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Category → Draft Dreams

Pistons draft Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with No. 8 pick

The Pistons drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope with the No. 8 pick in the 2013 draft. Here’s our pre-draft analysis of him, as written by Patrick Hayes:

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-5, 205pounds, sophomore guard from Georgia
  • Key Stats: 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game; 44 percent shooting.
  • Projected: Top 15
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

I have a growing suspicion that Caldwell-Pope might be Detroit’s pick, and it was strengthened by Dan Feldman’s report yesterday that KCP has not worked out for the Pistons.

Joe Dumars has a bit of a history of drafting players who are a bit under the radar — Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye, for example. Not working out KCP could mean the Pistons have zero interest in him and don’t like his game. That doesn’t make much sense to me to have a definitive conclusion like that on a consensus top 15 guy who has a skillset and plays a position that is a weakness on the roster. Or conversely, the Pistons could like him so much that they don’t want anyone else to know they are taking him that high, hence not working him out. Again, the Stuckey and Daye picks stayed relatively quiet right up until the selections were made. Caldwell-Pope is similar to those guys as a late riser. It wouldn’t make much sense for the Pistons to take him without ever working him out. But it also wouldn’t make much sense for them to have zero interest at all. Which of those similarly far-fetched scenarios is accurate though?

Fits with the Pistons because …

Caldwell-Pope is a strong wing player, a good shooter and he projects as a solid defensive player. He’s not Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore or Otto Porter — the clear prizes on the wing in this draft — but if he can continue to hit the three at a decent rate as a pro and adjust to guarding NBA perimeter players, he wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. The Pistons need shooting, athleticism, toughness and size on the wing, and they might be able to find some of those qualities in Caldwell-Pope.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

The Pistons go out of their way to tell everyone that Brandon Knight was a steal in the draft and that he ‘fell’ to them. In reality, Knight only ‘fell’ because he rose a bit too high in the pre-draft process. Knight was mostly considered a mid-first round pick early on in the 2011 draft season. But he used a great tournament performance, along with the fact that some big names like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, John Henson and Perry Jones decided to stay an extra year in school, to shoot up into the top five in some early projections. So Knight didn’t really ‘fall’ as much as he came back to Earth and went closer to the range that was more realistic for him.

I only highlight this because Caldwell-Pope is on a similar, seemingly out of nowhere upward trajectory. He’s more productive than Knight was in college and there are certainly legitimate reasons to take him, but he also wasn’t necessarily considered a potential top 10 pick until fairly recently. Depending on who is left on the board when the Pistons pick, taking him at eight might prove to be a reach. Maybe not an egregious one, but a reach nonetheless.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

Caldwell-Pope didn’t particularly shoot it well in workouts, but the more I speak with GMs and scouts, the more likely it seems that he’s going somewhere in the mid-to-late lottery. Not only are teams attracted to his shooting ability and size but many feel as if he has a great grasp for the game and could be special someday. I could see him going to a team such as the Pistons, Wolves, Blazers or Sixers.

DraftExpress:

Caldwell-Pope’s biggest weapon when he looked to score was his pull-up jump shot. With nearly three-quarters of his shot attempts coming from the perimeter in the half court, roughly half of which were off the bounce, he scored a second ranked 1.118 points per-shot as a pull-up jump shooter, an impressive mark relative to his average 1.066 points per-shot in catch and shoot situations

On film:

PistonPowered Mock Draft: Will the Pistons make a good gamble two years in a row?

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 the annual PistonPowered mock draft.

I’ve done mock drafts the last couple of years, and this year’s top 15 or so picks are about the easiest. I know there is lots of chatter about teams not knowing what they are going to do at certain spots, but seriously … stop overthinking this everyone.

Feel free to post your own versions in the comments.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel

Don’t screw this up, Cleveland. Or do, preferably. Noel is the only player in this draft worth t

aking No. 1 overall. The Cavs would be crazy to pass on him. Take him, pair him with the solid Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, solidify your frontcourt and go shopping for a small forward. This is easy guys.

2. Orlando Magic – Victor Oladipo

Another no-brainer (see, I told you this draft was easy!). Make the rumored trade with the Clippers that will bring Eric Bledsoe to the Magic, draft Oladipo and GET ALL THE STEALS with an insanely fun, defensive-minded backcourt.

3. Washington Wizards – Otto Porter

Washington, like Cleveland, makes itself a potential up-and-coming playoff contender with this pick. Adding the versatile Porter to a perimeter attack that includes John Wall and Brad Beal with Nene in the middle and Washington is in business (yes, I know that logo is the old Wizards logo … I’m too lazy to upload the new one though).

