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Category → Draft Dreams 2012

2012 PistonPowered Mock Draft

Patrick Hayes is not an accredited NBA Draft expert, nor does he have an advanced degree in scouting. He’s simply an enthusiastic young man with a sixth grade education and an abiding love for all NBA Draft prospects … join him for his second annual mock draft.

As always, I’m making draft predictions without the benefit of seeing any workouts, interviewing a single prospect (technically, I interviewed Draymond Green once when he was in high school though, does that count?) or having access to the wealth of scouting information that teams use to make selections. These are just my best attempts to match up team needs with players I think fit based on watching way too much college basketball last season. Second round picks are after the page break.

Here are the latest mock drafts by Chad Ford, DraftExpress, NBADraft.netVincent Goodwill of The Detroit News, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press and Tom Ziller of SB Nation. Coverage of the draft starts at 7 p.m. tonight on ESPN. So, no more setup needed. Let’s dig in.

1. New Orleans Hornets – Anthony Davis

As funny as it would be to see the Hornets take someone else considering all the hype Davis has had — and boy, if that happened wouldn’t SLAM Magazine’s cheeks be red? — there will be no surprises here. Davis is going to New Orleans to be the franchise’s and city’s latest sports savior.

2. Charlotte Bobcats – Thomas Robinson

I’m sure Michael Jordan will be intrigued by wings here. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is arguably the most competitive guy in this draft and Harrison Barnes is the forever-hyped star from Jordan’s college. But, if Rich Cho holds onto this pick, pairing the tough, solid Robinson up front with Bismack Biyombo is too good to pass up.

3. Washington Wizards - Bradley Beal

Personally, I like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist better. He’s tough, will be a phenomenal defensive player and he’d be a good fit at either the shooting guard or small forward spot in Washington. But the Wizards, like many teams, don’t have many elite perimeter shooters and that’s where Beal fits. He’ll clear driving lanes for John Wall, and that’s really important.

4. Cleveland Cavaliers - Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

The Cavs will settle for Kidd-Gilchrist, and that’s a fine consolation prize. They supposedly like Beal if he lasts this long and would also consider Harrison Barnes. With Kyrie Irving and his near 40 percent 3-point shooting, adding a shooter is less a necessity for them than it is for Washington and MKG will infuse toughness and defense on their perimeter. Cleveland has been really weak on the wings since LeBron James left and MKG is another nice addition to a roster that is slowly looking pretty solid again.

5. Sacramento Kings – John Henson

OK, hear me out on this one. Ford says the Kings have been high on Henson all year. Jason Thompson is hitting restricted free agency. The best perimeter player on the board, Harrison Barnes, would be another volume scorer on a team full of volume scorers. As last year’s Jimmer Fredette in the lottery pick showed, the Kings aren’t afraid to reach for a player they like, so if they don’t trade this pick (which seems like a possibility), it wouldn’t be a total shock if they reached to take Henson here.

6. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard

I’m a little scared of so-called consensus after last year. Brandon Knight was a ‘consensus’ pick to go to Utah at No. 3 for weeks and, even though I thought that seemed a tad high for Knight, I bought in because every respected draft outlet had him as a virtual lock there. The same thing is happening for Lillard. Like Knight, Lillard has moved up draft boards because of an overall weak crop of point guards, and reports indicate Portland wants Lillard and worry he might not be there when they pick 11th. I will reluctantly go with the experts and say Lillard comes off the board here.

7. Golden State Warriors – Dion Waiters

From Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News:

Jerry West, Warriors board member and consultant, has been drilling this word into the psyche of his front-office cohorts: Assets. Assets. Assets.

“We can’t afford to let assets pass us by and address need,” said Warriors general manager Bob Myers, explaining West’s philosophy.

According to Ford, West really likes Waiters. Golden State better listen to Jerry West.

8. Toronto Raptors - Andre Drummond

So close. For weeks, the almighty consensus has had the Raptors looking solely at players like Lillard, Barnes, Waiters and other wings. I don’t buy it. Sure, they are bringing last year’s lottery pick, Jonas Valanciunas, over this season. But does that mean their frontcourt is suddenly elite? Why not take Drummond and have your young twin towers combo? I hope it doesn’t happen for Detroit’s sake, but I really don’t understand why the assumption is Toronto is not interested in a big.

9. Detroit Pistons – Harrison Barnes

He doesn’t fill their most pressing need (especially now that Corey Maggette is on the roster) and he, like Knight, would cause another round of ‘RABBLE RABBLE RABBLEs’ from the advanced stats crowd, who are far from sold on him. But I think Barnes is the big name most likely to fall in this draft and I feel pretty comfortable saying that if Barnes falls and Drummond is off the board as well, Dumars would take Barnes in a heartbeat. It wouldn’t be the most popular pick, but one good thing would likely come out of it — a reduced role for Tayshaun Prince.

10. New Orleans Hornets - Kendall Marshall

This might be a slight reach for Marshall, but I think he’s underrated, he’s a pure pass-first point guard and his skillset would look awfully nice in a young lineup that will boast Davis and Eric Gordon next season.

