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Archive → May, 2013

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Victor Oladipo

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 213 pounds, junior forward from the Indiana University.
  • Key Stats: 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.2 steals and 0.8 blocks per game; shot 60 percent from the field and 44 percent from 3-point territory.
  • Projected: Top-5 pick.
  • Hickory High similarity score

Random Fact

He’ll flat out admit it, as he did at the NBA Draft Combine this week, but Victor Oladipo is a weird dude. There’s nothing wrong with that — some guys just march to the beat of their own drum — but Oladipo is his own man. He’s a gym rat, a guy who’s improved his game infinitely since he arrived in Bloomington, Ind., three years ago.

But apparently he’s not all hoops. He’s actually got some pipes, which were on display at the Spirit of Indiana Showcase two years ago when he covered Usher’s hit, “U Got It Bad,” via BroBible:

It turns out he’s not just stealing the ball from opposing ball handlers, but also stealing the hearts of Indiana coeds since 2010.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Where to start? He’s a high-energy, high-effort guy who never seems to take a play off. Defensively, he would step in as the Pistons’ best perimeter defender since Tayshaun Prince in 2008, and that alone makes him worth a selection in the top-8 picks.

The thing about a weak draft like this is there are only two ways of drafting — you’re either gambling on a high-risk, high-reward guy or taking the safe bet. Sure, the ridicule of passing on a potential future superstar is difficult, but at the same time, you’re avoiding drafting the next Michael Olowokandi, too.

Comparing Oladipo to Dwyane Wade is extremely lazy, but there’s a short list of guys in this draft who aren’t going to get you fired. Oladpio is one of them. Oladipo’s on the shorter side (6-foot-4), but with a 6-foot-9 wingspan and elite athleticism, he’ll provide defense from day one. Plus, he’ll slide into a team’s offensive system relatively smoothly due to his versatility.

It’s become a common practice in today’s NBA, but more and more teams are relying heavily on guys who aren’t A+ offensive players, but make up the difference on defense. Whether it’s Danny Green in San Antonio, Tony Allen (a very good Oladipo comparison) in Memphis or Shane Battier in Miami, these guys don’t make or break you offensively, but they impact the game on defense.

If the Pistons need help in one area, it’s defense. Even if they have something of a logjam at shooting guard with Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, the insertion of Oladipo into the lineup is going to improve the team’s perimeter defense — a glaring weakness last season with apathetic defenders like Jose Calderon and, and to varying degrees, Will Bynum and Stuckey playing big minutes.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

For all the good he brings on defense, he’s still a work in progress offensively. He’s athletic, and that’s something of a must for perimeter players in today’s NBA, but he doesn’t really handle the ball well and makes way too many turnovers.

The majority of his offense at Indiana came off of open shots created by Cody Zeller down low or the fact that the team spaced the floor with 3-point shooters at every position. For a Pistons’ team that struggles to space the floor for Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond due to some questionable perimeter shooting, Oladipo won’t help the spacing problems.

Tony Allen is the trendy comparison, and it’s one that I actually like because people sometimes forget how explosive Allen was prior to tearing his ACL early in his career. Allen’s not a great shooter, and although Oladipo has a set shot, he’s not a threat to create his own offense and there are questions as to how his shooting range will translate to the NBA 3-point line.

Oladipo fits the mold of the trendy 3-and-D wing player. As I mentioned above, those guys are extremely valuable, even if they’re limited offensively. He’s going to need to solidify his jump shot from the NBA 3-point line in order to truly fit into that mold because, as of right now, he’s just a good set-midrange shooter.

But really, if he does that and his ceiling becomes what he was in college this year — albeit less efficient than 60/44/75 — are you really mad about drafting him? He’s a safe pick, and if that’s what the Pistons are looking for he’s their guy, assuming he’s around wherever they’re picking after tonight’s lottery.

