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Archive → June, 2012

PistonPowered Growing Pains

If you spent much time on the site in the past couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that we’ve been experiencing a few technical issues here. Thanks to an abundance of loyal readers (that’s you), we’d completely outgrown our old hosting package, causing poor performance and the occasional site outage.

And we can’t thank you enough.

Over the last several hours, we’ve moved our site to a faster server that should allow us to handle higher traffic volumes with fewer difficulties. This process required that we transfer all of our content to a new machine and inform "the internet" of our move so that www.pistonpowered.com takes all of you to Dan and Patrick’s witty and insightful (and sometimes snarky) basketball analysis that you’ve grown to love. Unfortunately, since the World Wide Web is really exactly what it sounds like, it takes time for that information to be updated everywhere. If you saw any strange error messages on our site sometime since Wednesday evening, it was because your corner of the internet wasn’t yet notified of our move. (I’d encourage you to read up on DNS and the internet here for a more technical explanation, if you’re into that sort of thing.)

This upgrade should keep us running smoothly for a while, but if you’re able to view this post and you see anything else on the site that seems out of the ordinary, drop us a line so we can investigate.

We’re committed to providing you with the best news and analysis around on the Detroit Pistons, and we feel that this is yet another step in that direction. Hopefully you can overlook some of our recent issues and stick around for all our coverage of the 2012 NBA Draft and beyond. I mean, come on; we just spent money on you guys! The least you could do is hang out for a while longer, right? Is that so much to ask? So pull up a chair and prepare your best arguments for Dan and Patrick in the comments section, because we’re not going anywhere. And bring some friends, too. We’re looking forward to having this problem again sometime very soon.

Jason Maxiell not opting out

Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News:

#Pistons forward Jason Maxiell will not opt-out the final year of his contract, will stay in Detroit for $5 million next season

This isn’t surprising and probably a good move by Maxiell. He definitely wasn’t going to make $5 million next season on the open market, and more likely than not, he can still get a get contract in 2013 that’s similar to the multi-year deal he likely would receive as a free agent this offseason.

It’s a credit to Maxiell, who got into better shape last year, that opting out was even a consideration.

3-on-3: With the 44th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select …

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. In the days leading up to the draft, we’re going to discuss what the Pistons could/should/might/should not do with each of their three picks.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today as we discuss the 9th pick, that’s J.M. Poulard, who writes for Warriors World, Forum Blue and Gold and various other TrueHoop Network sites. Follow him on Twitter.

Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Which player do you think the Pistons are most likely to select at pick 44?

Dan Feldman: Kevin Murphy. The Pistons probably want to upgrade their outside shooting, and as predicted by Chad Ford, the Tennessee Tech sharp-shooter might be a nice fit. I could also see Detroit opting for a European player who won’t come to the NBA immediately. Joe Dumars has previously stated a desire not to overrun his team with rookies.

Patrick Hayes: Tornike Shengalia. It’s not that I know all that much about him, but he’s young, possibly could be a player the Pistons stash overseas for a year or so and let develop and with two second round picks and a full roster, it does make some sense for the Pistons to take a project player who they don’t have to worry about using a roster spot on for another season or two.

J.M. Poulard: Hollis Thompson out of Georgetown seems like a good bet to be selected by the Pistons given his ability to stretch the court with his 3-point shooting. Also, is size will make it easy for him to look over defenders running at him to contest his shots. Given that the Pistons averaged only 13.9 attempts from downtown last season, getting someone to camp out there, makes shots and force opponents to defend the 3-point line is a must.

2. Which realistic target at pick 44 would make the best pick?

Dan Feldman: William Buford. I would love for the Pistons to get three big men in this draft. Detroit’s lack of promise up front – beyond Greg Monroe, a third of Jonas Jerebko (who’s two-thirds small forward) and the blind hope that Vernon Macklin’s small sample size is sustainable – is that influential. Quality bigs are difficult to acquire outside the draft, but other teams know this, and that’s why so many teams risk picks on bigs who have any potential at all. So, I think there’s a decent chance no quality big-man prospects will remain on the board at this point.