 

11. Portland Trail Blazers - Meyers Leonard

I debated between Leonard and Tyler Zeller here. Leonard has more upside, Zeller would probably help Portland more right now. But with LaMarcus Aldridge already established as an All-Star up front, they can afford to gamble on a more high risk/high reward player like Leonard and hope he develops into the bruising rebounder he’s capable of being. They had similar luck with a raw former Big Ten center in Joel Przybilla, whose career didn’t really get on track until he got to Portland in his fourth year. Maybe they can have similar success with Leonard.

12. Houston Rockets - Jared Sullinger

You think Daryl Morey is scared of a cryptic medical report when a player who was once considered a possible No. 1 pick if he came out last year is available at the back of the lottery? I don’t buy the Sullinger free fall storyline. He’s a good risk at this point in the draft and Morey is the type of GM who will understand that. If Houston is picking here, I’d bet on Sullinger if he lasts this long.

13. Phoenix Suns - Austin Rivers

The Suns could possibly lose Steve Nash in free agency, and with him, any interest that people outside of Phoenix have in the team. Rivers, at the very least, is a big name that will attract attention all season as people watch to see if the hyped prep star who underperformed at Duke can turn into the NBA star many projected he would be when he was a junior in high school.

14. Milwaukee Bucks - Jeremy Lamb

I had the Bucks pegged for taking a big man until they acquired Samuel Dalembert in a trade with Houston yesterday. They could still use some depth up front, but with Dalembert, Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders, they’re OK there. Lamb, on the other hand, adds some size and defensive potential to their diminutive backcourt. Plus, versatile wing Carlos Delfino is a free agent, so Lamb offers some insurance if he leaves.

15. Philadelphia 76ers - Tyler Zeller

Philly will be ecstatic to get a late lottery-level big man here. Spencer Hawes is a free agent, Elton Brand is old and Zeller will be an immediate contributor either as a starter or reserve. He runs the floor well, finishes well and has good hands, so he’ll be a nice target for solid passers Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner.

16. Houston Rockets - Royce White

Between his John Lennon beard and calling me out on Twitter for getting his weight wrong, I might consider taking him in the top five if I had my way. But, as I said above with Sullinger, White’s upside is so great that he’d immediately become a nice young asset for Daryl Morey, who wouldn’t be scared off by White’s scary alleged red flags.

17. Dallas Mavericks – Arnett Moultrie

Moultrie was an underachiever in college who has impressed teams in workouts and has even been discussed as a longshot to sneak into the lottery after being projected in the 20s in most early mock drafts. He’s athletic, runs well, finishes well and could perhaps be a find for a Mavs team still figuring out how to adequately replace Tyson Chandler.

18. Houston Rockets - Perry Jones III

Well, let’s just give Houston the ultimate boom/bust draft. With three picks in the teens, they’d come out of this with three players who are incredibly intriguing. No one would be entirely shocked if Sullinger, Jones or White ends up being considered among the best picks in this draft someday. Also, no one would be entirely shocked if any of those guys were considered among the worst picks.

19. Orlando Magic – Moe Harkless

With a new GM taking over in Orlando, it’s hard to tell what direction the Magic will go in. Under Otis Smith and Stan Van Gundy, a tall shooter like Andrew Nicholson would be a possible fit here, but if the Magic decide to trade Dwight Howard, their collection of guys who can stand on the perimeter and knock down shots out of double-teams will not be so necessary. Harkless would help them get much more athletic at a wing position, plus he should be a very solid defensive player even if his offense takes some time to develop.

20. Denver Nuggets – Terrence Ross

The Nuggets add another big perimeter player to throw at the many dynamic wing players in the West, plus get a player in Ross who can knock down the three, a big part of Denver’s offense. Many predict Ross as one of the draft’s sleepers. Chad Ford even had him sneaking into the lottery at one point.

21. Boston Celtics – Terrence Jones

What Boston does with these picks depends a lot on what they decide to do with their roster. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett are both free agents. If both of those guys go elsewhere, it’s likely to hasten a rebuilding project. But if one or both, particularly Garnett, returns, Boston will be loading up for one more run and probably looking for college players who can step in and fill a role immediately. Jones is a versatile combo forward who would do a bit of everything for Boston.

22. Boston Celtics – Draymond Green

Building on that point above, Green would be able to give minutes at two positions, hit perimeter shots and rebound. Plus, adding him as a high post passer would take some pressure off of Rajon Rondo to be the team’s only player who consistently looks to create shots for others. Also, I might cry tonight when Green gets drafted. #PerfectSpartan

23. Atlanta Hawks – Andrew Nicholson

The Hawks rely so heavily on Al Horford and Josh Smith up front, Nicholson would give them not only a young big man who could give competent minutes at either PF or C, he’d also add a dimension to their offense as a stretch four. He’s a solid outside shooter who could create more space for Jeff Teague and Joe Johnson when they feel like driving inside.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jeff Taylor

Green is destined to go here if he’s still on the board, but assuming he’s gone, Cleveland will continue to improve the talent on its wing. Like their earlier pick, Kidd-Gilchrist, Taylor projects as a reliable defensive player. Taylor also had a fantastic season shooting the ball last season. Oh, and for the record, I really don’t want Dan Gilbert to get Draymond Green. Gilbert is #NotAPerfectSpartan.

