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Category → Draft Dreams 2011

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: DeAndre Liggins

Currently, DraftExpress projects Kentucky swingman DeAndre Liggins to go with the 25th pick in the second round. The Pistons have the 22nd pick in the second round. I hope they seriously consider Liggins if he’s available. That might seem weird considering the Pistons are crowded on the perimeter, but there are several reasons I would be excited to see him in Detroit.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, junior G/F from Kentucky

Key stats: 8.6 points, 2.5 assists, 1.2 steals per game while shooting 42 percent from the field and 39 percent from three

Projected: Second round

How would he help the Pistons?

Liggins is one of the most versatile players in this draft. He played both wing spots for Kentucky and even had some ability to slide over and play the point if needed. He was always in a supporting role in college simply because Kentucky has had a parade of stars the last two seasons under John Calipari. Liggins himself was a highly rated high school prospect. But don’t let the numbers fool you: his best attribute was his ability to become a complimentary player in college.

Liggins is a potential lockdown perimeter defender in the NBA. He has a strong build and at 6-6, he has the size to bother players at any perimeter position. At Kentucky, he defended all three positions for the Wildcats. He also developed a reliable 3-point shot, knocking down 39 percent of his attempts as a junior.

With two second round picks, a looming lockout that could eliminate the Summer League and an already crowded roster, there’s a good chance whoever the Pistons take with their second second round pick will struggle to make the team. I’d much rather see them take a chance on a player like Liggins who has proven to be coachable and tough. He didn’t have as good a college career as Arron Afflalo, but his defense and versatility remind me a bit of Afflalo when the Pistons drafted him a few years ago. I don’t think Liggins will be a star in the NBA. I don’t know that he’ll even be a starting caliber player. But he seems to have the work ethic, physical tools and intelligence to carve out a very serviceable NBA career filling a variety of roles for a team off the bench. The Pistons need more smart, tough players on their roster and the handful of times I watched Liggins this season, those were the things that stuck out to me.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

The numbers game I touched on above is the main thing working against Liggins. It’s going to be hard for anyone the Pistons take with that pick to make the roster, let alone a perimeter guy. The Pistons might be better served using that pick on a project foreign player who wants to stay overseas for a season or two.

What are others saying?

From Hoops World:

If you are looking for offensive productivity, DeAndre Liggins isn’t the guy for you.  However, if you are looking a tough-as-nails defender with the ability to lock-down players at the point guard, shooting guard and small forward positions, the junior out of Kentucky is a perfect fit.

From ESPN:

Liggins may not look like much on the offensive end. As a junior he averaged just 8.6 ppg. But he’s an exceptional defender who can guard multiple positions, so some team might want him in the second round. Most likely he goes undrafted if he stays in the draft.

From USA Today:

Liggins, a 6-foot-6 junior guard from Chicago, served as the Wildcats’ defensive stopper this season, consistently drawing the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s top offensive threat.

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Jon Leuer

Although this year’s draft lacks star power, it has an abundance of guys who were really good college players who have the ability to become really solid role players at the NBA level. Wisconsin’s Jon Leuer isn’t going to be a go-to scorer like he was in college, but he does enough things to be an OK rotation big man at some point in his career.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 228 pounds, senior PF from Wisconsin

Key stats: 18.3 points, 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 37 percent from three

Projected: Second round

How would he help the Pistons?

Playing in Bo Ryan’s system, Leuer is well-schooled in half-court basketball. Like most Wisconsin big men, he scored with his back to the basket and could also shoot the ball from distance.