The biggest problem with Oladipo is going to be where he lands. There are some guys who have a role and will be good in that role no matter where they are. There are some guys like that who are thrown into roles too large for them due to poor talent around them and things go down hill from there. Oladipo is what he is. He’s not going to be a scorer for you. That’s why Michael Kidd-Gilchrist struggled in Charlotte. He was out of his element, and Oladipo faces similar challenges.

From the Experts

Chad Ford:

Oladipo is the best perimeter defender in the country and an elite athlete who plays at a relentless pace. He’s still a work in progress offensively, but he can guard three positions on the floor and is an elite finisher at the rim. His shooting has dramatically improved, as have his ballhandling skills, but they’ll need to continue to improve for Oladipo to be a scorer at the next level. Look for him to go somewhere between No. 3 and No. 8 in the draft.

DraftExpress:

With the ability to guard up to four positions at the college level, Oladipo projects to be able to defend all three perimeter positions at the NBA level, depending on matchups. He has the speed and quickness to cover point guards, and his athleticism, strength, and toughness should enable him to guard most small forwards as well. Coaches will likely value the flexibility Oladipo gives them on the defensive end, as they can cross-match and hide weaker defenders while putting Oladipo on the opposing team’s top perimeter threat, regardless of position.

On film

Pistons probably haven’t interviewed Maurice Cheeks or Brian Shaw, despite report indicating they did

The Detroit Free Press published an un-bylined article called “Pistons’ coaching search: Who’s been interviewed so far.” It contains a chart with several coaches on the market and a column called “Interview.”

Maurice Cheeks and Brian Shaw each have a ‘Y’ in their row under the “Interview column.”

I have no specific information about whether the Pistons interviewed Cheeks or Shaw, but I’m extremely skeptical. I doubt the Free Press would break news of either interview in a format like this, and neither interview has been reported elsewhere that I’ve seen.

Cheeks’ name has been floated a few times by beat writers, but none that I’ve seen have gone as far to report the Pistons are interested. Mostly, the wording has been something along the lines of: Cheeks is believed to be on the Pistons’ radar. I’ve seen no solid reports he’s a candidate, let alone that he’s interviewed.

The Pacers have consistently maintained they’d prefer their assistants wait to interview until after Indiana completes it’s playoff run, and there has been no indication Shaw has deviated from that. There was a sourced report the Pistons contacted Shaw about setting up an interview, and though that was often twisted as it spread across the internet, the report didn’t even go as far to say Shaw had agreed to interview at any point.

More likely than not, the Free Press chart was compiled by someone who’s not closely following the Pistons’ coaching search – though I’ll acknowledge the slightest chance it was compiled by someone who’s following the Pistons’ coaching search more closely than anyone else. If that’s the case, the Free Press should put a byline on that piece and explain more about sourcing behind the Cheeks and Shaw interviews.

Until then, take this with a grain of salt.

ESPN’s Bad Boys documentary sounds awesome, judging by early details

When news broke ESPN would finally air a much-discussed documentary on the Bad Boys, I was mildly excited. I’m sure, like nearly every episode of the 30 for 30 series, it will be entertaining and informative.

But I, and I suspect many Pistons fans, have seen and read so much about the Bad Boys that new information on the topic is lacking. It’s basically repetitive at this point.

To be clear, I would enjoy watching an hour of repetitive about those teams, but it’s tough to get too excited about something like that.

Well, now I’m excited. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated wrote about the documentary, and here the top three things he wrote that have me so excited:

Three

two-hour documentary

Two

Given the previous collaboration between ESPN Films and NBA Entertainment — they partnered on the brilliant "Once Brothers" and the terrific "The Announcement" — Bad Boys is likely to be one of the better "30 for 30" efforts. (NBA Entertainment also produced the last year’s sensational "Dream Team" documentary for NBA TV.)

One

Cocoros said he’s already discovered never-before-seen footage of the team inside the locker room before and after games, as well as compelling footage of Chuck Daly’s huddles. "The way this team went about their business kind of mirrored the city — the toughness and the blue-collar work ethic," Cocoros said. "We will look at what was going on in Detroit in the 1980s. There is a lot of parallel to the time period and this film will bring that story to life."