25. Memphis Grizzlies – Will Barton

O.J. Mayo is a free agent and the Grizzlies are perennially flirting with maybe possibly trading Rudy Gay. If both guys are back, Barton, a local college star at Memphis, gets to back them up and develop. If one or the other isn’t back, he can step in and play a little bigger role immediately.

26. Indiana Pacers – Fab Melo

With Roy Hibbert, the Pacers don’t necessarily need more size, but Melo is a shot-blocker, he’s big and he’d give the Pacers another potential rim protector to put in the game when Hibbert is on the bench. With David West and Tyler Hansbrough, Indiana actually has a pretty undersized frontcourt outside of Hibbert and Melo would help beef that up.

27. Miami Heat – Tony Wroten Jr.

Mike Miller and James Jones are reportedly considering retirement and Shane Battier is old. The Heat could use some young legs in a reserve role on the perimeter and Wroten is versatile enough to play either guard spot and give minutes at any perimeter position. He won’t replace any of those players as a perimeter shooter, but he has a long wingspan and could help defensively.

28. Oklahoma City Thunder – Evan Fournier

Fournier is an intriguing prospect because of his size and athleticism. He might be a reach if he were taken in the teens where he was originally projected, but he’d be good value here for a team like Oklahoma City that can give him time to develop.

29. Chicago Bulls – Marquis Teague

I fully expect Derrick Rose to come back healthy next season, but the Bulls could benefit from attempting to lighten his workload some. Teague could actually go higher than this as teams always reach for point guards, but if he’s on the board when the Bulls pick, they’d have another athletic PG to eventually give quality minutes and allow Rose to rest more during the regular season.

30. Golden State Warriors – Festus Ezeli

I had them taking Waiters earlier despite the fact that the team owner loves size, so they’ll compromise and take a big man prospect here. Ezeli is raw and will probably need some time before he develops into a meaningful contributor, but by all accounts he’s a hard worker who has already improved a lot during his college career.

(Second round after the jump)

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3-on-3: With the ninth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select …

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. In the days leading up to the draft, we’re going to discuss what the Pistons could/should/might/should not do with each of their three picks.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today as we discuss the 9th pick, that’s Sean Corp from Detroit Bad Boys. Follow him on Twitter.

Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Which player do you think the Pistons are most likely to select at pick nine?

Dan Feldman: John Henson. Henson will likely be on the board, he had a good workout in Detroit, and he immediately upgrades the Pistons’ defense. Even if he’s limited until he adds weight, Henson is too athletic, too hard working and too savvy to ride the bench next season.

Patrick Hayes: I’ve become more amenable to Meyers Leonard with the multiple reports about his strong workouts, size, athleticism and good attitude, but I still think the logical pick is John Henson. Henson has been on the radar too long, and his best skills — shot blocking and defense — are exactly what the Pistons need the most. Henson is far from a fix-all player, but I’m convinced he’d be a solid contributor.

Sean Corp: John Henson. He fits the profile of what the Pistons are looking for — shot blocker, plus defender, can handle the pick and roll. But I’m extremely concerned that Henson is only nine pounds heavier than Tayshaun Prince. I used to be an avid Henson backer but I’m on the fence more and more. Slight frame. Already 21. Shot 51 percent on free throws and only 35 percent on jumpers. His D will really need to shine to make up for those offensive shortcomings

2. Which realistic target at pick nine would make the best pick?

Dan Feldman: Andre Drummond. Drummond is a clear tier above the John Henson/Meyers Leonard/Terrence Jones/Tyler Zeller/Arnett Moultrie group, and Drummond could fill the Pistons’ biggest need. I don’t think he’ll fall to No. 9, but it’s possible – and tantalizing.

Patrick Hayes: Perry Jones III. Exactly one player likely to available at nine has superstar upside — Jones. He’s 6-foot-11, runs the floor like a guard, is one of the best finishers in the draft and he’s young enough to develop an offensive game that consists of more than just jumping really high and dunking on people when he feels like it.

Sean Corp: I’ve started to come around on Meyers Leonard. I am inherently skeptical of any player that rockets up draft boards based on either 1. the NCAA tourney or 2. the combine. With that said, Leonard seems like the real deal to me. He isn’t an awkward, bumbling 7-footer, he has athletic ability to go with his heft (250 pounds). Just looking at his age, his production last year and his measurables and you have to be intrigued. The question becomes which is more likely — Henson adds muscle or Leonard polishes his game. My money is on Leonard.

3. Which realistic target at pick nine would make the worst pick?

Dan Feldman: Austin Rivers. Before the Pitons traded Ben Gordon, I wouldn’t have bothered including a guard among the realistic targets, but I guess it’s possible they take one now. I think that would be a mistake – because I think the best player available at No. 9 will be a big – especially if that guard is Rivers. He doesn’t do anything besides score, and I’m not sure he can score efficiently enough.

