corey Maggette, Austin Daye, Kyle Singler and Jonas Jerebko all capable of playing small forward minutes, but perhaps there is another move on the way? Like I said, I’m not a fan of this pick with Lamb and O’Quinn still on the board. Anyway, have at this one in the comments.

Video: Joe Dumars discusses the Darko mistake after making the Andre Drummond pick

Brendan Savage of MLive has the above video of Joe Dumars talking at the Palace tonight after the Pistons picked Andre Drummond ninth overall in the 2012 draft.

Natalie Sitto at Need4Sheed also has audio of Andre Drummond from a conference call.

Also, our friend Ben Gulker has a post over at Detroit Bad Boys looking at some of Drummond’s advanced stats. Hint: they’re not pretty. But I’m a big believer in being informed, so be happy about Drummond, but Ben’s take is also worth checking out.

Detroit Pistons select Andre Drummond with ninth pick in 2012 NBA Draft

Everything seemed to be falling into place for Detroit. Charlotte in a mild surprise took Michael Kidd-Gilchrist second overall. The in a huge surprise, Cleveland took Dion Waiters fourth overall, the Kings obviously jumped on the good fortune of getting Thomas Robinson at five and Portland took the guy they’ve long coveted in Damian Lillard.

It was all up to Golden State and Toronto. The Warriors took Harrison Barnes, not too surprising. The Raptors … well, they did a Raptors thing. They took Terrence Ross. Eighth overall. Detroit, once again, benefited from teams in front of them making unconscionably bad decisions and they come out of this draft with Andre Drummond. Drummond certainly needs time if he’s going to develop, but his physical tools are so, so intriguing that Detroit couldn’t possibly pass him up. Drummond is not a perfect player by any stretch, but at this point in the draft, in need of another impact player, Detroit had to roll the dice.

More on Drummond throughout the next couple days, obviously, but for now, here’s the Draft Dreams profile we ran on him. Feel free to celebrate in the comments or complain about how you’d rather have Tyler Zeller or make fun of Toronto (seriously … make fun of Toronto a lot).


  • Measurables: 6-foot-10, 270 pounds, freshman center from UConn
  • Key Stats: 10.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks per game, 54 percent shooting
  • Projected: Lottery
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I like this guy

Yeah, I know, Andre Drummond said earlier in the season that he was leaning towards staying at UConn another season. But Greg Monroe once said that he planned to stay at Georgetown rather than enter the NBA Draft, yet somehow, he ended up playing for the Pistons instead of playing his junior season in college, so maybe the Pistons will have a similar stroke of luck and add another Big East big man.

The merits of Drummond are obvious. He’s big, athletic and blocks shots — nearly three per game in about 28 minutes a night. The Pistons have a notable deficiency in guys who are big, athletic and block shots (you may have noticed). But with those skills, Drummond is also incredibly raw, which is why he’s listed anywhere from two to six in most mock drafts, including Chad Ford’s recent one that had the Pistons landing Drummond at the six spot. After getting perhaps the best player in the 2010 draft in Monroe in the second half of the lottery and landing Brandon Knight later in last year’s lottery than most predicted he’d go, picking up a prospect of Drummond’s caliber at No. 6 would be another steal for Joe Dumars.

Pros for the Pistons

I don’t agree with this line of thinking, but there is a segment among Pistons fans that firmly believes Monroe needs to play power forward while being paired with a big center. Personally, the Pistons just need to add talent to their frontcourt, regardless of whether that talent is technically a power forward or a center. Fortunately for fans clamoring for a center, though, Drummond happens to be huge AND also has the shot-blocking/above the rim capabilities that the Pistons need.

Drummond finishes well around the basket on offense, he’s a good offensive rebounder, he can move without the ball and, on defense, he swats a high percentage of shots. All of those are things on the checklist for what the Pistons would like to add next to Monroe. With Drummond, there’s also the added bonus of him already being a little bit bigger than Monroe. Potentially, if he gets stronger and improves defensively (he’s already pretty solid on D) to the point where he can handle guarding opposing teams’ best big man, Monroe’s defensive problems become less of an issue (although he certainly needs to keep working on improving at that end of the court).

The Pistons, like every team in the lottery, are dreaming of Anthony Davis. But short of getting Davis, Drummond would be a pretty nice consolation prize.

Cons for the Pistons

Drummond didn’t have the dominant season many predicted for him as a heralded prep prospect. He was inconsistent for a UConn team that fell below expectations. This quote by Drummond about Seton Hall center Herb Pope, himself a pretty good player, is funny but also might give an indication as to why Drummond and another elite freshman big man prospect, Anthony Davis, didn’t make close to the same impact on their respective programs this season:

Seton Hall senior Herb Pope averages 18.6 points and 10.9 rebounds, he has eight double-doubles and he is a leading candidate for first-team all-Big East.

All those accomplishments, however, apparently weren’t enough to make a future Big East opponent aware of him.

On the eve of Connecticut’s matchup with improving Seton Hall on Tuesday night, Huskies freshman center Andre Drummond admitted to local reporters he didn’t know much about Pope.

“I don’t even know who that is,” Drummond said. “I’m not trying to be disrespectful. They said the name to me in practice and I was like ‘Wait, who’s Herb Pope?’”

“I haven’t watched Seton Hall so I wouldn’t know who’s on their team or anything like that.”