Andre Drummond to represent Pistons at NBA Draft lottery

The Pistons’ lottery cycle continues.

For the third straight year, the Pistons will send a player they drafted in the previous lottery to represent them in the next one. Greg Monroe was there in 2011 when they got the No. 8 pick that became Brandon Knight, and Knight was there in 2012 to see them get the No. 9 that became Andre Drummond.

Now, Drummond will trek to the New York area to see the Pistons likely land the No. 7 or No. 8 pick, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

Hopefully, Nerlens Noel will represent the Pistons at the 2014 lottery. Better yet, hopefully he’ll the Pistons on television for a different reason that night.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Nerlens Noel

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-11, 215 pounds, freshman center from the University of Kentucky.
  • Key Stats: 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 2.3 steals and 4.4 blocks per game; shot 59 percent from the field.
  • Projected: Top-5 pick.
  • Hickory High similarity score

Random Fact

Nerlen’s Noel is probably most known for his shot-blocking acumen and tearing his ACL in a national TV loss to Florida mid-way through the season.

What he’s also known for is eraser-top haircut. The dude’s hair rivals Kid from Kid ‘n Play, and when he announced his decision to attend the University of Kentucky last season, he of course did it in the most “look at me” way ever done with hair. Via Deadspin:

Yes, he shaved the UK logo into his head. There’s no joke to make because that is too perfect.

Fits with the Pistons because …

He’s a really good basketball player. The Pistons may have a developing core group of young frontcourt players, but they still aren’t good enough to pick for need and not value. They should not forgo drafting the best prospect in this draft just because he doesn’t fill an immediate need.

Noel doesn’t have a polished offensive game, but at 19, he already has an NBA-ready skill in shot blocking. He’s one of the best pure shot blockers to come out in recent years, perhaps even better than Anthony Davis last year.

The difference between Noel and Davis is on the offensive end. Both are mighty thin (Noel is 215 pounds), but Davis has some semblance of a face-up game. Noel’s got very little. He improved as the season went on, and had he not been forced out of action early, he was only going to get better.

Perhaps he even can serve as a trade-igniter for the anti-Greg Monroe crowd. But I digress.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

He’s still recovering from the torn ACL, and Pistons.com’s Keith Langlois recently reported that Noel hopes to be back ready to go by Christmas. The knee injury shouldn’t scare teams away because he’s a 19-year-old who is ahead of schedule on his rehab.

The Pistons need a wing or point guard much more than another big man, even if Noel is just too good to pass up. There are major questions how Noel would play with Andre Drummond, considering both are so similar and, at this point, limited. Offensively, neither has range or the ability to handle the ball, and they might just clog the paint and prevent each other from the lobs they’re so great at finishing. Defensively, both could be elite rim protectors, but if they’re just duplicating that skill, it could leave a void in defending outside the paint.

From the Experts

Chad Ford:

Noel’s season ended on Feb. 12 when he tore his left ACL. However, the injury has done little to hurt his draft stock. Noel has been atop our Big Board all year with the exception of a brief slip to No. 2 after the injury. He has great size and athletic ability, and he proved to be one of the hardest-working players at Kentucky this season. Although his offensive game is a work in progress, he has as much upside as anyone in the draft. We currently project him as the No. 1 player on our board and he goes No. 1 in most mock draft scenarios.

DraftExpress:

Any discussion about Noel’s potential as a NBA prospect should start with his phenomenal physical attributes. Measured at 6-10 without shoes, with a 7-4 wingspan and exceptional athletic ability, Noel is a rare specimen. He runs the floor like a guard, is extremely nimble and quick, and has pogo stick leaping ability. This allows him to cover ground unbelievably well both vertically and horizontally, which helps him impact the game in numerous ways. It’s safe to say that, should he make a full recovery from his injury as expected, he’ll be one of the most athletic big men in the NBA.

What is the best thing Noel does for his team?