Patrick Hayes: Perry Jones III. He does all of the athletic things and has all of the measurables that tantalize scouts and he has all of the so-so stats, questions about his desire to get better and how hard he plays that is a trait of almost every elite athlete who underperforms. Whether or not the Pistons take Jones depends largely on where they think they are as a franchise right now. If they think they are at a point where missing badly on the No. 9 pick wouldn’t be ruinous enough to pass on a player with Jones’ potential, I think it’s likely they’d give him more serious consideration.

Sean Corp: There are A LOT of names to choose from here. It seems like outside the top four there are question marks everywhere. I’m not as skeptical about Andre Drummond as some but I sure am wary of Perry Jones III, Harrison Barnes and Austin Rivers. Particularly Jones. He is like the college football team that starts the season ranked way too high but stays in the top 25 based on reputation and because voters don’t like to admit they are wrong. I’m not sure if PJ3 ends up being an under-performing SF or an under-performing PF but I’m pretty sure he’ll under perform.

3-on-3: With the 44th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select …

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. In the days leading up to the draft, we’re going to discuss what the Pistons could/should/might/should not do with each of their three picks.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today as we discuss the 9th pick, that’s J.M. Poulard, who writes for Warriors World, Forum Blue and Gold and various other TrueHoop Network sites. Follow him on Twitter.

Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Which player do you think the Pistons are most likely to select at pick 44?

Dan Feldman: Kevin Murphy. The Pistons probably want to upgrade their outside shooting, and as predicted by Chad Ford, the Tennessee Tech sharp-shooter might be a nice fit. I could also see Detroit opting for a European player who won’t come to the NBA immediately. Joe Dumars has previously stated a desire not to overrun his team with rookies.

Patrick Hayes: Tornike Shengalia. It’s not that I know all that much about him, but he’s young, possibly could be a player the Pistons stash overseas for a year or so and let develop and with two second round picks and a full roster, it does make some sense for the Pistons to take a project player who they don’t have to worry about using a roster spot on for another season or two.

J.M. Poulard: Hollis Thompson out of Georgetown seems like a good bet to be selected by the Pistons given his ability to stretch the court with his 3-point shooting. Also, is size will make it easy for him to look over defenders running at him to contest his shots. Given that the Pistons averaged only 13.9 attempts from downtown last season, getting someone to camp out there, makes shots and force opponents to defend the 3-point line is a must.

2. Which realistic target at pick 44 would make the best pick?

Dan Feldman: William Buford. I would love for the Pistons to get three big men in this draft. Detroit’s lack of promise up front – beyond Greg Monroe, a third of Jonas Jerebko (who’s two-thirds small forward) and the blind hope that Vernon Macklin’s small sample size is sustainable – is that influential. Quality bigs are difficult to acquire outside the draft, but other teams know this, and that’s why so many teams risk picks on bigs who have any potential at all. So, I think there’s a decent chance no quality big-man prospects will remain on the board at this point.

In that event, Buford would represent great value. At Ohio State, he looked like a late first-round pick. He has ideal size, shoots well from outside and possesses defensive smarts. He might not have the athleticism to get to the rim or be a defensive terror. But he knows how to play, and that’s important. I can’t figure out why he’s fallen so far, other than that he played four years for the Buckeyes and gave scouts too long to dissect his flaws – and that’s not a good reason to drop.

Patrick Hayes: Darius Johnson-Odom. I know, I know … I already begged for a Marquette player at pick 39 yesterday. But with Ben Gordon traded, the Pistons suddenly need guard depth and DJO is arguably the most athletic guard in this draft, he’s tough, he has a great work ethic, he’s fun to watch and he made 39 percent of his threes last season.

J.M. Poulard: Alabama’s JaMychal Green might actually be the best bet for the Detroit Pistons at this spot. The power forward is somewhat undersized, but nonetheless comes with athleticism as well as the ability to finish around the rim. Considering that the Pistons had some issues converting shots in the lane against opposing defenses, getting a back up big man capable of capitalizing on opportunities around the rim certainly seems like a necessity given the Pistons scoring woes last season.

3. Which realistic target at 44 nine would make the worst pick?

Dan Feldman: Selling the pick. I’m fine with trading for a future pick if the Pistons don’t like anyone when their turn comes up, but in that event, just selling the pick outright would be a tremendous disappointment. A bigger possible disappointment: the Pistons liking a player when their turn comes up but sell the pick either because they need the money or are afraid to add too many rookies at once. Another, albeit smaller downer: reaching for a player because he agreed to spend a year or two overseas (and off Detroit’s payroll).

Patrick Hayes: Henry Sims. Nothing against Sims, he just seems too much like last year’s second rounder, Vernon Macklin. Sims isn’t as old and probably has a bit more upside, but he is a limited big man and as we saw last year with Macklin, limited big men, even ones who were fairly productive in the spot minutes they were given, probably have a hard time cracking Lawrence Frank‘s rotation.

J.M. Poulard: William Buford out of Ohio State might be the worst selection Detroit could potentially make with the 44th pick. It’s not so much that he is a bad player, but more so that he is a bad fit. He’s a subpar finisher in traffic and will probably stay camped out on the perimeter for midrange jumpers. Once again, not necessarily a bad skill, but on a team possessing many players who already fit that mold, he would be awfully redundant and quite frankly useless.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Miles Plumlee

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-10, 245 pounds, senior F/C from Duke
  • Key Stats: 6.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 0.9 blocks per game, 61 percent shooting
  • Projected: Second round

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

* Note: This will be the last profile in this year’s Draft Dreams series — 51 prospects in all, a new record in the three years I’ve been doing this. Look for my mock draft tomorrow.