The best thing about Leuer’s college career was that he showed drastic improvement. His scoring and rebounding numbers went up each season and his role in the offense increased because he continually added new post moves to compliment his ability to shoot. Leuer will play a bit like a stretch four in the NBA, but he’s not that athletic, so he wouldn’t have the same diversity to his offense that Charlie Villanueva does. Leuer, at his best, would be more like a poor man’s Channing Frye or Ryan Anderson. It doesn’t necessarily fill a need for the Pistons, but players who bring the skills that those guys have always find a spot on a NBA bench.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

Villanueva’s presence makes it unlikely the Pistons would take another perimeter-oriented big man. Leuer does have some post-up ability, which the Pistons need, but his lack of bulk makes it a question mark as to whether that part of his game will translate to the NBA. Much like fellow senior bigs JaJuan Johnson and Keith Benson, Leuer is looked at as an upperclassmen player whose body might not fill out much more while younger bigs in the draft might be still growing.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

Its unlikely Leuer will be a frequent post scorer in the NBA, as he lacks the lower body strength to consistently establish position. He’s not all that explosive and may struggle to get his shot over longer defenders, and doesn’t have a wide array of counter, all of which could leave him limited to fade-aways and tougher post shots in the NBA. However, he has enough in the way of post moves to take advantage when he does get a favorable matchup.

From ESPN:

There are a number of NBA teams who need stretch 4s in their offensive schemes, and as far as big-men shooters go, Leuer is one of the best in the draft. Despite playing in the Big Ten, Wisconsin always goes a bit under-scouted. Leuer and teammate Jordan Taylor are probably a bit underrated right now.

From NBADraft.net:

He possesses excellent footwork in the post, using an array of post moves that make him unpredictable with his back to the basket … He shows nice touch in the post, and looks comfortable turning and shooting in any direction … He has range up to 21 feet out, shooting 39% from downtown at the college level … His handle is better than average for a college forward/center, and he uses it to create open looks for himself in the post and on the perimeter … Has shown he’s aware of what’s available around him in terms of passing out of the post … Offensively he’s very efficient, shooting 52% from the floor while only turning it over once a game … Defensively Leuer has a high IQ, where he seems to position himself efficiently, illustrated by his (low) 2.1 fouls per game.

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Kalin Lucas

Sorry loyal readers, I have to do it. I am rational enough to understand that Kalin Lucas is a longshot to get drafted. But with the obvious University of Michigan slant from certain PistonPowered writers, as a loyal MSU alum, I have to sneak Kalin into this series. It’s a holiday weekend. We’ll get back to more serious prospects on Monday, if you’ll be kind enough to indulge me today.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-0, 190 pounds, senior PG from Michigan State

Key stats: 17.0 points, 3.4 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from three

Projected: Late second round to undrafted

How would he help the Pistons?

Lucas has point guard-like skills. At Michigan State, it was a stretch to call him a pass-first point guard. Lucas’s greatest strength in college was undoubtedly his ability to create scoring opportunities for himself. Because he’s not big or an explosive athlete, that will have to chance in the NBA if he makes it, either as a second round pick or a rookie free agent.

The positive though? I think he can change. The one thing he didn’t get enough credit for at Michigan State was his ability to take care of the ball. He had a low assist total, so his assist-to-turnover ratio never looked great, but his actual turnover percentage — ranging from 16 percent to 19 percent during his four seasons at MSU — wasn’t bad. He has a quick enough first step to draw extra defenders. The key for him if he’s to have pro success is learning to give the ball up when he creates those advantages off the dribble rather than trying to get all the way to the basket, since he’ll probably struggle to finish in the NBA.

His 3-point shot will help as well. His jumper improved throughout his college career, and because teams will have to step out and guard him, that should give him the opportunity to create some off the dribble. Lucas was a very good player at Michigan State who maybe didn’t improve as much as many thought he would when he was named Big Ten Player of the Year as a sophomore. But he still does some things very well, he improved, he bounced back nicely from a serious injury and remember, last season no one thought Manny Harris could play in the NBA either and he had an OK rookie season for a guy who wasn’t drafted.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

The Pistons have a crowded backcourt already. They certainly don’t have an answer at the point guard position, but it’s unlikely they’ll find anyone in the second round or among rookie free agents who will be better than what they already have on the roster. Lucas has some things to learn about the position in order to carve out a NBA niche for himself. The Pistons are in need of impact players, not more role players, so even if Lucas had some believers among Pistons front office people, it’s unlikely that would be enough to earn a roster spot.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

As a creator off the dribble, Lucas may be somewhat limited at the NBA level due to his lack of elite explosiveness. While he does have a good top speed with the ball in his hands, he doesn’t possess a lightning-quick first step. He does however display a sense of craftiness and an understanding of how to use change of pace dribbles. He’s also comfortable as the ball-handler in pick-and roll situations, often making the correct reads, whether it’s a drive to the basket, a jumpshot for himself, or a pass to a teammate. When attacking the basket, Lucas does a good job of initiating contact and drawing fouls, but his lack of size and elevation often prevents him from finishing at the rim.

