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Slava Kravtsov shows Joe Dumars hasn’t forgotten how to mine an untapped market

Me at the Free Press:

Early in his tenure as Detroit Pistons general manager, Joe Dumars made what looked like one of his most inconsequential moves: trading two second-round draft picks for the rights to Zeljko Rebraca in 2001.

Rebraca had been drafted seven years earlier, by the Seattle SuperSonics, traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves and then to the Toronto Raptors. For those seven years, he resisted NBA offers and remained in his native Europe, where he was successful on the court and paid well.

But Dumars convinced Rebraca to sign with Detroit, making the Yugoslavian a 29-year-old NBA rookie. Rebraca became a reliable low-post threat off the bench as the Pistons won a playoff series for the first time in 11 years.

What made acquiring Rebraca so brilliant was how Dumars tapped into an underutilized market. Every year, plenty of teams need centers, but how many general managers did their due diligence on Rebraca in 2001? Dumars did, and he was rewarded.

Dumars has made another understated move this off-season that, hopefully, will pay similar dividends: signing Slava Kravtsov.


  • Sep 28, 20123:44 pm
    by danny


    Dude is a beast.  Big man that play big god i love them.

  • Sep 28, 20124:21 pm
    by labatts


    That’s a move I had forgotten about.  As much as I criticize Dumars, its good to hear about the good moves.  Yes, hopefully we have another goldmine.

  • Sep 28, 20124:54 pm
    by Max



    • Sep 28, 20125:18 pm
      by bvpiston


      Yeah, but he’ll need to make the roster during training camp, which in all likeliness he probably will. Good to see him back in the NBA.
      Back on topic: Man, I loved Zelly!

  • Sep 28, 20125:06 pm
    by Vic


    Size athleticism, blocks and dunks..,, yeah I love kravtsov. Could have the biggest impact on the Pistons gameplan this year. Great find

  • Sep 28, 20125:46 pm
    by MNM


    I’d like to actually see him play in the NBA first before I bother deeming him a “great find”, “understated move” or anything of that ilk or nature.

    • Sep 28, 20127:20 pm
      by labatts


      Boy, what a buzz kill.

      • Sep 29, 201210:09 am
        by MNM


        I prefer to call it “realistic”.

    • Sep 29, 20129:12 am
      by RyanK


      Right on the money.  None of us know anything about him.  How can we talk about him being the next Zelly when we don’t even know if he can play.  Zelly was a renown player in the Euro leagues before coming to the NBA.  This kid is younger and doesn’t have the same kind of track record.

  • Sep 28, 20127:31 pm
    by ryan


    Obviously we have to see how he does in the NBA but based on the information we have about him he seems a great find since fits our needs so exactly.

  • Sep 28, 20128:48 pm
    by bugsygod


    Exciting to have so many good young players to watch for.  Dont know who i want to see more.. drummond to see if he “gets it”, Singler to see if he has ability to be a starter and take princes spot, can Stuckey put it together for a full season and be in all star talk, knight to cut down the To’s and boost the assists, Monroe to see how Great can he be, just all star or mybe mvp talent? Slava to see if he can break a rim And guard the rim, can jerbko get any better maybe 6th man of the yr type? Hell im curious about Daye & CV, Anything there with either guy?  Deeettrrroiittt Bassskettballl

  • Sep 29, 20122:20 pm
    by Alan


    If nothing else, Slava serves as a good “sparring” partner in practice for Drummond. 

  • Sep 29, 20122:35 pm
    by Vic


    Yeah I think we are on our way to contention. GMonroe is already a top 10 PF, Stuckey if not injury can be a top 10 sg. If Drummond OR Knight pan out we have a Big 3 or big 3.5 (for both of them to reach top 10 at their position would be too good to be true. A big 3 or 4 and some solid backups is enough to contend. So for now it’s all on coaching decisions and the development of Dre and/or BK7.
    Keep in mind the caps pace we have too fill in with another top 10 player if  any of our potential stars don’t pan out…
    I think the Future is bright! 