In that event, Buford would represent great value. At Ohio State, he looked like a late first-round pick. He has ideal size, shoots well from outside and possesses defensive smarts. He might not have the athleticism to get to the rim or be a defensive terror. But he knows how to play, and that’s important. I can’t figure out why he’s fallen so far, other than that he played four years for the Buckeyes and gave scouts too long to dissect his flaws – and that’s not a good reason to drop.

Patrick Hayes: Darius Johnson-Odom. I know, I know … I already begged for a Marquette player at pick 39 yesterday. But with Ben Gordon traded, the Pistons suddenly need guard depth and DJO is arguably the most athletic guard in this draft, he’s tough, he has a great work ethic, he’s fun to watch and he made 39 percent of his threes last season.

J.M. Poulard: Alabama’s JaMychal Green might actually be the best bet for the Detroit Pistons at this spot. The power forward is somewhat undersized, but nonetheless comes with athleticism as well as the ability to finish around the rim. Considering that the Pistons had some issues converting shots in the lane against opposing defenses, getting a back up big man capable of capitalizing on opportunities around the rim certainly seems like a necessity given the Pistons scoring woes last season.

3. Which realistic target at 44 nine would make the worst pick?

Dan Feldman: Selling the pick. I’m fine with trading for a future pick if the Pistons don’t like anyone when their turn comes up, but in that event, just selling the pick outright would be a tremendous disappointment. A bigger possible disappointment: the Pistons liking a player when their turn comes up but sell the pick either because they need the money or are afraid to add too many rookies at once. Another, albeit smaller downer: reaching for a player because he agreed to spend a year or two overseas (and off Detroit’s payroll).

Patrick Hayes: Henry Sims. Nothing against Sims, he just seems too much like last year’s second rounder, Vernon Macklin. Sims isn’t as old and probably has a bit more upside, but he is a limited big man and as we saw last year with Macklin, limited big men, even ones who were fairly productive in the spot minutes they were given, probably have a hard time cracking Lawrence Frank‘s rotation.

J.M. Poulard: William Buford out of Ohio State might be the worst selection Detroit could potentially make with the 44th pick. It’s not so much that he is a bad player, but more so that he is a bad fit. He’s a subpar finisher in traffic and will probably stay camped out on the perimeter for midrange jumpers. Once again, not necessarily a bad skill, but on a team possessing many players who already fit that mold, he would be awfully redundant and quite frankly useless.

Andre Drummond will apparently clear Trail Blazers, just two hurdles remain for Pistons-Drummond pairing

Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com:

Two separate sources have confirmed that point guard Damian Lillard won the hearts of Trail Blazer officials with a solo workout for the team earlier this month that was sensational.

Lillard was said to be near flawless in the session, during which he was put through shooting drills and drills that tested his skills as a pick-and-roll point guard.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express uses that same information to predict the Pistons will draft Andre Drummond:

In a strange twist of fate, the Pistons see arguably the second most talented player in the draft, at their biggest position of need, fall right into their laps. Drummond brings the size, length, frame, athleticism and defensive prowess they lack next to the more offensively minded Greg Monroe, making this as easy a pick to call as we’ve seen since Anthony Davis went off the board.

But there’s still a strong chance the Warriors (No. 7) or Raptors (No. 8) will draft Drummond. There’s also a chance they’ll trade their pick to a team wanting Drummond. More concerning is not only could Drummond go seventh or eighth, but John Henson, apparently the apple of Detroit’s eye, might too. Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal-Times:

The Milwaukee Bucks are trying to move up in the NBA draft.

And what would the Bucks do if they possessed the seventh pick? Some NBA officials contend the Bucks, in desperate need a center and legit power forward, especially if Ersan Ilyasova bolts in free agency, would likely look at two players: Connecticut center Andre Drummond and North Carolina power forward John Henson.

Which player belongs No. 12 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

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Miles Plumlee

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-10, 245 pounds, senior F/C from Duke
  • Key Stats: 6.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.9 blocks per game, 61 percent shooting
  • Projected: Second round

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

* Note: This will be the last profile in this year’s Draft Dreams series — 51 prospects in all, a new record in the three years I’ve been doing this. Look for my mock draft tomorrow.