From ESPN:

Can a relatively slow and small point guard make it in the NBA? And if so, how? That’s the question I have about Lucas, and the answer is in his favor.

Small point guards who do not excel athletically (unlike Brandon Jennings and Jonny Flynn, who are jets) must be great shooters if they hope to get drafted into the NBA and then stick around awhile. And I love what I see in Lucas’ shooting form. He has a slight right leg forward drift that can be problematic, though it’s not hard to fix that. But it’s an excellent and repeatable compact stroke, and he looks about the same on catch-and-shoots or off-the-dribble jumpers. He already looks like an NBA-level shooter.

From NBADraft.net:

Extremely secure ball handler and decision maker … Displays good court vision and knowledge of teammates positioning on the floor … Averaged 4.6 assists against only 2.2 turnovers last season for a 2.1 ratio … Prefers to attack the paint, using his strength, change of pace dribble and change of direction to get by defenders … Does his best work in transition where he is an absolute jet … Charges into the paint like a running back, yet still with controlled aggression … Does not get knocked off balance on drives, nor lose control of the rock. Gets to the FT line frequently

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Enes Kanter

It’s strange that a college player who never actually played a game for his college team is considered one of the can’t-miss prospects in this draft, but such is the plight of Enes Kanter. Ruled permanently ineligible by the NCAA after he received impermissible benefits after playing for a professional team in Turkey, Kanter was solely a practice player for Kentucky this season.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, freshman C from Kentucky

Key stats: N/A

Projected: Top 10

How would he help the Pistons?

Kanter’s biggest attribute is that he’s, well, big. At 6-10/250, he has great size already for a young big and is ahead of older players in the draft who need to do some filling out if they’re going to handle the punishment of playing in the paint in the NBA.

He also has a fairly advanced post game for a young player. He’s good at establishing position, comfortable playing with his back to the basket and he also possesses a bit of a mean streak, something the Pistons sorely lacked last season. It doesn’t stop with his physical game though. As you can see by his Nike Hoops Summit highlights, Kanter can hit the 15-footer and has enough finesse to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket as well.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

The major question with Kanter is simply experience. Outside of a few highlights and very brief minutes with a team in Turkey over a year ago, no one has seen much of Kanter. Practicing all season with Kentucky certainly helped, but he might need some extra time to adjust to the NBA game because he hasn’t consistently played high-level organized basketball for a while.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

On top of his excellent skill level, Kanter impressed with his intangibles as well. He’s the type of quiet, competitive player that simply goes about his business without getting frustrated at officials or letting a few bad possessions throw off his game. The fact that he didn’t start the Hoop Summit game didn’t seem to faze him, as he could be seen enthusiastically supporting his team from the bench.

From ESPN:

The NCAA denied Kanter’s bid to play for Kentucky this season, placing him in limbo all year. He’s been hanging around Kentucky, working as a student-assistant coach, but the loss of playing time hurts. He’ll spend the spring working with Michael Jordan’s former trainer, Tim Grover, in Chicago in preparation for the draft. Most GMs still have him as a top-five or top-six pick. Great workouts could lift him even higher.

From Yahoo!:

“Where he ultimately lands depends on what underclassmen come out,” one NBA scout told Yahoo! Sports. “But he’s definitely top seven at worst. He’s just so skilled offensively. He has a decent midrange game and can definitely finish in the paint. He has good footwork, runs the floor well and is very agile for his size.