4. Charlotte Bobcats – Ben McLemore

I want to believe that Rich Cho is too smart to do something like take Alex Len or Cody Zeller here, as rumors have suggested he might. The Bobcats are still light years away from being competitive. McLemore and his nice jumper make him a good complement to last year’s perimeter pick, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. A Kemba Walker-McLemore-MKG perimeter trio is not a bad start, especially if the Bobcats can add anything at all to their frontcourt.

5. Phoenix Suns – Anthony Bennett

Another team that could do just about anything, including crazy things like draft any of the three top point guard prospects, none of whom are likely as good as the one they have in Goran Dragic. They should take Bennett, a raw but intriguing forward who would allow them to move Luis Scola and/or Marcin Gortat for young players and picks and actually do a rebuild the right way.

6. New Orleans Pelicans – Trey Burke

I would love for Burke to fall to the Pistons, but I just can’t envision it happening. New Orleans is too needy at point guard, although Greivis Vasquez did have a good season for them, and Burke is a perfect fit. They’ll do the right thing, take Burke, let him work with Vasquez and Eric Gordon (if they don’t trade him) in a versatile backcourt and never let Austin Rivers onto a basketball court again.

 

7. Sacramento Kings – C.J. McCollum

I don’t want to live in a world where the Kings don’t draft a combo guard. I know they have new ownership and a new front office, so it might not happen this year, but adding McCollum to a list of not really point guard not really shooting guard guards that includes Isaiah Thomas, Jimmer Fredette and (if he’s re-signed) Tyreke Evans would be amazing. The best part is, even if the Kings and their new leadership are smarter and don’t want to draft another combo guard, how great is it that they could be in a position where the best player available — McCollum — is exactly what they don’t want?

8. Detroit Pistons – Shabazz Muhammad

In 2011, the Pistons took a college player with a great pedigree but so-so production in Brandon Knight. The jury’s still out on that one. Last year, they took a college player with a great pedigree but so-so production in Andre Drummond. He looks like a potential star. Joe Dumars has shown a willingness to value potential over all else when picking late in the lottery, and the player still on the board with the most potential is Muhammad. I’ll be rooting for Burke to fall to Detroit, but if he doesn’t, based on Dumars’ own draft strategy the last two years, Muhammad most closely resembles the type of player he is willing to gamble on. If it pays off with Muhammad, the Pistons will have another star.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Cody Zeller

Nikola Pekovic is a free agent and Kevin Love is about to become the superstar most talked about in trade rumors/’will he leave in free agency?’ rumors. Zeller will likely give quality minutes right away as a pro. He also reportedly had a good workout in Minnesota. If the T-Wolves are convinced they can re-sign Pekovic, they might look at guards, but unless someone falls here, Zeller is probably the best player available.

10. Portland Trail Blazers – Steven Adams

The Blazers have several needs, but the most pressing might be up front since LaMarcus Aldridge is reportedly hoping to be moved elsewhere. An Adams-Meyers Leonard frontcourt may not be good, but both have potential and, if the Blazers get picks and prospects if they decide to move Aldridge, giving those young bigs plenty of minutes to see if one or the other develop wouldn’t be the worst idea if they do try to rebuild without Aldridge.

11. Philadelphia 76ers – Alex Len

I don’t think Len is going to be good, and I’m certainly not buying him as a potential No. 1 pick. But the Sixers are thin up front and relatively set on the perimeter with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner. Len is the biggest name left here and gives them some insurance in the likely event Andrew Bynum doesn’t re-sign.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Kevin Martin insurance! The Thunder reportedly want to move up, but if they can’t, they’d be extremely lucky to get KCP here, making it less of a concern if they’re not able to re-sign Martin in free agency. Caldwell-Pope and Jeremy Lamb, a first round pick last year acquired in the James Harden trade, could then battle it out for Martin’s role.

13. Dallas Mavericks – Dennis Schroeder

The Mavs reportedly have tried to move this pick, so don’t be shocked if that happens. They’d reportedly prefer to not pay a first round pick and instead use the money to pursue free agents. If they don’t move the pick, they could draft an international player and try to keep him overseas for a year or two.

14. Utah Jazz  – Michael Carter-Williams

The Jazz have been looking for a young point guard since they traded Deron Williams, and Carter-Williams still being around here would be tough for them to pass up. He could go as high as the top 10, and his passing ability would make him a good fit feeding the ball into Utah’s young bigs.