Plumlee was a role player at Duke, playing just 20 minutes per game as a senior. But he’s had a great summer in pre-draft workouts. From Fox Sports North:

After the Minnesota workouts, Plumlee’s stock began to rise. He played well then, and he’s been exceeding expectations since, pushing his name as far up the draft ladder as late in the first round. At the combine, he measured 6-foot-11-3/4 with shoes, and his 7-foot-3/4 wingspan was better than Tyler Zeller’s. He’s been silencing critics who say he was inconsistent in college, not athletic enough, not NBA caliber.

Pros for the Pistons

Plumlee is one of several second round bigs the Pistons would probably consider. He’s an OK shot-blocker on a per-minute basis, though not an elite one, he runs the floor well and he’s much more athletic than he’s given credit for. He should at the very least be an effective rebounder and fundamentally sound backup big man in the NBA, and the Pistons could definitely use that.

Cons for the Pistons

Yesterday’s trade might change what we’ve assumed all along the Pistons are looking for in the draft. Yes, they still have frontcourt needs, but all of a sudden, they have little depth in the backcourt and no 3-point shooters to stretch the floor for their guards who love to drive and their big man who is great at finding shooters spotting up. There are certainly big men available in the second round that might help down the road, but there are also elite shooters like Doron Lamb or Darius Johnson-Odom who might fill more pressing needs now that Ben Gordon is gone.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Plumlee’s stock has also risen dramatically over the course of the last month. Despite his pedestrian numbers at Duke, teams are intrigued with his elite athletic abilities and rebounding. Could be the next Jeff Foster.

DraftExpress:

Outside of his offensive rebounding prowess, the another interesting wrinkle to Plumlee’s game are the brief flashes (just six attempts all season) that he has shown as a spot-up shooter from mid-range, particularly given his comfort operating out of the pick-and-roll. He already sets very good screens and rolls hard to the basket, which is an asset given the predominance of pick-and-roll sets in NBA playbooks. His shooting mechanics need significant work, as his shooting touch isn’t great and he spots a slow release with a bit of a hitch, but if he is able to develop in this area, he would have a much better chance of carving out a role in an NBA rotation.

Previously

Dysfunctional Pistons lose Ben Gordon trade

The Pistons are dysfunctional.

Their trade of Ben Gordon and first-round pick (lottery-protected next year, top-8 protected in 2014, top-1 protected in 2015 and unprotected in 2016) to the Bobcats for Corey Maggette practically proves that. The trade might have been necessary, but a functional franchise never would have had to make such a deal.

Joe Dumars, Tom Gores and many others might deserve blame for this trade, but it isn’t about the trade itself. And it’s certainly not about Gordon and Maggette, both of whom are practically irrelevant as basketball players when it comes to the reason this deal was made.

It’s about a culture of dysfunction.

Something is going wrong at 6 Championship Drive, and I’m not sure whether this trade will help or hurt – or even have an effect at all. The trade is a symptom, not the cause.

If you’re going to read this post it’s important you read this paragraph. There might not be a specific person to blame or a person whose firing would solve the problem (though, there might be). The Pistons operate in a complex environment, not in a vacuum where they hold complete control of their destiny. Sometimes, bad things happen for reasons outside anyone’s control. We can assess those situations without necessarily blaming a specific person for them.

I can’t, from my outsider’s perspective, pinpoint exactly where the Pistons’ dysfunction manifests itself. But I’d bet you can find at least shreds of it in these several areas:

Dysfunctional revenue streams

The Pistons ranked 28th in attendance and 30th in percentage of capacity filled last season. As terrible as those numbers are – even when you consider the periphery loss in parking, concession and other game-day revenue – the figures probably still undersell the problem.

The Palace might eliminate luxury suites, which I figured to be big revenue generators if they can be sold. But they probably can’t be sold. The Pistons are a bad and boring team playing in a state with a crumbling economy, and who would want to pay  to watch that?

Further, the Pistons’ team salary ranked in the top half of the NBA. That’s not a profitable combination.

The Pistons are selling this trade as a way to clear cap room – and it will, to the tune of $13.2 million next summer. But if cap room was the real goal, the obvious step would have been amnestying Gordon. That would clear him from the salary cap and not cost a future first-round pick.