“From what the international scouts say, he’s the top big man coming out. He’s like a taller Al Horford. He can pick and pop, and score inside. He can pretty much fit into any system for any team that needs a center doesn’t matter if they’re a half-court or running team.”

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Kyle Singler

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like Kyle Singler’s college career flew by. Dukies have a habit of seeming like they’re in college for about nine years (Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, for example), but Singler’s four-year career went by really quick. He was obviously a very good college basketball player. Will that game translate to the NBA, though?

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 230 pounds, senior F from Duke

Key stats: 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 32 percent from three

Projected: Second round

How would he help the Pistons?

I’m not convinced that he would. But I’m also a proponent of teams taking the best available player regardless of position in the second round. Second round picks are usually longshots to make a roster. A large percentage of guys never amount to much in the NBA. So even if the Pistons are fairly solid at the forward spot, a player like Singler may very well be the guy who has the best shot to make a roster when the Pistons pick.

These are the things he has going for him: he’s a decent 3-point shooter, he rebounds well for a guy who operates on the perimeter a lot, he’s a good passer for his size and he’s won a lot of games while being asked to play different roles during his Duke career. If the Pistons lose Tayshaun Prince and Tracy McGrady to free agency and with the assumption that Jonas Jerebko is going to be counted on to play at least some of his minutes at the four, the Pistons actually could be in a position to add depth. Singler, as a guy who can shoot but is also big and strong enough to give some minutes at the four, might not be a bad pickup if he’s available and all of the promising bigs in the draft are off the board.

He’d also be the best trick shot artist on the team since Rasheed Wallace:

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

Singler won’t score inside. He can hit a midrange jumper, but a high percentage of his points in college come from 15 feet and out. He also didn’t shoot the ball well his senior season after being near 40 percent from three during his first three seasons. The Pistons also have a forward on the roster who is a bit too perimeter happy in Charlie Villanueva.

As much criticism as Villanueva has taken from fans, there’s a big difference between him and Singler: Villanueva is much more athletic. While Villanueva can surely slide over to the three and at least be OK athletically at the position, Singler still has to prove he can do that at the NBA level.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

The fact that Singler has been a role-player essentially throughout his college career, doing so on a competitive and winning team throughout, will play in his favor, though. He is not the type of player who will need to make a huge transition in his style of play to make an impact. Furthermore, he’s ready to contribute immediately, as he’s a mature player both physically and mentally, who has been coached by one of the most respected men in basketball over the past four years. These things, along with his strong intangibles, could all look very attractive to a good team drafting in the second half of the first round looking for a solid piece to add to their rotation.

From ESPN:

NBA execs look for similarities for help in projections, so anything Singler can do to separate himself from (Gordon) Hayward would be great, and that starts with his perimeter shot. Hayward was good his first season and bad as a sophomore, and Singler is working on an “average, good, good, average” run over his four years. Of course, this season could end up as an excellent one from deep, starting with his 5-for-9 performance against Oregon. Combine a sharpshooter with the fighter/hustler Singler has proved to be in the past against a team like Michigan State? That’s a guy every team will covet.

NBADraft.net:

Singler needs little room to get off a shot with his high release point in a 6’9 body … When he’s not spotting up, he shows offensive versatility in that he can hit a number of different types of shots in different ways … Reliable mid-range game with ability to shoot off dribble, although prefers to catch and shoot… High basketball IQ, high awareness of what’s going on around him which helps him defensively off the ball, as well as with the ball in his hands in regards to finding teammates cutting to the hoop… Sees court well for 6’9 forward … Fiery and competitive kid who just has a great overall feel for the game.

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Demetri McCamey

Alright, I’ve been looking at enough lottery prospects over the last week. Gotta catch up on some second round guys. I think the consensus is the Pistons need help in the frontcourt, but if a good point guard were available, fans would be happy with that pick as well, as long as all of the intriguing second round bigs were off the board. Demetri McCamey is one of the more interesting prospects who could go early in the second round.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, senior PG from Illinois

Key stats: 14.6 points, 6.1 assists, 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 45 percent from three

Projected: Second round

How would he help the Pistons?