Glenn Logan (follow his blog on Twitter @ASeaOfBlue) covers the University of Kentucky for A Sea of Blue, SB Nation’s Kentucky blog:

When Kentucky fans think of Nerlens Noel, one image will forever be galvanized in our brains — the image of Noel running 94 feet to block a shot in a game that was almost surely lost while most of his teammates barely made it past half court, only to be injured when he landed awkwardly. What most of us forget is that he actually did block the shot. That’s the kind of competitive determination that defines Noel, and the lucky NBA team that gets him will never regret the pick.

Yes, Noel is extremely raw. He isn’t very good at the game of basketball yet, but he is an athletic marvel, perhaps the quickest 6’10″ player to ever enter the NBA draft. Defensively, he needs very little work to have an immediate impact. Almost everyone knows about his prodigious shot-blocking, but what most people don’t know is that Noel blocks shots equally well with either hand, an extremely rare skill that is almost absent from any level of basketball. It matters — a lot. He also averaged over two steals per game, something almost never seen in combination with great shot-blocking. Offensively, he’ll take some time to develop, so a team needing immediate low block scoring or a face-up game might want to look elsewhere.

Finally, Noel is a genuinely good person who deeply involved in the community. He loves the game of basketball and is completely coachable at any level. He has a few potential negatives with his body type from a sports business standpoint, but from a personal standpoint, any team will be lucky to have him in their locker room. I cannot recommend Noel highly enough, and the value of his intangibles, though overshadowed by his astonishing athletic gifts, are almost reason enough to draft him by themselves.

On film

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jeff Withey

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-11, 240 pounds, senior center from the University of Kansas 
  • Key Stats: 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks per game; shot 58 percent from the field. 
  • Projected: Mid-first round.
  • Hickory High similarity score

Random Fact

There are a lot of scatter-brained, potentially inebriated ideas that college students concoct — some great and some bad. But you’ve got to give it up, the cult following that Withey had during his four year’s at Kansas are pretty hilarious.

Not only did he have a parody Twitter account called @FakeJeffWithey, which is how I really hope he acts, if just for hilarity’s sake, but he’s also got two websites dedicated to his presence.

First you’ve got WitheyBlockParty.com which is literally a blog featuring a boatload of Withey’s blocks at KU. He had 286 in his final two seasons, and by listening to the calls of each block, you’d think the Kansas announcers had never seen him block a shot. There was actually a Twitter hashtag, #witheyblockparty, that was really a thing during the season and tournament, too.

The other goes by the name WitheyFace.com. If you’ve ever heard of ManningFace.com, you’ll know what this is. You’ll notice right off the bat that a snarling Jeff Withey closely resembles the Jayhawks logo. I’ll just leave you all with these 500 or so staring Withey faces…

Fits with the Pistons because …

There are a number of holes on the Pistons’ roster, but one of the more underrated ones is in the front court. The team already has it’s cornerstones in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, but with Jason Maxiell entering free agency and Charlie Villanueva being Charlie Villanueva, the Pistons need a third big man.

Withey’s biggest strength — shot blocking — is one of the Pistons’ biggest weaknesses. There’s the niche of fans under the assumption that the Pistons already have a Withey-like player in Slava Kravtsov, but Withey has an plus-NBA skill. Kravtsov lacks that.

There’s no reason a team wouldn’t want a guy like Withey on their team. Even if all he ends up being in the NBA is an above-average shot blocker from the weak side, he’s still got value. The question is where does that value start. The Pistons are drafting in the top-10, but not again until the early second round.

Withey would be a horrible reach in the early-to-mid lottery, but in the early second round, he’d be perfect. The chances of that aren’t great now, especially considering the kind of great-at-one-skill players like Withey are usually a value to contenders who can pick and choose when and how they use them later in a draft.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

He’s not going to help a sometimes-stagnant offense. For all the good that Withey brings on defense, he’s still somewhat easy to push around on the block and doesn’t have any semblance of a post game. That’s something that can be cultivated and developed, but he’s going to be a non-factor on offense early.