    • Sep 30, 20128:37 pm
      by tarsier


      It’s not impossible, but it would be really tough for Knight to become a top 10 PG. There are just way too many great PGs. With Paul, Williams, Rose, Westbrook, Irving, Wall, and Curry all nearly locks to be on that list for years to come, there are only three spots left. Lowry, Jennings, Parker, Conley, Lillard, Teague, Holiday, Dragic, and Lin will probably give Knight some stiff competition for those openings. And that’s not counting anyone who might come out of nowhere and burst onto the scene int he next few years.

      • Oct 1, 201212:43 am
        by Jerrific


        So you’re ready to include Irving, Wall, and Curry in a list of great point guards above Tony Parker, a veteran who has won multiple championships and is currently the best player on his (very good) team? Not saying those aren’t talented kids, but man you have some nice perspective. How are any of those players you listed with Parker even in the same discussion with him?

        • Oct 1, 20128:23 am
          by tarsier


          Because I am talking about the time frame in which Knight could be a top ten PG–which is a few years down the road. By that point, it’s anyone’s guess if Parker will still be a phenomenal player. There’s a chance, so he’s in the second group. If I was talking about right now, Nash would have been in the first group too.

        • Oct 1, 20128:24 am
          by tarsier


          Parker wasn’t my egregious error. That was completely forgetting about Rondo.

          • Oct 1, 20124:03 pm
            by jerrific

            ah i see, my apologies

  • Sep 29, 20122:44 pm
    by Vic


    Yeah I think we are on our way to contention. GMonroe is already a top 10 PF, Stuckey if no injury can be a top 10 sg. If Drummond OR Knight pan out we have a Big 3 or big 3.5 (for both of them to reach top 10 at their position would be too good to be true. ) A big 3 or 4 and some solid backups is enough to contend. So for now it’s all on coaching decisions and the development of Dre and/or BK7.
    Keep in mind the capspace we have too fill in with another top 10 player if  any of our potential stars don’t pan out…
    I think the Future is bright! 

  • Sep 29, 20124:58 pm
    by Corey


    The team is in a really exciting position.  Monroe is an all-star as soon as the  pistons are over .500 when they select the team.  Stuckey is at least a good starting shooting guard, and if (big if maybe) he can stay healthy he’s a top 10 shooting guard, as said. The pistonsreally could be .500 this season, if Knight and Drummond show signs of development or even competence. 
    But consider this set of possibilities: 
    What if Kravtsov is a competent backup center. Not great, just a big, competent defensive backup center?
    What if Drummond shows real improvement during the season? Not that he’s great this year, just that he shows he’s willing to work hard, and is improving. That will suggest that in a year or two the pistons have a quality starting center of unlimited potential to put next to Monroe as an all-star PF.
    What if Jerebko or Singler starts looking like a starting quality small forward? After Jerebko’s Eurobasket performance, I think he could get there. Or at least be one heck of a backup combo forward. 
    What if Knight improves as a point guard after having time to work with his coaches and learn the offense for the first time? Even if he doesn’t pan out as a good starting point guard in the short term, he’s at least going to be a good combo guard/3rd guard off the bench.  
    What if Stuckey is a competent starting 2 guard? This one is easy – he already is. He could be better, if he ever stays healthy. If.
    That is a lot of what if’s, I grant you.  But look at the result, at the end of this season, if they all come true:
    Drummond/Kravtsov at center.  The position is looking solid for years to come, and could become a huge strength in a couple more years if Drummond gets even 2/3 of the way to his potential.
    Monroe at PF – an all-star level PF, even if he isn’t selected to the team this year, who can also play center if needed.
    Prince and Singler at SF – this is the area most likely in need of improvement. But either Singler or Jerebko could prove to be a competent starting SF by the end of this season. Jerebko, after his eurobasket showing, will at LEAST be a competent, quality backup combo forward worth 20+ minutes a game. 
    Stuckey at SG – quality starting 2, with the possibility of sniffing an all star game or two if he puts together a full season.
    Knight – a competent starting PG, with quality shooting and defensive skills, but still needing more development at running the offense.
    That is a competent 8 man rotation that is likely the core of a playoff team in 2013-14. And then consider the 2013 off-season. If they make the playoffs in 2013, look out, because that’ll mean almost all of these “what-ifs” came true, and the team is already solid. If not, they get their 2013 lottery pick to help with one of the weak areas, plus free agency. 
    If they drop Daye and amnesty Villanueva, they have $34m of committed salary for 2013-14. That’ll put them at least $24m under the cap.  Whichever position is still needed, they can target through free agency, or through trades using the big pile of cap space (or expiring contracts this year, of which they have around $20m).  And this happens right before the new guys (Monroe, Knight, Drummond, in order) need contract extensions.
    For all the clusterf*** Joe made of the team with the Iverson trade and the Gordon/Villanueva signings, he’s at least brought them back into a great position for a young team. 