There are three things to really like about McCamey: he’s big for a PG at 6-3, he’s made himself into a great perimeter shooter (hitting 45 percent of his threes this season) and he takes good care of the ball.

The jumpshot is particularly impressive, considering this is what ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote about him last year:

He’s not a great athlete, nor does he have a consistent jump shot yet.

To go from that description to shooting 45 percent from three in a year shows that McCamey put a tremendous amount of work in. The second round features a lot of players with fairly equal numbers of flaws and limited upside. The key is picking players who have a good chance to work their way into being good role players. Depending on what happens with Rodney Stuckey as a restricted free agent, McCamey might prove to be good insurance should the Pistons be down a point guard heading into next season.

He’s also able to play both guard spots, so if Stuckey returns, McCamey wouldn’t necessarily be buried on the bench.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

McCamey isn’t going to be a player who can attack the basket from the PG spot the way Stuckey or even Will Bynum can. Although his numbers from the season were solid, the Illinois offense struggled at times because of McCamey’s inability to get in the lane and create shots consistently. McCamey also didn’t have the best defensive technique. He’s strong enough to be decent at that end of the floor, but he’ll need to work on using his body to his advantage because he’ll get torched by some of the league’s quicker guards.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

Outside the 3-point arc, McCamey demonstrated that he’s a top notch shooter at the point guard position, connecting on an excellent 45% of his 3-pointers this season. He’s comfortable shooting off the dribble or off the catch, and he has range well past the NBA 3-point line. This bodes well for him going forward, and should help to open up the floor for dribble penetration for himself and his teammates, especially if he needs to spend time playing off the ball, which is certainly a possibility at his size.

From ESPN:

McCamey was another player who, after three years at Illinois, looked like a known quantity. He was a big, physical guard with deep range on his jump shot. Illinois never really asked him to run the show until this season. Now, he’s making the most of it.

Hail to the Orange:

Throughout the years, I’ve seen him add many moves to his arsenal, and he’s been a better player as a result. One thing that was really working last year, but not so much this year, is the pull-up and shoot three, on a fast-break. It only makes sense for him to develop this shot as his momentum is so strong on fast-breaks that with defenders back-away so quickly, him pulling up and shooting gives him a wide open look. He hit it pretty regularly last year, but I haven’t seen it go down as often this season. Another move that came up huge in big games last season is the end-of shotclock isolation play: 2 cross-overs, step back, and nail the fade-away three. That almost single-handedly beat Wisconsin at the Kohl Center last year and began talks of the NBA draft.

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Bismack Biyombo

A relatively unknown international big man has captured the hearts and minds of Pistons fans. For the last two weeks, I’ve been bombarded with comments and Tweets from people who want to see me feature Bismack Biyombo in Draft Dreams. The guy has a lot of buzz right now because he showed out at the Nike Hoops Summit, and Pistons fans were clearly paying attention. Draft Dreams is for the people, so I’ll stop denying the people what they want. Here’s your Biyombo profile.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-9, 240 pounds, F/C from Congo

Key stats: 6.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 55 percent from the field in the Spanish League

Projected: Lottery

How would he help the Pistons?

Biyombo’s combination of age (he’ll be only 19 when drafted), size (6-foot-9/240 and still growing) and physical attributes (7-foot-7 wingspan) make him perhaps the most intriguing prospect in this draft. He played all over Europe and the Middle East trying to make a name for himself, eventually earning an invite to the famed Nike Hoops Summit. He became the biggest star of the tournament, registerting a the first triple double in tournament history with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

Biyombo has a NBA build already at his young age. He’s possibly the most natural shot blocker in the draft, something the Pistons are clearly deficient in. And pairing Greg Monroe next to a young, talented, defensive-minded center would give the Pistons arguably the most promising young frontcourt in the league.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

