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Archive → May, 2013

Hoping for Anthony Bennett, debating Shabazz Muhammad/Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Me at the Detroit Free Press:

At this point, Noel, Burke, Porter, McLemore and Oladipo are pipe dreams for the Pistons.

That makes Bennett, ranked by some in a group with the aforementioned five players, Detroit’s dream pick.

Bennett, a freshman forward from UNLV, is an explosive athlete whose ball skills and mobility make him a matchup issue for opposing power forwards. There’s a chance he can transition to small forward, but I wouldn’t count on it. Obviously, that’s not ideal with Monroe and Drummond — and neither is Bennett’s defensive indifference at UNLV nor the rotator-cuff surgery he had that will keep him out until the fall — but Bennett is so far ahead of the next prospect that if he’s there, he should be the pick.

[C.J. McCollum] scored very well at Lehigh, but he didn’t show the passing skills his height (6-feet-3) will require in the NBA. Lehigh needed McCollum to score, and it’s possible he has playmaking skills the system never allowed him to showcase, but it’s a risk to draft a player who didn’t prove himself, regardless of the reason. Another question is whether he and Brandon Knight are big enough to defend in tandem, but at this point, I wouldn’t let Knight’s presence influence any draft decisions.

UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad is probably the best fit in this tier, considering the Pistons need another wing player. Muhammad has taken more criticism than anyone in this draft — both deserved (lies about his age) and undeserved (NCAA scrutiny, backpack). But he works hard and always plays hard, and those traits should get more consideration than they have.

Maryland’s Alex Len is skilled and tall, but maybe soft. Indiana’s Cody Zeller produced very well in the nation’s best conference, but his wingspan and tendency to get pushed around leaves questions. But both big men can add only so much value to a team that already has Monroe and Drummond.

Syracuse’s Michel Carter-Williams makes excellent passes, but he also turns the ball over too much and is a terrible shooter. He and Knight would complement each other well in the backcourt (besides combining for too many turnovers), but there’s no guarantee either will become good enough to start in the NBA.

Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has seen his draft stock rise quickly. He’s a good shooter and defender, an important combination, though question marks about his ballhandling limit his perceived upside.

He fits as well as Muhammad, so that leads to the question that has a very good chance of determining Detroit’s pick: Is Shabazz Muhammad or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope a better prospect?

Click through to the Free Press to see my early top-seven mock draft. I’ll share my current prediction for the Pistons’ No. 8 pick in a post here later today.

Pistons prefer to draft perimeter player

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

Joe D on drafting a big: "Our preference is to look at the perimeter, but by no means are we locked in to that."

This is where the tier system I’ve advocated comes in handy. If the Pistons adhere to that system or a similar one, they would take any big man who is clear step above a perimeter player. But when dealing with similarly valued players, they’d pick the perimeter player.

Maybe it’s nothing, but I noticed Joe Dumars said “perimeter” rather than “wing” – the difference being the former includes point guards. Again, maybe it’s nothing, but maybe that says something about the Pistons’ faith in Brandon Knight developing and/or Jose Calderon re-signing.

Phil Jackson and Joe Dumars aren’t talking much anymore

David Mayo of MLive:

Dumars said he and Phil Jackson, who was retained by Pistons owner Tom Gores as a consultant in the coaching search, “spent a lot of time together during those two days” when the former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach visited here two weeks ago.

The two have had “one or two conversations since then,” Dumars said.

Score one more point for the theory Phil Jackson’s role with the Pistons is only for show. That’s a worthless exercise, but it’s better than the alternative: Jackson and Dumars engaging in a harmful power struggle.

Andre Drummond initiated plan to train with Hakeem Olajuwon

NEW YORK – Andre Drummond didn’t respond directly to my question about what he hoped to get from training with Hakeem Olajuwon this summer.

“What?” Drummond gasped.

I wasn’t sure whether he heard me. He was, after all, walking from the Millennium Broadway Hotel to Times Square Studios for the lottery while we talked. But he also might have seen the question as dumb. After all, why train with Olajuwon for reasons other than refining post moves?

I repeat the question with an implied, “You know, specifically.”

“Obviously, get a better offensive set and use my quick speed and my feet to my advantage,” Drummond said.

I still have much of the same skepticism about how much Olajuwon will help Drummond, but I’m becoming more optimistic. Drummond moves extremely well for his size, and and even if Olajuwon doesn’t turn Drummond into a great, or even good, post player, better footwork could help in a lot of ways.

Just as when the news broke, I remain impressed with Drummond’s initiative, especially once he confirmed the Pistons didn’t urge him to approach Olajuwon.

“It was my idea to look and seek him out,” Drummond said. “I’m glad that he accepted the offer and wanted to work with me when the time’s right.”