15. Milwaukee Bucks – Reggie Bullock

With Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick both good bets to leave, the Bucks add a knock-down three-point shooter who also has good size to pair next to Brandon Jennings (assuming the Bucks match any offer he signs as a restricted free agent).

16. Boston Celtics – Sergey Karasev

With Boston allegedly looking to gut its core and move Paul Pierce this offseason, the team can draft a potential replacement with Karasev, a 19-year-old Russian player.

 

17. and 18. Atlanta Hawks – Lucas Nogueira and Giannis Adetokunbo

The Hawks are another team with the cap space to be active in free agency. Drafting international players gives them the option to try to convince their prospects to stay overseas for a year and conserve those salaries. But if they do decide to come over, they get frontcourt help, athleticism and, in Nogueira’s case, shot-blocking, in case Josh Smith leaves as a free agent.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers – Kelly Olynyk

I probably have him falling too far, but the Cavs would be thrilled to get him here. Olynyk with his shooting range and offensive ability would add nice versatility to a strong, young Cavs frontcourt that also includes Noel, Thompson, Varejao and Tyler Zeller.

20. Chicago Bulls – Tim Hardaway Jr.

Aside from the fact that his dad was a Chicago prep scene legend, Hardaway Jr.’s shooting makes and position make him an instant fit for a Bulls team that needs help at the shooting guard spot. Marco Belinelli is a free agent and Richard Hamilton has perennially been both injured and a trade candidate since he arrived in Chicago. Hardaway Jr. might not be an immediate starter, but he could definitely give spot minutes at that spot as the Bulls seek a replacement.

21. Utah Jazz – Jeff Withey

Utah could lose Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap to free agency. Withey probably isn’t going to develop into a NBA starter, but he could be a sturdy rotation player. The Jazz don’t need a starter anyway, if Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter continue to develop into a productive duo who handle the bulk of the frontcourt minutes.

22. Brooklyn Nets – Shane Larkin

The Nets could use depth in the frontcourt and backcourt, as well as a long-term replacement for the declining Gerald Wallace. But with Larkin still hanging around here, getting a promising backup for Deron Williams in case of injury and as a way to get him more rest during the season would be a good find for them in the draft.

 

 

 

23. Indiana Pacers – Isaiah Canaan

Another team that could use some point guard depth behind its starter (apologies, D.J. Augustin), the Pacers could grab Canaan here, a productive player from one of the top Mid-Major programs in the country. I was really tempted to give them the other Plumlee brother though. All dopey brother duos should be united on teams forever. Get Robin Lopez to Brooklyn while we’re at it.

 

24. New York Knicks – Rudy Gobert

The Knicks are really old, particularly up front, and Gobert gives them some youth to infuse with Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and whatever 1,000-year-old vets minimum guy Mike Woodson decides to add too the rotation next season. Their great find from last season, Chris Copeland, is also a free agent who might be hard for them to re-sign.

 

25. Los Angeles Clippers – Pierre Jackson

This might be a tad of a reach for Jackson, but if the Clippers trade Eric Bledsoe for Arron Afflalo, they’ll need a backup point guard. Jackson, a lighting-fast guard from Baylor, would potentially spell Chris Paul and still be a good fit pushing the pace and throwing lobs to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves – Allen Crabbe

The T-Wolves passed on guard help early on, so they’ll take a pretty decent backcourt prospect here. Adding a shooter will help both Ricky Rubio and give Pekovic (if he’s re-signed) more freedom to operate inside.

27. Denver Nuggets – Jamaal Franklin

The Nuggets might have to replace free agent Andre Iguodala. Franklin is nowhere near as good as Iguodala, but he’ll give them a strong, athletic presence on the wing with the tools to develop into a competent defensive player.

28. San Antonio Spurs – Ricky Ledo

Ledo has lottery talent, but never touched the court in college for a variety of reasons. Few teams have the structure the Spurs can offer to help him eliminate distractions and realize his vast potential.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder – Gorgui Dieng

Dieng isn’t the most highly skilled big out there, but he’s a great shot-blocker, and if the Thunder find a taker for Kendrick Perkins, perhaps between Dieng and Hasheem Thabeet, they can put an awkward rim-protector on the floor to occupy some of those minutes.

30. Phoenix Suns – Tony Snell

I had the Suns adding Bennett earlier, and they get even more athletic in the frontcourt with the addition of Snell. The Suns are trying to reinvent their days of exciting offense, and surrounding Dragic with athletes who can run and finish is a start.