Biyombo is certainly a bit of a risk. Before the Nike Hoops Summit, many scouts barely knew who he was, if they even knew him at all (NBADraft.net doesn’t even have him in their database as of my writing this). He has less than two years of professional basketball experience overseas. He also is under contract with his team in Spain, so even though he wants to play in the NBA, there’s no guarantee that he’ll join the team that drafts him for next season. Here’s what he told DraftExpress:

“The lockout is not worrying me,” Biyombo told us. “If there is a lockout, I can continue to play in Spain. I want to make a mark before I leave Spain. When I decided to enter the draft I spoke to my agent Igor [Crespo], and I said, ‘Igor, before I leave Spain, I want to put my name on the basketball court. So when I leave Spain my name will be remembered the right way.’ About the NBA, I still have time to be on the floor, still have time to work, still have time to make myself better.”

I respect the maturity, but he also sounds like a player who is in no rush to leave Spain before he’s comfortable. Maybe he’s talented enough to be worth waiting for if he decides to stay in Europe, but the Pistons also need immediate help through the draft if they are going to improve next season.

What are others saying?

From Fox Sports:

He certainly has a long way to go offensively, but Biyombo’s freakish athleticism and NBA body immediately catch your eye. He’s only been playing organized basketball for five or six years, but he seems to have a feel for the game and is certainly a presence on the block.

From ESPN:

Over the course of the last month or so he’s become one of the hottest names in the NBA draft, but only a handful of scouts and GMs had a good handle on who he was. Seeing him playing against future NBA lottery picks certainly helped.And they weren’t disappointed. Biyombo wowed all week with his toughness, athleticism, shot-blocking abilities, leadership and motor. He was a defensive powerhouse with a Ben Wallace-esque body and a crazy 7-foot-7 wingspan.

From SB Nation:

Biyombo, like most of the game’s participants, is listed at 18 years old, but he’s played professionally in Spain for two seasons, has a massive, sculpted NBA-ready body right now and looked like a man among boys all week, drawing speculation from scouts, fans and media alike about whether he is older than he lets on. Biyombo brushed off the age question in an interview with SI.com.

“I don’t care how old he is, Biyombo can play NBA-caliber defense right now,” one NBA talent evaluator said on Sunday.

That was the general consensus. Biyombo is ready now, his stock solidified as a 2011 first round pick, with the immediate buzz in the building included the NBA’s L-word: Lottery.

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Nolan Smith

Everyone knows and wants Kyrie Irving, but his backcourt mate at Duke, Nolan Smith, also looks like he’ll become a pretty good NBA player. You have to like this co-sign from NBA star Kevin Durant:

Good to see my brother @NdotSmitty and his family…we go all the way back to 10 years old!

Anyone who is cool with Durant is cool with me.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, senior guard from Duke

Key stats: 20.6 points, 5.1 assists, 1.2 steals per game while shooting 46 percent from the field and 35 percent from three

Projected: First round

How would he help the Pistons?

The thing I love most about Smith’s game is that he would bring the perimeter toughness back to the Pistons defense that has sorely been lacking. He’s not the shooter Irving is and he’s not as explosive, but Smith has improved each year at Duke, and the mentality he plays with reminds me a lot of fellow Dukie Shane Battier. Smith is an intelligent defender, he’s a solid shooter who will be able to occasionally create his own shot and he’s really strong. He might be more backup than starter because I’m not entirely sure what position he’s better suited for as a pro, but he will be able to play minutes at both spots and Joe Dumars has never been scared of taking a combo guard, particularly one as good defensively as Smith could be.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

The Pistons are likely going to think big in the draft considering their logjam of guards isn’t going to clear up soon. Smith would be an intriguing prospect in the unlikely event he dips to the early second round, but with last year’s second round pick, Terrico White, and intriguing prospect in his own right, it’s doubtful the Pistons would pick up another young guard who would have to fight for only a few minutes a game, if that.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

Despite not having a tremendous first step, Smith does a good job of getting into the lane at the collegiate level. He has the ability to go either left or right in isolation sets, and does a good job of using hesitation and a change of direction to create space, showing great craftiness with the ball. Smith’s likely an average athlete by NBA standards, limitations that show up a bit when finishing at the rim. He compensates by using his off hand well to shield defenders and showing good body control, with the ability to hit runners and floaters with some regularity. He has also done a better job of drawing contact and getting to the line than in years past, generally becoming a more effective scorer inside the arc this season.

