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Not all Kim English stories have a happy ending, but hopefully this one will

WASHINGTON – Kim English, on his way from getting up a few early shots or doing whatever players do 90 before games, jogged down a Verizon Center hallway back to the Pistons locker room Saturday. As English turned one entranceway too soon, a Wizards event staff member alerted him to the error – then said he’d send English back the wrong way once the game began, his way of giving the hometown team an edge.

“I don’t play,” English yelled back, his tone more humorous than resentful.

The event staff member reminded English that plenty of benchwarmers get their chance against the Wizards – who’d lost six straight, including the Pistons’ 100-68 win Friday.

“You’re right,” English said. “I played last night.”

A few minutes later, Lawrence Frank would say English was active for the game, again in place of Corey Maggette, who’d occupied a rotation long after English had lost his.

“Looking at Kim, especially coming back home, opportunity mainly to play in front of family and friends,” Frank said.

Of course, English didn’t play Saturday. He doesn’t play most games.

As an NBA player, English is pretty unremarkable. He was a second-round pick, and most second-round picks don’t last. On the court, aside from his 47 percent 3-point shooting in an extremely small sample, there’s little evidence he’ll stick in the league. Even as an ordinary prospect, he’s unremarkable. There are 70 others who’ve been good enough to play an NBA minute this season but have played less than English.

What makes English stand out, though, is his likability.

He grew up in Baltimore with a girl’s name and a stutter, but that just hardened him. As did his summers at his father’s construction company. From the time he was about 12 until he went to college, he poured concrete for English Concrete Contractors.

“It was labor. Definitely hard work,” English said. “It gives you an appreciation that there’s people out there that do that for a living. It takes this and puts it perspective.”

Unfortunately, English might need that perspective. Next to Austin Daye, no Piston has a more tenuous spot in the NBA than English, whose contract is fully unguaranteed for next season

It would be easy to end this post by saying English will make it as an NBA player, adding some cliché that English’s resolve is as solid as the concrete he poured.

But, in the NBA, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, likeable players don’t make it. Sometimes, small disappointments like not playing in front of hometown fans develop into big disappointments like losing a roster spot.

There’s no grand narrative here – just a player I’m still hoping will, and very well could, succeed, but might not.


  • Dec 26, 20128:48 am
    by Steve K


    Would certainly be nice to increase that sample size. It’s not like this team is playing for a championship. It’s crazy how the management loses sight of the big picture. 

  • Dec 26, 20128:49 am
    by DG


    At the least, though, he should still be able to go overseas and make some casholla.  I would love to see him stick in detroit though.  I think his personality makes him valuable.

  • Dec 26, 201210:50 am
    by Corey


    On the plus side- roster depth is so bad at SG, they’re almost sure to need him at some point.

  • Dec 26, 201211:03 am
    by Georgio


    If guys like Kyle Korver and Steve Novak can make it in the league based on their 3 pt shooting, I see no reason that English, with his legitimate SG size and willingness to defend, cannot make it also. He just needs a real opportunity to show that he can consistently knock down that shot. Another thing about English is that he runs the floor and finishes on the break very well and the ball doesn’t get stuck in his hands, he keeps it moving, all qualities that bode well for his NBA career.  

  • Dec 26, 201211:13 am
    by DasMark


    I hope he becomes a rotation player. Detroit may need cheap contracts after they likely gut the roster this offseason. 

  • Dec 26, 20121:31 pm
    by Alan


    This franchise may, realistically, only have 12 players under contract for 2013-14 (including the two draft picks).  At a salary of less than $1mm, a one-year positive history with the club, and having already beaten out training camp invites (Flynn & Williams)…I will say there’s a better chance English is on next year’s squad than not.

  • Dec 26, 20121:33 pm
    by frankie d


    the way the pistons have treated kim english is indicative of why they have been mired in less than mediocrity for so long.
    here is a guy with skills and talents – 3 point shooting and leadership – that the team sorely needs.
    but instead of giving that player the chance to show whether he can provide those skills and talents for the team consistently, the team continues down the path with old players they definitely know will ultimately be deficient.
    the problem starts with dumars – for failing to sweep the roster clear of veteran dead weight – and responsibility also falls on coaches – especially kuester and frank – for failing to comprehend the best way to move forward and away from the swamp of the last few years.
    i see english, unfortunately, becoming another aaron afflalo.  with another team.
    imho, the biggest problem the team has, and has had for a number of years, is on-court leadership.  ever since chauncey left, they’ve had no one to fill that on court role.  i thought afflalo was perfect for the job, but obviously joe d thought otherwise.
    imho, english is perfect for the job.  and he’ll do it either here or elsewhere.

    • Dec 26, 20126:10 pm
      by gmehl


      Yeah you know San Antonio wouldn’t be wasting his talent. Look at how they utilize players like Gary Neal.

  • Dec 26, 20121:46 pm
    by Crispus


    It would be crippling if Joe D didn’t make some room on the roster by trading veterans. Maxiell needs to go. Maggette and Tayshaun should go. Opening up the SF spot for Singler, JJ and Daye and getting English and Drummond some major PT might not win us a ton of games, but it will bring about that Internal Improvement that’s been written about extensively on this blog. It will also give us a better idea of where we stand talent-wise and what needs to happen with the roster.

  • Dec 26, 20122:22 pm
    by bugsygod


    On your salary page, it shows English with a partially guaranteed contract.  Is that correct and how much is guaranteed?

  • Dec 26, 20122:26 pm
    by Tom Y.


    English certainly has more than jiust likability going for him. He’s got basketball IQ, a great passion for the game, a work ethic, along with shooting and defense. He could develop into another Afllalo, or a Bruce Bowen type of role player. As Frankie D mentioned, that’s exactly the type of player this team needs, and hopefully they’ll realize this and give him a real chance soon.

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