Drummond is young and that comment is more humorous to me than anything, but any team that drafts him will have to most likely wait for him to mature a bit before he’s a reliable, consistent contributor. He also needs to improve his dreadful free throw shooting (29 percent this season) as NBA teams will definitely exploit that weakness and send him to the line if he doesn’t. Drummond is physically imposing and athletic enough to be a dominant rebounder. He also occasionally struggles if he holds the ball too long — his seven turnover game vs. Rutgers was a good example of that. Despite his imposing size, Drummond is also hesitant at times to mix it up and play physically. That would be an issue for the Pistons considering that same thing can be said about Monroe, particularly on defense. The Pistons have a glaring need for more toughness up front, and that’s something Drummond is still developing.

None of his weaknesses should prevent a team from betting on his upside, he just has some work to do if he’s going to be an immediate impact player as a pro.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

The Good: God gave Andre Drummond the body of an NBA big man. He’s big, quick off his feet and moves incredibly well for his size. When he wants to be, he can be a dominant player on both ends of the floor. He can be an awesome finisher around the basket. He can be a dominant shot-blocker and rebounder.

The Bad: Drummond doesn’t always act like he wants to be a dominant player on either end. He can disappear for long stretches. He can shy away from the rough-and-tumble physical play in the paint. In short, he’s maddeningly inconsistent.

The Upside: Drummond reminds me a lot of another potentially elite prospect, Derrick Favors. If he ever gets it together and shows a passion for the game, he could be the best player in the entire draft. But there are serious questions about whether he’ll ever get there. He could get an NBA GM fired, too.


Whoever drafts him would surely be well-served hiring an experienced big man coach who can work with him on a daily basis and help him learn how to play with more toughness, confidence and aggressiveness. Such attention should help him a great deal, as he clearly has far more potential as a back to the basket threat than he was able to show this season.


Man child. A physical specimen type of athlete with a huge wingspan, long legs and strength and agility at a young age … He’s already a beast inside the paint with his rebounding and shot blocking ability and shows the toughness and tenacity to be a dominant inside player … Shows a natural feel for the game with good timing on shot blocks and explosive leaping ability … Has a huge wingspan (7-feet-plus) … Born in August of 1993, and with size 18 shoes, Drummond could have another growth spurt in him and could end up well over 7-feet … Right hander who shows a solid form on his shot … Right now he scores a lot of points around the basket on ally oops and put backs. He’s also beginning to show some ability to create offense for himself and his post skills show a lot of potential.

Sheridan Hoops:

“He runs the floor as well as any 6-10 you’ll find on any level,” (New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski) said. “He has terrific athletic ability.”

The Republic:

The good: He has had nine double-doubles (10 or more points and rebounds in a game), which is more than any UConn freshman ever, including Emeka Okafor, who had seven. Drummond broke out in flashes, especially against Syracuse, the best team that UConn has played.

The not-so-good: Drummond, who averaged 10.2 points, has yet to develop the post moves that would make him a consistent scoring threat. The coaches are trying to teach him how to seal off his defender and move to the basket, for instance.

What is the best thing Andre Drummond does for his team?

Kevin Meacham (follow him on Twitter) writes for The UConn Blog, SB Nation’s UConn site:

The best thing Andre Drummond brings to any team right now is his freaky athleticism. He has a ways to go before he’s a well-rounded player, but right now Drummond will give you incredible quickness for a 7-footer and tremendous leaping ability; he also proved to be a very capable Jim Calhoun shot-blocker (that is, he’ll challenge anything near the rim while avoiding fouls and he’s quite good at weak-side help). All of that made Drummond an excellent college big-man defender. There were also times this year where Drummond would stride into a passing lane for a steal at the top of the key, leading to a fast-break dunk, and in those moments, Drummond looked like a seven-foot guard. He’s very much a “toolsy” (to borrow a baseball term) player right this second, but he had flashes that were absolutely breathtaking.

Our Pistons draft boards

PistonPowered Community

1. Anthony Davis

2. Thomas Robinson

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

4. Andre Drummond

5. Harrison Barnes

6. Bradley Beal

7. Meyers Leonard

8. John Henson

9. Perry Jones

10. Tyler Zeller

11. Arnett Moultrie

12. Terrence Jones

13. Jared Sullinger

14. Damian Lillard

15. Dion Waiters

Dan Feldman

1. Anthony Davis

2. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

3. Thomas Robinson

4. Andre Drummond

5. Harrison Barnes

6. Bradley Beal

7. John Henson

8. Meyers Leonard

9. Terrence Jones

10. Damian Lillard

11. Tyler Zeller

12. Jared Sullinger

13. Perry Jones

14. Royce White

15. Kendall Marshall

Patrick Hayes

1. Anthony Davis

2. Thomas Robinson

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

4. Brad Beal

5. Andre Drummond

6. Harrison Barnes

7. John Henson

8. Tyler Zeller

9. Meyers Leonard

10. Dion Waiters

11. Jared Sullinger

12. Perry Jones

13. Damian Lillard

14. Kendall Marshall

15. Jeremy Lamb

Leave your draft board for the Pistons in the comments.

Meyers Leonard to Pistons in Basketball Prospectus mock draft

I did a who-I’d-take mock draft for Basketball Prospectus:

9. Detroit Pistons: Meyers Leonard (tier 4)

Greg Monroe can play either center or power forward, giving the Pistons flexibility here. An athletic 7-foot with skill is too much too pass up here, other questions aside.

Poll: Which player belongs No. 15 on the Pistons’ draft board?

Read this before voting

1. Anthony Davis

2. Thomas Robinson

3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

4. Andre Drummond

5. Harrison Barnes

6. Bradley Beal

7. Meyers Leonard

8. John Henson

9. Perry Jones

10. Tyler Zeller

11. Arnett Moultrie

12. Terrence Jones

13. Jared Sullinger

14. Damian Lillard