From ESPN:

Smith is a combo guard with solid athleticism and a knack for scoring. But for the last year and a half, the senior has gone a long way in shoring up his credentials as a legitimate point guard. He sees the floor better and better as the years have progressed and has shown he can have a big game even when his shot isn’t dropping (see Sunday’s outing against Maryland, when he had eight assists and seven boards). The biggest term I’ve heard scouts use to describe him is “steady” and that’s a major compliment in their book.

From NBA Draft.net:

At 6’3, he has nice size and length for a point guard, and has enough overall awareness and skill to play off the ball as well … With the ball in his hands, Smith’s high basketball IQ and excellent ball security allow him to efficiently run an offense … He shows nice touch in the lane when attacking the rim, with a good feel for when to float it/take it strong and when to dish it out to the open man … He’s a capable outside shooter, but generally shoots his best when someone creates open opportunities for him … Smith’s awareness allows him to read defenses and make the right pass in a timely fashion, and despite not being a pure point guard, he’s trusted at the position with his excellent decision making and offensive efficiency … Defensively his best attributes revolve around his length, IQ and effort.

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Previously

Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Kyrie Irving

OK … we might as well get this out of the way. The guy who is the likely top pick in the draft just officially tossed his name in. The Pistons need a lot of luck to win the lottery, but after looking at Austin Daye’s puppy all day yesterday, I suddenly feel very good about the Pistons and their future prospects. So let’s pretend the Pistons get the best possible outcome in this draft.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, freshman point guard from Duke

Key stats: 17.5 points, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals per game while shooting 53 percent from the field and 46 percent from three

Projected: Top two

How would he help the Pistons?

Irving, quite simply, changes everything. The Pistons don’t have to worry about whether or not Rodney Stuckey is a point guard anymore. They also don’t have to worry about overpaying to keep him.

Irving has the quickness to create his own shot through penetration, he sees the floor well enough to kick out to the Pistons shooters should his driving lanes get cut off and he’s athletic enough to go up and finish strong against bigger players. The reason he has driving lanes is because he’s a phenomenal shooter. Granted, he didn’t play a full season due to injury, but Irving shot 46 percent from 3-point range this season. Imagine an offensive threat like Irving, keeping the defense off balance, not knowing whether he’s going to drive or pull up, on the court with someone as adept at moving without the ball in the paint as Greg Monroe? Monroe has already been the recipient of many easy baskets this season playing without a natural facilitator on the roster. Imagine a lineup with Monroe and a healthy Jonas Jerebko using their energy and movement to always keep their defenders on the run, shooters like Daye and Ben Gordon on the perimeter and a playmaker like Irving orchestrating it all?

Despite the negativity of this season, the Pistons have several intriguing complimentary players. All that is missing is a guy with Irving’s talent and upside to make Detroit one of the most exciting teams in the league.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

There are certainly legit questions with Irving. He’s not quite the athlete Derrick Rose or John Wall were as freshman phenom PGs. That doesn’t mean Irving isn’t insanely talented, but his style is different than those two. Because they are all freshman PGs who will all (likely) be No. 1 picks, the comparisons are inevitable. Irving might need more time to learn the nuances of the game simply because he doesn’t have the raw, freakish athletic ability the other two possess that allowed them to atone some mistakes early in their careers.

Irving also had a serious injury this season. He battled back and looked good during the tournament with no lingering effects, but he will be heading into the NBA with less game experience than most freshmen who make the leap.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

Not as blazingly fast with his first step as Derrick Rose, John Wall, or even Kemba Walker, Irving plays at a very unique pace that keeps defenses consistently off-balance and allows him to get to the basket seemingly whenever he needs to. Able to drive left or right almost equally well, he has excellent timing on his drives, very good body control, and the ability to operate at different speeds. Rather than just attempting to blow by opponents using his pure first step, Irving instead likes to toy with his defender, using tricky stutter-steps, strong body fakes, and perfectly timed hesitation moves to beat opponents smoothly and slitherly.