I’ve gushed about the shot blocking, but he’s not a great defender individually. There’s confusion sometimes between really good defenders and really good shot blockers — there’s a difference. Serge Ibaka is a GREAT shot blocker, but just an above-average defender. Right now, Withey’s a really good shot blocker, NBA caliber, but in college hoops, specifically the Big 12, you’re not facing any sort of real post threat.

The best example of that might be his struggles with Michigan freshman Mitch McGary in the Sweet 16. Withey was muscled around and tossed aside by McGary, whose post game is hardly refined, even by college standards. That’s scary if you’re a GM looking at Withey to be a key defender for you.

Fair or unfair, he’s also kind of been stereotyped as the big, goofy stiff who is bound to be a bust. The fact that his predecessor, Cole Aldrich, has really done nothing in three seasons with a very similar skill set doesn’t help, either.

From the Experts

Chad Ford:

If there was a shot-blocking drill where the goal was to block as many shots as possible without fouling the shooter, Withey would walk away with the prize handily. Alas, the focus on offense probably won’t speak to Withey’s strengths at the combine. Big men rarely have their stock helped or hurt at the combine — his real tests will come in workouts against Gorgui Dieng, Steven Adams, Rudy Gobert and Mason Plumlee.

DraftExpress:

Athletic 7-footers with great defensive instincts and excellent finishing ability don’t grow on trees, though, so there will surely be a market for his services this upcoming June. A playoff team drafting in the second half of the first round could be very happy picking a player who is well-coached, experienced and ready to compete from day one, as if he pans out, he could present excellent value to a NBA team playing on a rookie scale contract.

On film

Pistons contact Brian Shaw for interview

Tom Leyden of ABC 7:

Indiana Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw has been contacted by the Detroit Pistons to interview for the team’s head coaching job, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The Phil Jackson influence appears to be showing. Shaw was Jackson’s heir apparent with the Lakers before Los Angeles hired Mike Brown instead.

Without the Lakers’ head job, Shaw become Indiana’s associate head coach, and he’s remained an in-demand candidate around the league. I don’t know how responsible Shaw is for the Pacers’ defense, but their schemes are excellent, and I’d love for the Pistons to hire someone heavily involved in designing and implementing those.

To be clear, Leyden is reporting only that the Pistons asked Shaw about interviewing. Despite how this report has been portrayed elsewhere, Leyden did not report Shaw agreed to interview. The Pacers are still alive in the playoffs, likely through the conference finals. Indiana wouldn’t let Shaw interview with the Nets until its playoff run ended, and the same will likely be true with the Pistons.

Kyle Singler and Andre Drummond make All-Rookie second team – yay and arghhh

The two best rookie seasons in the last three years that didn’t result in an All-Rookie first-team selection belong to Detroit Pistons.

Two years after Greg Monroe was ridiculously relegated to the All-Rookie second team, Andre Drummond received a similar – though slightly less egregious – fate.

Drummond and Kyle Singler made the 2012-13 All-Rookie second team, a nice honor for Singler (whom I had on my All-Rookie second team as the recipient of a wide-open race for the final spot), but a real sham for Drummond.

I get that Drummond, due to injury and Lawrence Frank’s stubbornness, didn’t play enough to contend for Rookie of the Year, and that should count against him here, too. But Drummond still saw the court enough to lead all rookies in offensive rebounds. That’s right. Drummond – who ranked 18th among rookies in minutes, 23rd in starts and 28th in games – still grabbed more offensive rebounds than any member of this rookie class.

These awards should be selected by impact, and though Drummond’s impact was muted by his playing-time restraints, he was so good while on the court, he belonged on the first team. He rarely turned the ball over and rarely missed shots, an efficiency combination which should have boosted a candidacy that was already strong thanks to his defensive bona fides and skills on the glass.

Instead, voters used the same tired criteria as usual.

Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Dion Waiters and Harrisons Barnes.