I’ll tackle the second round after the jump. Continue reading →

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Anthony Bennett

Discuss Draft Dreams on Twitter using the #DraftDreams hashtag.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-7, 239 pounds, freshman forward from UNLV.

  • Key Stats: 15.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 1.2 blocks per game; shot 52.6 percent from the field and 38.3 percent on 3-pointers

  • Projected: top-six pick

Random fact

Bennett had the stereotypical experience of a big-time recruit at a mid-major program on the court, but off the court, UNLV shielded him. Mike Grimala of Vegas Seven:

Not to throw around the term “kid gloves,” but there’s a reason why Bennett is whisked away before reporters can speak to him after practice and has rarely been brought to the podium for postgame press conferences. Like a lot of kids who just turned 20, Bennett is soft-spoken and somewhat camera shy. So if he prefers not to talk to the press, the program is willing to shield him.

And when Bennett’s questionable conditioning led to some notable instances of loafing during early-season games, the blowback from the coaching staff was minimal. Reducing his playing time was out of the question: Why risk upsetting Bennett when the safer option is to let him enjoy his time at UNLV and then watch him smile for the cameras on draft night and tell the world how much he loved it here?

Don’t forget, Rice is a young coach. This is just his second year as the head man, and he’s never gone through the experience of shepherding a one-and-done superstar through a college campaign. Like all kinds of rare good fortune, it’s a complicated business.

Fits with the Pistons because …

He’s really good. Bennett is a better prospect that anyone likely to available to the Pistons at No. 8 (unless you think Trey Burke is likely to be available at No. 8). Joe Dumars has never shown a tendency to reach for need, and if Bennett is the only top prospect to slip, I bet he’s the pick.

Bennett is capable of scoring inside and out, possessing a frame that allows him to bully smaller defenders in the paint and quickness that allows him to drive past bigger defenders for the perimeter.

For all the reasons Bennett scores so well – his size and athleticism – he could be a better defender and rebounder. When given a choice of how to channel their energy, most players would probably focus on scoring. Maybe that’s what UNLV needed, and Bennett can display better peripheral skills at the next level.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Perhaps, Bennett can transition to small forward so he can play with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, but I don’t think the move would be as easy as some indicate.

Bennett moves well for a power forward. He dribbles well for a power forward. He shoots well for a power forward. All those strengths become average at small forward, at least in the short term.

Also, he’ll likely be off the board before the Pistons pick – though of the draft’s consensus top six players, he seems most likely to fall.

From the experts

Chad Ford:

Bennett might be the most versatile player in the draft. He’s equally comfortable on the perimeter or in the post. While some will call him a "tweener," Bennett is so talented that he looks more like a mismatch waiting to happen. He’ll need to keep his weight down and step up his defense, but he could provide instant offense for whichever team lands him.

Quick fact: Bennett ranked eighth in the nation with 1.3 isolation points per play and did not commit a single turnover on such plays (min. 20 plays).

DraftExpress:

The place where Bennett has the most room to improve at the moment seems to be on the defensive end. He often looks like he’s only going half speed here, jogging the floor lackadaisically, relaxing in his stance whenever he can, and losing his focus easily. He regularly gives up deep post position to opposing big men without putting up much of a fight, and loses track of his matchup relatively frequently off the ball. Like many young players, Bennett’s fundamentals are fairly poor on this end of the floor, and his intensity leaves a lot to be desired at times. Maximizing his conditioning-level could help here.

With that said, Bennett’s talent does shine through on this end of the floor as well on occasion, as he’s capable of making some very impressive plays with his terrific combination of length, strength, explosiveness and quickness. He can move his feet well, is very difficult to shoot over when he’s dialed in, and has solid anticipation skills blocking shots and getting his hands on loose balls.

On film

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Shabazz Muhammad

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, freshman G/F from UCLA
  • Key Stats: 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds per game; 44 percent shooting, 38 percent three-point shooting.
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