Plumlee was a role player at Duke, playing just 20 minutes per game as a senior. But he’s had a great summer in pre-draft workouts. From Fox Sports North:

After the Minnesota workouts, Plumlee’s stock began to rise. He played well then, and he’s been exceeding expectations since, pushing his name as far up the draft ladder as late in the first round. At the combine, he measured 6-foot-11-3/4 with shoes, and his 7-foot-3/4 wingspan was better than Tyler Zeller’s. He’s been silencing critics who say he was inconsistent in college, not athletic enough, not NBA caliber.

Pros for the Pistons

Plumlee is one of several second round bigs the Pistons would probably consider. He’s an OK shot-blocker on a per-minute basis, though not an elite one, he runs the floor well and he’s much more athletic than he’s given credit for. He should at the very least be an effective rebounder and fundamentally sound backup big man in the NBA, and the Pistons could definitely use that.

Cons for the Pistons

Yesterday’s trade might change what we’ve assumed all along the Pistons are looking for in the draft. Yes, they still have frontcourt needs, but all of a sudden, they have little depth in the backcourt and no 3-point shooters to stretch the floor for their guards who love to drive and their big man who is great at finding shooters spotting up. There are certainly big men available in the second round that might help down the road, but there are also elite shooters like Doron Lamb or Darius Johnson-Odom who might fill more pressing needs now that Ben Gordon is gone.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Plumlee’s stock has also risen dramatically over the course of the last month. Despite his pedestrian numbers at Duke, teams are intrigued with his elite athletic abilities and rebounding. Could be the next Jeff Foster.

DraftExpress:

Outside of his offensive rebounding prowess, the another interesting wrinkle to Plumlee’s game are the brief flashes (just six attempts all season) that he has shown as a spot-up shooter from mid-range, particularly given his comfort operating out of the pick-and-roll. He already sets very good screens and rolls hard to the basket, which is an asset given the predominance of pick-and-roll sets in NBA playbooks. His shooting mechanics need significant work, as his shooting touch isn’t great and he spots a slow release with a bit of a hitch, but if he is able to develop in this area, he would have a much better chance of carving out a role in an NBA rotation.

Previously

3-on-3: With the 39th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select …

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. In the days leading up to the draft, we’re going to discuss what the Pistons could/should/might/should not do with each of their three picks.

For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today as we discuss the 39th pick, that’s Thom (not Tom) Powell. Thom is a Pistons fan who writes for DigitalRefrain.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Please add your responses in the comments.

1. Which player do you think the Pistons are most likely to select at pick 39?

Dan FeldmanDrew Gordon. Joe Dumars has taken plenty of calculated risks in the second round. Some of turned out well (Amir Johnson), and others have not (Walter Sharpe). Needing more interior players, the Pistons could take a swing at Gordon — as long as Dumars believes Gordon’s troubles at UCLA were either overblown or behind him.

Patrick Hayes: I would guess they will look hard at taking one of three big men — Kyle O’Quinn, Miles Plumlee or Drew Gordon. If all three are on the board, that’s the order I’d rank them. Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank have both alluded to a need to get not only better defensively up front, but also tougher. O’Quinn and his many scowls meet that need and would be a welcome addition to a team that currently has too many guys who seem nice and easy-going.

Thom Powell: It’s tough to say, just because it will be contingent on a number of other factors — who the Pistons take at nine, whether a first round prospect falls, etc. — and because the 2nd round is generally more unpredictable than the first. Draft Express has the Pistons taking Jared Cunningham (SG, Oregon St.) and I do think that’s a genuine possibility. If the Pistons take a big like John Henson or Meyers Leonard at nine, I could see them taking a two guard to groom for Ben Gordon‘s inevitable departure. Cunningham’s major strength (getting to the free throw line) is very similar to Rodney Stuckey‘s and while he played in a pretty weak Pac-12, it was still a major conference with steeper competition than most mid-major prospects faced. Cunningham is just one possibility at guard, though. Guys like Tony Wroten (if he falls), Scott Machado and Doron Lamb are all potential options. I could also see the Pistons adding another big for depth purposes, too. If Detroit takes Henson, they could also add someone like Miles Plumlee to add a bit more size and strength to the front court, given Henson’s slender frame.

2. Which realistic target at pick 39 would make the best pick?

Dan Feldman: Jared Sullinger. Maybe I’m dreaming – and it would probably take a trade up to get him — but I’m still holding out hope that Sullinger falls this far. After seeing how general managers let DeJuan Blair fall three years ago, I can maybe convince myself to believe they’re that foolish. (Or wise, because, despite my wishes, they were right to let Wayne Simien fall in 2005 due to his injury issues. But let’s not talk about that. Blair 2.0!) As far as players more likely to be there, like everyone else, I like Scott Machado and Jae Crowder.