I don’t think the Pistons could have afforded that, though.

The issue isn’t paying Gordon. That’s a sunk cost. The problem is paying his replacement. The larger the amnestied contract for a team under the luxury tax, the more that team – at least if its trying to win – will spend on a replacement. Basically, a team pays around double in real dollars for the roster slot of an amnestied player.

In short, because the Pistons can’t afford to pay an amnestied Gordon and his replacement the real dollars they’d be owed, Detroit had to offer a first-round pick to another team to pay Gordon instead.

Dysfunctional organizational structure

If the Pistons continue to miss the playoffs and ultimately send the Bobcats a high draft pick, this trade will be a colossal failure. As it stands now, I think it’s a bad deal with potential to turn out fine.

But imagine, in two or three years a Pistons team that has continued to lose and then doesn’t even get its high draft pick. That team would be in major trouble, and its general manager would be in an incredibly unenviable position.

It also might not be Joe Dumars’ problem.

Can you imagine him keeping his job if the Pistons don’t make the playoffs sooner than later? That’s why a trade like this, which clears cap room to get a proven player next summer, happens. General managers without job security, even when the best plan is patience and keeping an eye to the future, build for the present to impress their bosses and keep their jobs.

Did that happen here? I don’t know.

But if Gores pressured Dumars into a win-now or win-soon move when the apt strategy is to win later, that’s a costly threat. After all, even if Dumars isn’t around to suffer the consequences, Gores will be.

Dysfunctional players

Ben Gordon has been lousy in Detroit, and he’s not the team’s only disappointment. This is an area that might be fixed, or at least improving, but the Pistons have brought in far too many players who either aren’t good or aren’t good enough to justify their contracts.

Gordon had negative trade value, because Dumars overpaid him three years ago, and it cost Detroit a first-round pick.

The root of this issue might be complex, but the solution is not. Acquire better players on cheaper contracts, and the Pistons won’t have to make a trade like this again.

Dysfunctional locker room

Why make this trade now?

The salary relief this season is minor ($1,337,931), though perhaps Detroit’s revenue issues are so extreme that it was imperative to save that money, or perhaps they have a plan to use it this summer. If not, I see a possible reason: fear of another player rebellion.

The Pistons could have probably waited and traded Gordon and a less-enticing draft-pick sweetener at the trade deadline or next summer to a team with room to absorb his contract (likely including the Bobcats).

But Detroit clearly wants to give bigger roles to Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey next season. Would Gordon take that OK? By all reports, he’s not a troublemaker, but at one point, I never would have thought Richard Hamilton would lead the revolt he did.

The Pistons’ locker-room dynamics appeared to be improved last season, but perhaps the situation was more fragile than I realized. How would Gordon have reacted if he wasn’t receiving consistent playing time? Maybe the Pistons didn’t want to find out after getting stung by Hamilton when presenting him with a reduced role.

Dysfunctional sense of self-worth

The Pistons must believe they’ll make the playoffs next season to make this trade, and they should think they have a good chance of winning a round if they were willing to draw the protection line at 14.

I just don’t see it.

The Pistons certainly have a realistic shot at the postseason, with Greg Monroe and Knight improving. But they’re still relying on young players who haven’t proven they can be steady two-way contributors.

Detroit made the same mistake of overvaluing its roster last offseason, when it quickly re-signed Tayshaun Prince and Jonas Jerebko just so they could practice more with Lawrence Frank. The Pistons were more than a few practices from the playoffs last year, and though they might be closer next year, I’d call the odds of them making the post-season 50-50 at best.

Dysfunctional understanding of NBA economics

The two best contracts in the NBA are rookie-scale contracts and max contracts. That’s because those are the types of deals that the the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement artificially depresses by rule. On an open market, first-round picks and elite players would command much more money than they’re making now.

The Pistons just dumped a future rookie-scale contract for cap room to pursue players in free agency, the mode of player acquisition where teams overspend with the money they save on rookie and max contracts. The last time the Pistons took this path ended with Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

The next go-around in free agency won’t necessarily go as poorly as 2009, but the system is set up for teams to overpay. It doesn’t appear Dumars – who bucked the odds by signing Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups to contracts that paid far less than their value – understands this.