Oh, Shabazz. You poor thing. What’s happened to Muhammad this draft season is nothing new, of course. Every year, and for a variety of reasons, a player or two who was once highly thought of suddenly becomes the WORST PLAYER IN AMERICA AND A DEFINITE BUST. It happened to Andre Drummond and Perry Jones last year. It happened to Jared Sullinger. There’s a long list of players who were expected to be selected near the top of the draft only to see their stock plummet as the draft neared. Sometimes those reasons turn out to be justified, sometimes they’re not. But Muhammad has most definitely become this year’s version of the ‘so overrated he might be underrated’ meme. There are certainly reasons for the Pistons to hesitate when selecting him or any of the other players potentially available at eight, of course. But at a certain point, Muhammad’s potential outweighs his risk, and I would probably argue that eighth overall in an intriguing but flawed draft might be the right spot.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Muhammad is the scoring wing the Pistons desperately need. He can create his own shot, he’s strong and can absorb contact and he’s an absolutely fearless scorer. He doesn’t have a reputation as a great perimeter shooter, but his percentages at UCLA actually weren’t that bad. He’s also a pretty good offensive rebounder for his position. The Pistons have had perimeter players the last few years who can get in the lane and finish, but can’t draw and absorb contact. They’ve also had players who can draw contact but cannot finish (Mr. Stuckey, looking in your direction). Muhammad should, theoretically, give them both of those things in one player if he’s able to realize his potential as a pro.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Ignoring all of the silly ‘motivation/character’ concerns that I tend to not pay much attention to with any player, Muhammad’s game does have some flaws. His conditioning wasn’t great at UCLA. He’s left-handed and struggles going right. And there have been reports that his workouts, particularly his shooting in those workouts, have not been great. Muhammad does get to the line at a reasonable rate, but he doesn’t make enough free throws once he gets there, hitting just 71 percent.

There are legitimate reasons to question Muhammad’s game. But that’s about as far as my concerns go. Andre Drummond was a perfect example last year. Often, impressionable young players caught up in dysfunctional programs don’t get the development and attention they need and aren’t held as accountable as they would be in a better-run program. Once Drummond got more structure, he excelled. The culture at UCLA was probably even more screwed up asthan the UConn program Drummond was a part of. For a team in the position the Pistons are, with money/flexibility to add to their roster through other means, making a high risk/high reward pick with Muhammad and betting that the structure that helped Drummond could also help him would be a good gamble.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

While it’s clear that Muhammad was overrated at the start of the season, it’s less clear why he’s having a hard time finding a landing spot somewhere now. He’s still a great scorer, a good offensive rebounder and plays really hard. But his flaws (no right-hand handle, trouble shooting off the bounce, so-so lateral quickness) are being blown out of proportion. Yet, this is where Muhammad is on the eve of the draft. He’s going to be playing with a very large chip on his shoulder next season.

Quick fact: Muhammad led the Pac-12 with 1.18 points per play and a 41.1 field goal percentage on guarded catch-and-shoots.

DraftExpress:

From the perimeter, Muhammad has been better than advertised this season, as his reputation coming out of high school was that of a non-shooter. He’s very good with his feet set as a catch and shoot threat, making 40% of his jumpers in this situation, which renders him a legit floor-spacer, even if his shot-selection can leave something to be desired at times. Off the dribble is another story altogether however, as Muhammad made just 12 of his 53 (23%) pull-up attempts.

While he’s wasn’t quite as effective as you might hope (13-39 from the field), Muhammad also has potential as a post-scorer, as he’s strong and skilled enough to punish similarly sized or smaller opponents in one on one situations on the block. His mature frame and relentless style of play help a lot here, and this appears to be an area in which he can continue to find success in at his position as time moves on.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Tony Snell

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-7, 198 pounds, junior forward from New Mexico
  • Key Stats: 12.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists per game; 42 percent shooting, 39 percent three-point shooting.
  • Projected: Late first/early second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

The Pistons have done OK with a couple of guys with the ‘wildly inconsistent’ and ‘occasionally passive’ labels coming out of college in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Because of the success of those two, I have less reservation than I normally would about taking a talented but sometimes disappearing player like Tony Snell.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Snell is a traditional small forward who has been a workout star since declaring for the draft. He’s fast, athletic and is a long-armed defender who can also hit the three-pointer — perhaps a poor man’s Kawhi Leonard. The Pistons still don’t have a long-term answer at the three spot and if Snell’s around when they pick early in the second round, it’s conceivable he could eventually develop into a starting-caliber small forward.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Other than his inconsistent production, which I mentioned above, Snell is not a great rebounder despite his length and athleticism. There are plenty of small forwards in the NBA who don’t rebound that well — the Pistons just had one for a long time in Tayshaun Prince — and if Snell proves to be a capable defender, his lack of rebounding won’t matter as much. But with shot-happy guards on the roster, it wouldn’t hurt to have someone on the court along with Monroe and Drummond who can crash the offensive glass.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

The appeal? He’s a super athletic wing with NBA length and defensive abilities. He was very inconsistent at New Mexico, but I’m told numerous NBA teams love the talent.