Patrick Hayes: Jae Crowder. Of course, this could change if the Pistons end up taking a perimeter player in the lottery. But assuming they don’t, Crowder fills a need for toughness and athleticism on the perimeter. He’s athletic, strong, plays extremely hard and it’s easy to see him playing productive minutes in relief of Tayshaun Prince immediately.

Thom Powell: I’ve been on the Kyle O’Quinn bandwagon since Norfolk State upset Missouri and I have no intention of getting off it anytime soon. He’s a tough, physical big, and an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker whose timing and seven-foot-five wingspan should translate well to the NBA game. His rebounding and shot-blocking alone should make him an upgrade over Jason Maxiell, but his offensive game is equally intriguing. O’Quinn was a very efficient scorer at Norfolk State, notching 16 points per game on only 10 shots a night, shooting 57 percent from the field, and averaging over six free throw attempts per contest. He averaged a paltry 18.8 percent from behind the three point line, but still has excellent range on his jumper and has the potential to expand his range even further with some work. I could see him being off the board before the 39th pick — most likely at the hands of a savvy franchise like San Antonio — but most mocks have O’Quinn being taken around or after where the Pistons draft.

3. Which realistic target at pick 39 would make the worst pick?

Dan Feldman: Hollis Thompson. He might look like an NBA player when you examine his size and fluidity, but he hasn’t consistently played with the intensity to prove he can compete. I’d let someone else chance that he develops it.

Patrick Hayes: Will Barton. It’s nothing against Barton — I think he has a chance to develop into a solid player somewhere. But he’s a young player who needs some refinement to his game, and as we saw last year, Lawrence Frank‘s security blanket, aka Prince, makes it easy for Frank to justify not playing mistake-prone young wings with upside. A more polished, experienced wing like Crowder, Doron Lamb or John Jenkins would stand a better chance at earning minutes right away than a raw player in need of development.

Thom Powell: Bernard James posted some intriguing numbers during his senior season at Florida State and his measurables are solid. The problem is that he’s already 27. That’s the same age, coincidentally, as a recent NBA champion who happens to share his last name. I liked what I saw from Vernon Macklin, another old rookie, last season, but James faces the same issue that frustrated me with Macklin: a lack of playing time. It doesn’t make sense to draft a guy in their mid to late twenties and sit them, mainly because they don’t have much upside at that point in their career. Either James contributes immediately or it’s a wasted pick. Is it worth taking a guy who’ll be 30 in three seasons if you’re not 100 percent sure he can contribute immediately? If the Pistons wouldn’t give Macklin any burn last year — despite solid production, albeit in limited minutes — I’d hate for them to make the same mistake with another second rounder who’s already a year older than him.

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: John Henson

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-11, 220 pounds, junior F/C from North Carolina
  • Key Stats: 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.9 blocks per game, 50 percent shooting
  • Projected: Lottery
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Henson, simply, seems like the best fit. Like all of the prospects available at nine, he has significant strengths and weaknesses, but his defense and, in particular, his shot-blocking fill Detroit’s two most glaring needs.

Since the lottery when we learned where the Pistons would be picking, Henson has felt like the front-runner for this pick and he’s done nothing to change that.

Pros for the Pistons

Henson has been discussed so much by Pistons fans, we pretty much already have a good feel for his strengths. He blocks shots, he boards, he’s a good all-around athlete and he’s the rim-protecting presence the Pistons need. He’s also a two-time defensive player of the year in the ACC and, although he has a slight build, he’s mobile enough to jump out and defend a pick and roll. All of those things mentioned were areas where Pistons not named Ben Wallace were deficient last season.

Henson also appears to have a strong work ethic. Two of the biggest knocks on him are that he lacks strength and he’s a poor free throw shooter, but he’s clearly improved in both of those areas in three years of college. Henson gained, according to some reports, as much as 37 pounds during his time at UNC. And though his 51 percent free throw shooting as a junior is nothing to brag about, he did improve from 43 to 47 to 51 percent in his three college seasons.

Cons for the Pistons

As Dan laid out in detail yesterday, Henson is essentially the ‘safe’ pick at nine. Most scouts are convinced he’ll be at the very least a solid NBA player, but probably doesn’t have All-Star caliber potential whereas guys like Meyers Leonard or Perry Jones might have higher bust potential but they also have extremely high ceilings. If the Pistons take Henson and then two or three years down the road, either Leonard or Jones has developed into star player, it will be another pick lamented by fans with the benefit of hindsight. That’s not to say Henson has no potential, because he does, but so much more is known about him because of his college track record than the others.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Henson is a tough player to peg. Henson is the hardest player to peg. He’s a freak athlete, is loooooooong, is a terrific shot blocker and has an emerging game on the offensive end. He plays hard, is unselfish and has put a lot of work into his game. However, he has a super thin frame and lacks a clear position at the next level. Most of the NBA scouts I’ve spoken with struggle to project him at the next level. Someone will likely take him in the late lottery based on his talent and production, but he’s not seen as a sure thing by scouts.

DraftExpress:

Henson’s combination of coordination, length, athleticism, hands, and ability to finish with finesse and power make him extremely dangerous operating on cuts and pick-and-rolls, both of which could be utilized even more effectively than they are now in the right system at the next level. Henson’s actually been used very sparingly on pick-and-rolls this season, especially going to the basket, and that may actually be his most potent offensive skill at the next level.