Andre Drummond not stressing All-Rookie snub

NEW YORK –  Andre Drummond got screwed in All-Rookie voting. Lawrence Frank screwed him by not playing him more. And the voters screwed him by not realizing, even in limited minutes, Drummond still contributed more overall than some of the players who made the All-Rookie first team.

But don’t bother talking to Drummond about making the second team instead.

“I’m not worried about first and second,” Drummond said. “I’m just worried about winning games.

“I’m just not worried about all the extra stuff. I’m worried about basketball games and trying to get to the playoffs.”

Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond invited to USA Basketball minicamp

Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

Hearing both @M10OSE and @DRE_DRUMMOND_ have been invited to USA Basketball’s summer minicamp in Vegas.

First of all, this is a nice honor for Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They’re two of America’s most promising young big men, and they deserve a chance to show their skills in this environment.

Let’s put a little context into this. At this point in the cycle before the 2012 Olympics, USA Basketball invited 25 players to its July 2009 minicamp. Here’s how USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo described the camp:

While we look to continue to build continuity within the USA national team program and continue to improve, in 2009 we will get a look at some of the top young NBA players who haven’t been involved in USA Basketball at the top national program level previously.   Although some of these players have represented USA Basketball in the past, this is their opportunity to be considered for the next generation of players who will help make up the USA Basketball National program.

Just four of the 25 players at the camp – Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook – made the 2012 Olympic team. Other players there included D.J. Augustin, Jerryd Bayless and Ronnie Brewer. So, this isn’t necessarily a path to stardom.

But, at this point, the invitations are well-deserved positive recognition for Monroe and Drummond.

Joe Dumars prefers Nate McMillan or Maurice Cheeks; Phil Jackson prefers Brian Shaw

Chris Broussard on the Pistons’ coaching vacancy:

If Jackson has his way, the prevailing thought around the league is that his protégé Brian Shaw will wind up with the job.

On the other hand, sources say Dumars’ top two choices are Nate McMillan and Maurice Cheeks. Dumars also was hoping to make his hire before last week’s NBA draft combine in Chicago, the sources indicated.

Considering the Pistons have yet to interview Shaw and are done interviewing new candidates, it seems unlikely Phil Jackson gets his way.

Will Joe Dumars get his? He preferred Mike Woodson last time, and Tom Gores overruled him to hire Lawrence Frank.

Gores’ late-season statements coupled with his hiring of Jackson has opened plenty of question about Dumars’ status. The coaching hire should tell us plenty about how much power Dumars still holds. 

Pistons done bringing in coaching candidates

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

But as the Pistons concluded their interview with Oklahoma City assistant Maurice Cheeks Wednesday, their first face-to-face meeting after phone conversations while the Thunder were still in the playoffs, it appears they won’t be bringing in any more candidates, a source tells The Detroit News.

No Brian Shaw. No David Fizdale. No Larry Drew.

Considering we don’t know everyone Joe Dumars has interviewed, this news means only so much. But it might indicate the Pistons will hire a coach before the conference finals end – unless they really had no interest in Shaw or Lionel Hollins, anyway.

Larry Drew reportedly can’t contact Pistons about coaching vacancy

The Atlanta Hawks are looking for a new coach, even though they have Larry Drew. But they’ve reportedly been very up front with Drew about this and have tried to accommodate him. Chris Vivlamore The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Drew told the Atlanta Journal Constitution Friday that in a meeting with general manager Danny Ferry earlier this week the two came to an amicable agreement to allow the coach to interview for other vacant positions in the league.

Drew is a good coach – he went 44-38, 40-26 and 44-38 and won a playoff series with a few transitional rosters – and he’s a former Pistons player. He’s not necessarily the best candidate available, but he might be, and the Pistons should at least talk to him.

But, apparently, they can’t do that. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

Drew’s contract expires at the end of June, but Hawks management hasn’t approached him about an extension and is talking to other teams. Drew doesn’t have the luxury of reaching out to the Pistons and they would need permission from the Hawks to interview him, a different proposition than interviewing a team’s assistant coach.

But what about Drew saying he could interview around the league? Goodwill:

Heard from Drew’s camp that it’s more complicated than it’s being made to be publicly

Vincent Goodwill: Pistons have not interviewed Brian Shaw or David Fizdale

Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News:

The Pistons also formally interviewed former Pistons and Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter and Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, among others, but haven’t yet talked to Pacers assistant Brian Shaw or Heat assistant David Fizdale, whose teams are still in the playoffs.

My skepticism of a Brian Shaw interview, which the Detroit Free Press reported, turned out to be correct. The Pacers have maintained they weren’t giving their assistants permission to interview elsewhere until after the playoffs, and I guess Shaw with the Pistons was no exception.

Goodwill previously reported the Pistons wanted to interview both Shaw and Fizdale. It’s not impossible for assistants to interview during the playoffs, but there are definitely hurdles.