DraftExpress:

Snell’s game on the offensive end is built around his outstanding perimeter shooting, and he does a very good job moving without the ball to get open for his shot, as he was constantly being run off of screens in the Lobos’ offense. He connected on 39% of his 3-pointers as a junior and has range that should stretch out past the NBA 3-point line. He does a nice job of rising and squaring himself up for jumpers off of screens or spotting up, and he’s also able to pull up smoothly after a dribble or two.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-5, 205pounds, sophomore guard from Georgia
  • Key Stats: 18.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.0 blocks per game; 44 percent shooting.
  • Projected: Top 15
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

I have a growing suspicion that Caldwell-Pope might be Detroit’s pick, and it was strengthened by Dan Feldman’s report yesterday that KCP has not worked out for the Pistons.

Joe Dumars has a bit of a history of drafting players who are a bit under the radar — Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye, for example. Not working out KCP could mean the Pistons have zero interest in him and don’t like his game. That doesn’t make much sense to me to have a definitive conclusion like that on a consensus top 15 guy who has a skillset and plays a position that is a weakness on the roster. Or conversely, the Pistons could like him so much that they don’t want anyone else to know they are taking him that high, hence not working him out. Again, the Stuckey and Daye picks stayed relatively quiet right up until the selections were made. Caldwell-Pope is similar to those guys as a late riser. It wouldn’t make much sense for the Pistons to take him without ever working him out. But it also wouldn’t make much sense for them to have zero interest at all. Which of those similarly far-fetched scenarios is accurate though?

Fits with the Pistons because …

Caldwell-Pope is a strong wing player, a good shooter and he projects as a solid defensive player. He’s not Victor Oladipo, Ben McLemore or Otto Porter — the clear prizes on the wing in this draft — but if he can continue to hit the three at a decent rate as a pro and adjust to guarding NBA perimeter players, he wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize. The Pistons need shooting, athleticism, toughness and size on the wing, and they might be able to find some of those qualities in Caldwell-Pope.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

The Pistons go out of their way to tell everyone that Brandon Knight was a steal in the draft and that he ‘fell’ to them. In reality, Knight only ‘fell’ because he rose a bit too high in the pre-draft process. Knight was mostly considered a mid-first round pick early on in the 2011 draft season. But he used a great tournament performance, along with the fact that some big names like Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, John Henson and Perry Jones decided to stay an extra year in school, to shoot up into the top five in some early projections. So Knight didn’t really ‘fall’ as much as he came back to Earth and went closer to the range that was more realistic for him.

I only highlight this because Caldwell-Pope is on a similar, seemingly out of nowhere upward trajectory. He’s more productive than Knight was in college and there are certainly legitimate reasons to take him, but he also wasn’t necessarily considered a potential top 10 pick until fairly recently. Depending on who is left on the board when the Pistons pick, taking him at eight might prove to be a reach. Maybe not an egregious one, but a reach nonetheless.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

Caldwell-Pope didn’t particularly shoot it well in workouts, but the more I speak with GMs and scouts, the more likely it seems that he’s going somewhere in the mid-to-late lottery. Not only are teams attracted to his shooting ability and size but many feel as if he has a great grasp for the game and could be special someday. I could see him going to a team such as the Pistons, Wolves, Blazers or Sixers.

DraftExpress:

Caldwell-Pope’s biggest weapon when he looked to score was his pull-up jump shot. With nearly three-quarters of his shot attempts coming from the perimeter in the half court, roughly half of which were off the bounce, he scored a second ranked 1.118 points per-shot as a pull-up jump shooter, an impressive mark relative to his average 1.066 points per-shot in catch and shoot situations.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Solomon Hill

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-7, 22o pounds, senior small forward from Arizona.
  • Key Stats: 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game on 45.8% field goal shooting and 39% from three.
  • Projected: Late second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

Hill has a 37.5 inch max vertical leap. On a team looking to potentially get more athletic, Hill fits that description.

Fits with the Pistons because …

As of right now, the Pistons’ small forward rotation includes Kyle Singler, Khris Middleton and Jonas Jerebko. None of those three have exactly solidified themselves as starting material yet. Solomon Hill is a prototypical wing player, as he only really shoots threes and takes it to the rim. In his last season at Arizona, he averaged 10 field goal attempts per game, 4.2 of them from three and four of them at the rim. He’s a good shot creator, and he proved that in his last season at Arizona. Hill stayed at Arizona all four years. Going into college, he couldn’t create and make his own shot, but he developed that trait and perfected it during the last four years.