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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Leon Radosevic

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 238 pounds, 22-year-old F/C from Croatia
  • Projected: Second round

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Radosevic represents another possible player the Pistons could take in the second round who might be amenable to staying overseas for a season or two, both to develop his own game and allow the Pistons more time to balance out their own roster.

Pros for the Pistons

Radosevic has two immediate things that would interest the Pistons with their later second round pick — size and activity.

Scouting reports suggest that he showed improvement overseas from last season to this season and he was also much more athletic (see Chad Ford’s note below) than many previously gave him credit for. He has a face-up game and can hit a perimeter jumper, which never hurts if you’re a big man looking to win a backup spot in the NBA.

Cons for the Pistons

Who the Pistons take here largely boils down to their roster situation. It looks like Kyle Singler will be on the team next season, occupying one spot. Every day that goes by without an official Ben Wallace retirement announcement makes me think chances are improving that he’ll play another season. If Jason Maxiell’s agent doesn’t think the market for him is great this summer, he could be back. So, if all of those things happen, a pick like Radosevic, who could possibly stay overseas, would make some sense. However if Wallace does retire and if Maxiell does become a free agent, the Pistons might need bodies in the draft who have a chance at making the roster from day one, and I’m not sure if Radosevic fits that bill or not. He’s known more for his offense than his defense, and I’ve heard rumors that defense has been a tad bit of a problem for Detroit in recent years.

What is the best thing Leon Radosevic does for his team?

Sam Meyerkopf (follow him on Twitter) is the co-creator of Euroleague Adventures:

“The best thing Radosevic brings to your team is his offensive IQ. Radosevic is a long, energetic big who has a lot of offensive polish to his game. He can run the pick and roll, post up to utilize his solid footwork, and always finds open spaces to get off his incredibly reliable mid-range jumper. His energetic play combined with his offensive knowhow will lead to many open jumpers, put back finishes, and smart plays for his future squad.

He had a down year with Armani Milano this year, but that’s because he was put into a role player position and not given many offensive touches. The year before for Cibona Zagreb, Radosevic at 21 years old was one of the team’s top offensive weapons. This allowed him to grow immensely as a player and develop a lot of different offensive skills. Now an intelligent big man, Radosevic will benefit from a change of scenery and should fit nicely into any rotation.”

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Radosevic showed off some athletic ability and surprised some scouts at Eurocamp when he scored a 36-inch vertical. But an ankle injury kept him out of the camp after Saturday evening. He’s still very much in the mix as a second-round pick if he stays in the draft.

DraftExpress:

Automatically eligible for the 2012 NBA Draft, Radosevic is our top ranked 1990 international prospect for a reason. He is a fundamentally sound all-around player with good size who can step away from the rim, run the pick and pop, and make savvy plays to score inside the paint. Scout have gotten to see very little of that from him this season, and considering his limitations defensively, his ability to show what he brings to the table offensively at a few key moments in the pre-draft process will likely play a role in what his draft stock looks like closer to June 28th.

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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Doron Lamb

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, sophomore G from Kentucky
  • Key Stats: 13.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game, 47 percent from the field, 47 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first round/second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

I dunno what to write here without sounding redundant and sounding like I like every single prospect in this draft. I’ll go with … because Kevin Sawyer of Detroit Bad Boys really, really likes him:

Not a lot of upside here., perhaps. With Lamb, you get one bankable skill (shooting) and that’s it. That said, Lamb has the size and the hands to bring his efficiency (64% TS) to the NBA level without a hitch. He’s the 8th best draft prospect, I think, but he’s too vanilla for a lottery team to bite. Don’t see him slipping past the first round though.

Pros for the Pistons

First and foremost, I trust John Calipari as a finder of NBA talent. No one at the college level is better than him in that respect, so if Lamb could play a big role at Kentucky, I’m convinced he can play some role for a NBA team.

And secondly, the dude can flat out shoot, and that’s a skill the Pistons desperately need. Brandon Knight had a nice season shooting the ball, but shooting was never known as his strength prior to his rookie season. I’m not saying he’ll regress, I’m just saying I’d like to see him replicate that long range shooting performance before I’m convinced that he’s a lethal NBA 3-point shooter. Ben Gordon is a legitimate long range threat, but who knows what his long-term future with the team is and paying $12ish million per season for a one-dimensional shooter isn’t ideal. Lamb, on the other hand, if he’s there in the second round would not only put another shooter on the court to open driving lanes for Knight or Rodney Stuckey, he’d do so at the cheap price of a second round contract. Plus, unlike Gordon, he has the physical tools (namely, wingspan and quickness) to develop into a solid defensive player and, also unlike Gordon, Lamb is a good ball-handler and not as turnover prone. He’d be great value for the Pistons if he’s still around when they pick early in the second round.