From ESPN:

Irving may have only played 11 games this season, but he enters the draft as the odds on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Irving is one of the most complete prospects in the draft. He has speed, quickness and range on his jumper. He’s excellent penetrating to the basket, sees the floor well and is a leader on the court. He’s not particularly elite in any one category, but the overall package is pretty impressive.

From NBA Draft.net:

A “true” PG with a great feel for the game … Charismatic player with the imagination and mindset to become a standout PG at the NBA level , “has a chance to be special”… A facilitator who shows the ability to make those around him better … Great vision and passing skills … Great burst. Has the blow by speed to get past defenders off the dribble … Good decision maker. Looks to make the right play instead of always trying to dazzle … Doesn’t force shots or overdribble (improved this in his limited time at Duke) … Excellent shooter with the ability to get shots within the flow of the offense.

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Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: John Henson

Although Harrison Barnes is the biggest name of North Carolina’s potential lottery picks, John Henson might be the best fit for the Pistons. Both players are expected to announce their decisions on whether to stay at UNC or enter the draft soon.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 210 pounds, sophomore forward from North Carolina

Key stats: 11.7 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.2 blocks per game while shooting 50 percent from the field

Projected: Lottery

How would he help the Pistons?

I’m intrigued by shot blockers more than anything in this draft simply because if Greg Monroe is the long-term solution at one starting frontcourt slot, as he seems to be, then the Pistons really need to find someone who can protect the rim at the other spot if they’re ever going to return to their roots as a stingy defensive unit. Henson, who finished 17th in the country in blocked shot percentage, averaged 3.2 blocks per game this season. He’s fast and athletic, he runs the floor and he protects the rim. Despite a slender build, Henson also averaged 10 rebounds per game this season. If he can develop into a Tyson Chandler-type player — a guy who blocks shots, rebounds, bothers people with his length and picks up four or five buckets per game getting offensive rebounds or finishing dump-off passes, he’ll basically be the perfect compliment to Monroe up front. If he adds weight, he might actually have more upside than a player like Chandler because Henson has the ability to put the ball on the floor a little bit and create.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

That slender frame is a concern. Granted, Henson is just a sophomore, but 210 pounds is just too light to get away with playing big minutes in a NBA frontcourt. Henson started off his UNC career as a small forward before moving to the frontcourt midway through last season. His shot-blocking should at least get him minutes in a rotation, but depending on how he reacts to bigger, more physical players it might take some time for him to become a reliable, big minutes option.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

Henson handles the ball very well for a player his size and has the potential to be a matchup nightmare for opposing power forwards on the perimeter, where he can utilize his quick first step and long strides to beat his man to the basket. He showed flashed of this last season, but he was too easily bumped off his path because he was so thin and weak.

From ESPN:

It’s hard not to love what he can do on the defensive end. The question for so many NBA scouts is, where is he going to get his offense from? He doesn’t have a great perimeter game yet and shies away from contact inside. Henson could’ve had a number of big dunks against Michigan but instead fell away from the basket with a defender coming at him. That problem will be amplified in the NBA against bigger and stronger competitors. As talented as he is, most NBA teams think he should spend at least one more year in college to work on his body or his perimeter game.

From NBA Draft.net:

Has a lot of work to do on his body … His slight frame and narrow shoulders might make it difficult for him to put on any substantial bulk … Since he is so light, opposing big men have little trouble moving him out of position on the blocks, forcing him to shoot further out than he would like … Even though he is capable of playing both 3 and 4 positions, he is still a tweener on the offensive end because he is not a consistent threat at either spot … As a scorer he depends heavily on his ability to get garbage points as he has not yet developed a go to aspect to his game … His jumpshot is decent, but if he wants to become a more dangerous wingplayer, he needs to gain more consistency and extend his range.

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