Also a proven passer, Hill’s shown good court vision, so he’s good on offense for more than just taking shots.  With Drummond and Monroe being consistent but having short range and no good perimeter shooters in the backcourt, Hill could provide the shooting touch off the bench

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

There isn’t much that stands out for Solomon Hill that would necessarily be bad for him going to the Pistons, except for the fact that you could probably get better value at the 37th pick and he most likely won’t be available at 56. However, if there’s one very weak spot in Hill’s game, it’s his defense. His basketball IQ alone won’t get him where he needs to be in terms of defense — despite his leaping ability, he’s not the most laterally quick wing out there. He is good on help defense, but doesn’t close out shooters well. More poor, unseasoned defenders is not something that should be high on the Pistons wish list right now.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

Hill is a versatile leader who can handle the ball, pass, knock down a perimeter shot and score in the post. He is averaging 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game and has improved his perimeter shooting while knocking down free throws at the highest rate of his career (81 percent).

DraftExpress:

In addition to his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, Hill also possesses a sound floor game. He lacks the dynamic ball-handling ability and speed to consistently create shots from the perimeter and is not the type of player who can dominate games with his ability to consistently get to the rim in isolation or pick and roll situations, but he is an opportunistic slasher who can take what defenders give him both in the half court and transition with powerful straight-line drives. With his superior strength and maturity, he can often overpower weaker opponents en route to the basket, which is a big reason he’s able to get to the free throw line at the rate he does.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Ricky Ledo

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 197 pounds, freshman guard from Providence
  • Key Stats: N/A – academically ineligible
  • Projected: Late first/early second round

Random Fact

Ledo was one of the top high school players in the country, but didn’t play as a freshman at Providence after he was ruled academically ineligible. Projections from where he might go in this draft have ranged from late lottery to the second round. I liked our own Dan Feldman’s take on Ledo in a conversation with Matt Dery on Twitter:

It’s hard to ignore a talent like Ledo’s in the second round, where it’s really unlikely the Pistons or any team are going to get rotation players, let alone someone with star potential. If he’s there at 37, I think the Pistons have to consider him.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Skill-wise, Ledo is a prototypical shooting guard. He can hit from outside, he’s big for a guard, he can take players off the dribble and he can finish. Ledo has been plagued by the dreaded and vague ‘off-court concerns’ label since arriving at Providence, but Chad Ford offered a promising comparison to another talented but troubled prep star — Lance Stephenson. The Pacers took Stephenson in the second round and had to be incredibly patient with him as he matured, but ultimately, it worked out well for them and they now have an improving starter and one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Are the Pistons patient? The approach they used with Andre Drummond suggests that things might be changing in that respect, but the Pistons as an organization don’t exactly have a great track record of nurturing the players who arrive as rookies and can be described as ‘projects.’ I’m convinced Ledo can succeed in the NBA and I’m convinced that there are teams with the proven organizational structure to give him the support he needs. I’m not convinced the Pistons are one of those organizations. But if Ledo is around at 37, I wouldn’t fault them for trying to be one of those organizations. The payoff for getting it right on a raw talent like Ledo is far too enticing to pass up.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

Ledo was one of the country’s best high school scorers in 2011-12, but he wasn’t able to showcase his talents after being ruled academically ineligible by the NCAA. Still, a number of GMs believe he could be a late-first-round steal.

DraftExpress:

Ledo was inconsistent in Chicago, looking very good on the first day and then coming down to earth a bit in the second. His shooting was hit or miss, but his talent-level with the ball in his hands was unmistakable in terms of his able to create shots smoothly for himself and others at 6-7. He’s clearly a good athlete and ball-handler, mixing in crossovers nicely and finishing above the rim on a couple of occasions. Defensively, Ledo has a ways to go and is probably a long-term project considering how little experience he brings to the table, but his upside is significantly higher than most of the prospects outside of the top-20 or 25, which could convince a team to roll the dice on him, despite the character concerns.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: C.J. Leslie

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-9, 200 pounds, junior forward from NC State
  • Key Stats: 15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game; 52 percent shooting.
  • Projected: Second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

Hey, this guy sounds familiar. Here is what I wrote about him last year before he decided against entering the draft:

Leslie’s tantalizing size and athleticism will surely make NBA teams fall in love with him. But his perimeter game, which is still in need of some refinement, might push him into being a second round pick despite having first round athleticism.