Cons for the Pistons

Lamb could find his path to getting minutes blocked until the Pistons do something with Gordon. Their backcourt is crowded albeit flawed, and unless Lamb can play some backup minutes at small forward, he might sit a lot initially. I think the Pistons, ideally, would like to find players with their first two picks in this draft who have a good shot at being rotation players or better. I think Lamb would be good enough to be a rotation player, but because of the roster situation, he’d be a likely player to get squeezed out of minutes.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Lamb isn’t the all-around talent that the other four draft candidates from Kentucky are. However, he’s one of the two or three best shooters in the draft. Later in the first round, teams often opt for specialists over upside and Lamb could prove valuable to a few veteran teams that really need a jump shooter.

DraftExpress:

While Lamb lacks elite physical tools, he has once again proven to be a dependable and active defender at the collegiate level. He struggles to stay in front of quicker players at times, but he shows very good fundamentals and effort, suggesting that he will be a very capable defender at the next level with continued work on his strength and added experience.

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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: J’Covan Brown

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-1, 197 pounds, junior G from Texas
  • Key Stats: 20.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.2 steals per game, 42 percent from the field, 37 percent from three
  • Projected: Second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

Brown is another versatile guard who could give the Pistons some depth if he’s available in the second round. Also, I’m intrigued by the fact that Texas players dominate the combine when it comes to having high body fat percentages. Brown led all prospects this season at the combine. Cory Joseph was in the top 10 last season. Dexter Pittman led two seasons ago. Texas players are well-fed.

Pros for the Pistons

Unlike yesterday’s combo guard prospect, Jared Cunningham, Brown would be a bit better fit with the Pistons offensively simply because he’s a very good 3-point shooter — he shot 37 percent last year and 39 percent as a sophomore from three. Brown, though a natural scorer, is also a little more of a point guard than Cunningham. Despite being only 6-foot-1, he’s also capable of getting inside and finishing — he shot nearly six free throws per game last season.

Cons for the Pistons

The Pistons could really use a pass-first point guard in their backup spot, since Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and Will Bynum are all guys more comfortable looking for their own shot first. Brown was definitely not a pass-first player at Texas. He didn’t always have great shot selection and, if he proves to be more of a shooting guard than a point guard at the NBA level, he’ll probably struggle defensively against big two guards. Still, the Pistons could use some guard depth and if Scott Machado is gone by their second second round pick, Brown will be one of a handful of guards in that range teams will be looking at.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Brown was one of the best scoring guards in college basketball this season. When he gets it going, he can be very hard to stop. However, scouts have serious questions about his shot selection, turnovers and position. He is undersized as a 2-guard and doesn’t really have point-guard skills. He’ll likely go in the second round or undrafted.

DraftExpress:

Another player who seemingly helped himself quite a bit was Texas guard J’Covan Brown. Playing mostly off the ball throughout his career alongside McDonald’s All-Americans Myck Kabongo,Cory Joseph and Avery Bradley, Brown showed terrific timing running the pick and roll, changing speeds extremely well and making strong decisions with the ball in his hands. He did a good job displaying both his passing and scoring ability, and measured reasonably well at 6-2 in shoes with a 6-4 ½ wingspan. With the weakness of this class at the point guard spot, he could be an attractive option for a team drafting in the second round.

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Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Jared Cunningham

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 194 pounds, junior G from Oregon State
  • Key Stats: 17.7 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists. 2.5 steals per game, 45 percent from the field, 34 percent from three
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Why I’m intrigued by this guy

What can I say, like Joe Dumars, I’m a sucker for combo guards. Cunningham is athletic, fast and dabbled at the point guard spot despite being primarily a shooting guard in college.

Pros for the Pistons

The reason I like Cunningham is mainly for his defensive potential. He averaged 2.5 steals per game — Dan Feldman’s favorite stat! — and has the length and quickness to be a disruptive force in passing lanes off the ball. He has a lot of the same attributes as Jeremy Lamb, Lamb is just projected to go in the lottery while Cunningham could be on the board when the Pistons pick early in the second round.

Cons for the Pistons

It’s probably not a great strategy for the Pistons to continue filling their guard spots with players who are kinda point guards sometimes but not really and kinda wings but a bit too small to guard the biggest players at that position. Also, if the Pistons were to look at a guard in this draft, I would hope it would be one who can stretch the floor by being a knock-down 3-point shooter. Cunningham can hit the three, but he’s streaky and his strength is attacking the basket, which sounds a lot like how Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight both like to play. Cunningham is too talented to not consider if he’s still there in the second round, but his path to finding minutes and a role early one might be a difficult one considering the makeup of the roster.

What others are saying

Chad Ford:

Cunningham was one of the high risers out of the NBA combine. The question is: Where does he go? Everyone likes him, but after the Hawks are off the board at No. 23, there isn’t a team left in the first round with a big need at the point. That could change with trades, but a pulled hamstring has also forced him to sit the week out. That can’t help either.

DraftExpress:

Defensively, Cunningham has real virtues, as evidenced by the fact that he was named to the Pac-12 all-defensive first team, despite playing on the conference’s fourth worst defense.

On one hand, he has quick feet and excellent anticipation skills, helping him rank in the top-10 amongst all prospects in steals this season, and #1 last season.

His average size and frame might make it difficult at times to keep up with some of the bigger and more physical shooting guards he’ll encounter in the NBA, but his peskiness and ability to put excellent pressure on the ball will surely work in his favor on this end of the floor.

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