For a long time, I planned to write a post about the end of the Gordon/Villanueva era – and fantasized about writing it sooner than later. As sad as it sounds, the $95 million men define this period of Pistons basketball. Now, even if the Pistons amnesty Villanueva tomorrow, that post can’t yet come.

As that first-round picks hangs in limbo between Detroit and Charlotte – maybe even longer if the eventually drafted player does well for Bobcats– the Pistons are still operating in the shadow of July 1, 2009. That day wasn’t the start of the Pistons’ dysfunction, but it might be the catalyst that got us here.

At this point, I don’t know who or what is steering the ship or whether the current regime is just along for the ride until past mistakes clear themselves up. But for the time being, the dysfunction still reigns.

Trade reactions: Pistons fans excited a trade happened, mixed on what they actually gave up and get back

I love when a trade goes down these days … it makes Twitter much more fun. Anyway, as we mentioned earlier, the Pistons traded Ben Gordon and a future first round pick to Charlotte for what’s left of Corey Maggette tonight. But what’s next? Which small forward, Maggette or Tayshaun Prince, will out-iso the other? Will the Pistons sign Chris Kaman and work on their reunion of the 2005 L.A. Clippers? What’s Sam Cassell up to these days?

Anyway, as I always do, I scanned Twitter for some quick feedback on this news and compiled some below. Feel free to continue adding your own takes and comments below.


The drought is over: Pistons trade Ben Gordon and a protected first round pick to Charlotte for Corey Maggette’s expiring contract

First thing’s first — the details. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!:

Detroit has traded Ben Gordon and a protected future first-round pick to Charlotte for Corey Maggette, league sources tell Y! Sports.

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News adds that the pick is lottery protected in 2013, top eight protected in 2014 and top one protected in 2015. It becomes unprotected in 2016.

Secondly, WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

Not that I have anything against Ben Gordon, necessarily. He got paid handsomely in Detroit, that’s not his fault. He underperformed in Detroit, that is his fault, though I will say that he played through a variety of injuries and for a coaching staff his first two years that had no idea what to do with the team’s 19 shooting guards. But Gordon was largely a gentleman in Detroit, didn’t resort to the public complaining that a few other veterans partook in and hopefully he’s able to resurrect his career a bit in Charlotte or wherever he ends up if the Bobcats don’t decide to keep the world’s smallest backcourt.

For the Pistons, I don’t particularly like the thought of dumping a future first round pick just to shed salary (and don’t worry, I’m pretty sure Dan Feldman hates doing that and will be around later to offer his take), but getting Maggette’s expiring deal certainly does offer some potential short term salary relief. This isn’t a particularly good trade for Detroit, but it’s not the worst they’ve done either. I’m just glad that Dumars’ Cal Ripken-esque streak — since July 13, 2009, to be exact — of non-trading is over.

3-on-3: With the 39th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select …

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. In the days leading up to the draft, we’re going to discuss what the Pistons could/should/might/should not do with each of their three picks.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today as we discuss the 39th pick, that’s Thom (not Tom) Powell. Thom is a Pistons fan who writes for DigitalRefrain.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Which player do you think the Pistons are most likely to select at pick 39?

Dan FeldmanDrew Gordon. Joe Dumars has taken plenty of calculated risks in the second round. Some of turned out well (Amir Johnson), and others have not (Walter Sharpe). Needing more interior players, the Pistons could take a swing at Gordon — as long as Dumars believes Gordon’s troubles at UCLA were either overblown or behind him.

Patrick Hayes: I would guess they will look hard at taking one of three big men — Kyle O’Quinn, Miles Plumlee or Drew Gordon. If all three are on the board, that’s the order I’d rank them. Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank have both alluded to a need to get not only better defensively up front, but also tougher. O’Quinn and his many scowls meet that need and would be a welcome addition to a team that currently has too many guys who seem nice and easy-going.