Is that the All-Rookie first team or the five rookies who scored the most points per game? Doesn’t matter. The list is identical.

I doubt NBA coaches are this rote – though, they might be – so it’s more likely they just don’t care about properly selecting these teams. (And I don’t really blame them. They have far more important responsibilities. This does not belong in their hands.) It also wasn’t an anti-Pistons conspiracy, considering Brandon Knight received an undeserving first-team nod last season.

Really, these awards don’t mean much, and though I tell myself that, I still get a little worked up about them.

I just hope Joe Dumars has a better grasp of his three most valuable players than the voting coaches do.

NBA All-Rookie voting

Reminder: layers are selected regardless of position.

Player, Team: points (first-second)

First team

  • Damian Lillard, Portland: 58 (29-0)
  • Bradley Beal, Washington: 57 (28-1)
  • Anthony Davis, New Orleans : 57 (28-1)
  • Dion Waiters, Cleveland: 50 (21-8)
  • Harrison Barnes, Golden State: 47 (18-11)

Second team

  • Andre Drummond, Detroit: 35 (10-15)
  • Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto: 31 (6-19)
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte: 29 (3-23)
  • Kyle Singler, Detroit: 17 (1-15)
  • Tyler Zeller, Cleveland: 15 (3-9)

Also receiving votes

  • Maurice Harkless, Orlando: 14 (1-12)
  • Alexey Shved, Minnesota: 14 (1-12)
  • Chris Copeland, New York: 9 (1-7)
  • Brian Roberts, New Orleans: 5 (0-5)
  • Andrew Nicholson, Orlando: 4 (0-4)
  • Jae Crowder, Dallas: 1 (0-1)
  • Festus Ezeli, Golden State: 1 (0-1)
  • Draymond Green, Golden State: 1 (0-1)
  • John Jenkins, Atlanta: 1 (0-1)
  • Terrence Jones, Houston: 1 (0-1)
  • Pablo Prigioni, New York: 1 (0-1)
  • Terrence Ross, Toronto: 1 (0-1)
  • Jeff Taylor, Charlotte: 1 (0-1)

The case for Darrell Walker as the Pistons’ next coach

When analyzing Darrell Walker as a Pistons’ coaching candidate, I’ve mostly lacked positives. Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News fill that void:

He garnered respect from the locker room, mostly due to his low-key demeanor and playing experience. He once vociferously protested Kuester taking guard Will Bynum out of a game at home against Portland during the fourth quarter, when Bynum was on a scoring binge, yelling, "What are you doing? You can’t take Will out of the game now!"

Disagreeing with John Kuester is a plus, but I’m not sure that qualifies Walker any more than anyone who saw Kuester coach the Pistons.

Bucks to interview Lakers’ Steve Clifford, which might hold meaning for Pistons

What do Nate McMillan, Kelvin Sampson and J.B. Bickerstaff have in common?

All three have been linked to the Pistons’ head-coaching vacancy, and all three have interviewed with the Bucks.

Perhaps, this is just coincidence. After all, teams like the Pistons and Bucks have only so many viable coaching candidates to pursue (plus Darrell Walker).

But maybe it’s not just dumb luck. Joe Dumars and John Hammond, the onetime No. 2 in Detroit’s front office who now serves as Milwaukee’s general manager, might just share similar preferences after years of working together and learning from each other.

That’s why Pistons fans should pay at least a little attention to a report the Bucks will interview Lakers assistant coach Steve Clifford. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

When Bucks general manager John Hammond reached out to gauge Stan Van Gundy’s interest in the job, Van Gundy declined but delivered a strong recommendation for Clifford, league sources said. Clifford spent five years on Van Gundy’s Orlando Magic staff before joining the Lakers in the summer of 2012.

Clifford fits the profile of the kind of hands-on, defensive-minded candidate that Hammond has been seeking

Will Clifford soon pop up on the Pistons’ radar? Not necessarily. But, at minimum, if Detroit’s and Milwaukee’s searches diverge, that would increase the Pistons’ chances of landing their top target.