  • Sep 29, 20129:56 pm
    by T Mc


    Relax with the breakout season for Stuck talk. He is what he is I think he has peaked. Gimme a break it’s been Stuckeys breakout out season for at least 3years now. But he might get a couple more “this is the year he…” considering Tay got so many lmao fella get real he’s just not elite.

  • Sep 30, 201212:17 am
    by Vic


    I think he’s already a top 10 sg when not injured, based on last year (his first year playing sg)
    Its not the same old breakout talk, it’s a new position that fits his role a little better- a scorer and attacker  

    • Sep 30, 20128:41 pm
      by tarsier


      By and large (apart from PG and PF), being top ten at one’s position doesn’t mean all that much. It makes somebody an above average starter. That’s it. So when you have a superstar or two, having other guys on the team who are top ten at their position is huge. But when you don’t, it is awfully hard to contend just with above average starters, even if all five are top ten at their positions. Hence why the Pistons need Monroe or Drummond to be great or to make a huge move to bring in a star from another team (via trade or FA).

      • Oct 1, 20124:44 am
        by vic


        true, and were in aperfect position for both GMonroe and Drummond to be great, and get a star free agent that fits

        • Oct 1, 20128:26 am
          by tarsier


          If all three of those happen, yeah, the Pistons will be sitting pretty. Heck, I’d be ecstatic if two of them happened. But realistically, probably one of them will. If none do, that’d be a damn shame.

  • Oct 1, 201212:48 am
    by Jerrific


    Slava is the player I am most excited to see this season. He’s such an unkown. We basically know what we’re getting from everyone else. Drummond is incredibly talented but raw. Singler is skilled and has a high motor, but isn’t all that talented. The rest of the players are either second rounders (little likelihood of making an impact) or known quantities, albeit with potential for improvement (Knight and Monroe). Slava is the one player that has tantalizing potential, experience, and, because of the nature of his experience, is almost impossible to project at the next level.  

  • Oct 1, 201210:15 am
    by Casey


    What is the starting line up this year and depth chart?

    BK / Will
    Stuck / Kim
    Prince / Singler / Daye / Middleton
    Monroe / JJ / CV
    Drummond/ Slav / Max

    Max my play more in the first half for trade bat while the big men get there feet wet

    • Oct 1, 20124:05 pm
      by jerrific


      corey maggetie will likely find his when into the rotation, assuming he stays healthy

  • Oct 2, 20127:48 pm
    by adam


    I don’t get why everyone is so quick to write off Knight as not capable of cracking top-10 status. This is entire team is oozing with potential and is being coached to work to the max to get it out. Knight had nothing to go on as far as the NBA game is concerned to start last year. He has put on alot of muscle (10-12 pounds) on his already excellent PG frame. And do I even need to mention his age and the fact that he can blast the 3(a skill that will only improve)? He is obviously working hard on his handle and playmaking ability with the pass. I don’t know, i’m a nuthugger. Everything else has been said about this squad. Monroe is a legitimate all-star that’s still improving vastly. Locked down at all positions, imo. especially with the cap room that will be available in the summer for, say, a premier SF? English, Singler, Stuckey, Jerebko, can cover the 2, 3. Center is the big question mark. Both Drummond and Slava are, like Knight, just shining with potential. With the work effort that’s being demanded by the coaches and players, i see this squad getting very good.

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