Thom Powell: It’s tough to say, just because it will be contingent on a number of other factors — who the Pistons take at nine, whether a first round prospect falls, etc. — and because the 2nd round is generally more unpredictable than the first. Draft Express has the Pistons taking Jared Cunningham (SG, Oregon St.) and I do think that’s a genuine possibility. If the Pistons take a big like John Henson or Meyers Leonard at nine, I could see them taking a two guard to groom for Ben Gordon‘s inevitable departure. Cunningham’s major strength (getting to the free throw line) is very similar to Rodney Stuckey‘s and while he played in a pretty weak Pac-12, it was still a major conference with steeper competition than most mid-major prospects faced. Cunningham is just one possibility at guard, though. Guys like Tony Wroten (if he falls), Scott Machado and Doron Lamb are all potential options. I could also see the Pistons adding another big for depth purposes, too. If Detroit takes Henson, they could also add someone like Miles Plumlee to add a bit more size and strength to the front court, given Henson’s slender frame.

2. Which realistic target at pick 39 would make the best pick?

Dan Feldman: Jared Sullinger. Maybe I’m dreaming – and it would probably take a trade up to get him — but I’m still holding out hope that Sullinger falls this far. After seeing how general managers let DeJuan Blair fall three years ago, I can maybe convince myself to believe they’re that foolish. (Or wise, because, despite my wishes, they were right to let Wayne Simien fall in 2005 due to his injury issues. But let’s not talk about that. Blair 2.0!) As far as players more likely to be there, like everyone else, I like Scott Machado and Jae Crowder.

Patrick Hayes: Jae Crowder. Of course, this could change if the Pistons end up taking a perimeter player in the lottery. But assuming they don’t, Crowder fills a need for toughness and athleticism on the perimeter. He’s athletic, strong, plays extremely hard and it’s easy to see him playing productive minutes in relief of Tayshaun Prince immediately.

Thom Powell: I’ve been on the Kyle O’Quinn bandwagon since Norfolk State upset Missouri and I have no intention of getting off it anytime soon. He’s a tough, physical big, and an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker whose timing and seven-foot-five wingspan should translate well to the NBA game. His rebounding and shot-blocking alone should make him an upgrade over Jason Maxiell, but his offensive game is equally intriguing. O’Quinn was a very efficient scorer at Norfolk State, notching 16 points per game on only 10 shots a night, shooting 57 percent from the field, and averaging over six free throw attempts per contest. He averaged a paltry 18.8 percent from behind the three point line, but still has excellent range on his jumper and has the potential to expand his range even further with some work. I could see him being off the board before the 39th pick — most likely at the hands of a savvy franchise like San Antonio — but most mocks have O’Quinn being taken around or after where the Pistons draft.

3. Which realistic target at pick 39 would make the worst pick?

Dan Feldman: Hollis Thompson. He might look like an NBA player when you examine his size and fluidity, but he hasn’t consistently played with the intensity to prove he can compete. I’d let someone else chance that he develops it.

Patrick Hayes: Will Barton. It’s nothing against Barton — I think he has a chance to develop into a solid player somewhere. But he’s a young player who needs some refinement to his game, and as we saw last year, Lawrence Frank‘s security blanket, aka Prince, makes it easy for Frank to justify not playing mistake-prone young wings with upside. A more polished, experienced wing like Crowder, Doron Lamb or John Jenkins would stand a better chance at earning minutes right away than a raw player in need of development.

Thom Powell: Bernard James posted some intriguing numbers during his senior season at Florida State and his measurables are solid. The problem is that he’s already 27. That’s the same age, coincidentally, as a recent NBA champion who happens to share his last name. I liked what I saw from Vernon Macklin, another old rookie, last season, but James faces the same issue that frustrated me with Macklin: a lack of playing time. It doesn’t make sense to draft a guy in their mid to late twenties and sit them, mainly because they don’t have much upside at that point in their career. Either James contributes immediately or it’s a wasted pick. Is it worth taking a guy who’ll be 30 in three seasons if you’re not 100 percent sure he can contribute immediately? If the Pistons wouldn’t give Macklin any burn last year — despite solid production, albeit in limited minutes — I’d hate for them to make the same mistake with another second rounder who’s already a year older than him.