Leslie was considered a fringe first round pick last season in a deeper draft. If he’s around in the second round this season, he’d be tough for the Pistons to pass up.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Adding Leslie to a team that already features Andre Drummond would immediately make the Pistons give the Pistons two of the best freak athletes in the league. At a minimum, Leslie runs well, jumps well and finishes well. If they play faster under Maurice Cheeks (please play faster!), and if they bring back Jose Calderon or replace him with a similarly good passing point guard, the Pistons would be really fun to watch with a player like Leslie added to the mix. He’d surely get the team easy baskets and highlight reel plays, which could earn him more minutes as he works on the weaker points of his game.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

It’s not that Leslie didn’t improve this season, it’s just that he didn’t make the huge leap many expected. He returned to NC State after a promising sophomore season, but he and the team largely disappointed. Leslie’s three-point percentage did improve slightly (though he doesn’t shoot many), but there were only very small incremental increases in his overall counting stats despite playing more minutes. I touched on it in the Glen Rice Jr. profile yesterday, but playing in the NCAA for programs that lack structure often stunts the growth of elite prospects. Perhaps Leslie getting into a pro environment that holds him to higher standards will bring out the best in him. The Pistons were patient with Drummond last season (probably too patient), but that approach might work well for another super talented but sometimes underachieving prospect in Leslie.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

Leslie’s terrific athletic numbers reminded scouts he might be one of the three or four best athletes in the draft and alleviated fears that he wouldn’t have the lateral quickness to guard shooting guards in the NBA. His combine-best 10.19-second score on the lane agility drill, combined with a huge vertical leap and a big wingspan, have teams curious. If he can go into workouts and shut down the other small forwards in the workouts, he’s going to be a lock for the first round.

DraftExpress:

On a personal level, many of the questions that hounded Leslie during his first two seasons remain. The lanky 6’9″ combo forward maintains a very intriguing physical package, with good length and incredible athletic gifts. His physical profile remains the basis of his intrigue as a draft prospect, and should he develop his skills, show a strong work ethic and maintain his focus, there’s more than ample physical talent to play a long time at the next level. It’s utilizing this physical talent that Leslie has struggled with.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Nate Wolters

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, senior guard from South Dakota State
  • Key Stats: 22.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists per game on 49 percent shooting.
  • Projected: Second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

Nate Wolters is the reason that people love college basketball. He was a normal looking dude at a mid-major college (with one of the best team names in the country — the Jackrabbits) who just got buckets, as evidenced performances like this one:

“Good grief!” his father, Roger, wrote him after South Dakota State’s 80-74 win over IPFW on Thursday night in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Wolters scored a Division I-best 53 points and connected on a school-record nine three-pointers. The 6-4 guard went 9 for 14 from beyond the arc, 17 for 28 overall and 10 for 11 at the free-throw line.

“I didn’t realize how many I had until after the game, it’s tough to explain. I was definitely feeling it,” Wolters said by phone late Thursday night. “The scoring came in such a barrage at the end. When I heard it was 53, I was like ‘whoa.’ “

Fits with the Pistons because …

With the first of their second round picks, the Pistons would do well to come away with Wolters if they don’t end up taking Trey Burke or C.J. McCollum in the first round. Wolters was certainly a shoot-first guard in college, but that’s OK. He was good at it. Aside from a weird junior year where his three-point shooting dipped significantly, Wolters was 36 percent or better from three in each of his three other college seasons. He’s also a decent passer who took good care of the ball and, at 6-4, he has good size for the point guard position.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

It’s still unclear what the Pistons are actually looking for in their backcourt. Is Brandon Knight a one or a two or a sixth man who plays both? Are they re-signing Jose Calderon and Will Bynum? What are they going to do with Rodney Stuckey, who Maurice Cheeks seemed to like for some reason during his introductory press conference? I think many fans wouldn’t mind seeing the Pistons blow up the entire backcourt and start from scratch in the draft and free agency, but the team has given indications that some or all of last year’s guard crop could be back in the mix. If that’s the case, there probably won’t be minutes for a player like Wolters.

Also, his clear deficiency is defense. He’s strong and physical, but will probably struggle to stay in front of the league’s quicker guards.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

Wolters doesn’t play in a big conference (Summit League), but his huge numbers for the second straight season can’t be overlooked. He also has been pegged primarily as a scoring guard, but his 6.1 assists per game and nearly 3-1 assist-to-turnover ratio prove that he’s more than just a scorer.

DraftExpress:

On the offensive end, Wolters proved to be one of the most productive players in all of college basketball as a senior, displaying an impressive all around skill set, as his combination of ballhandling skills, scoring instincts, and feel for the game made him very difficult to defend at the college level.

On Film:

Previously: