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Category → Draft Dreams

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:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Brandon Paul

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, senior guard from Illinois
  • Key Stats: 16.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists per game on 40 percent shooting.
  • Projected: Late second round
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

Brandon Paul is doing a cool thing during his draft party. According to the Chicago Tribune, he’s auctioning off some of his college memorabilia … except for one thing:

It seems Paul is banking on good news. He was planning a party with fans in his hometown of Gurnee for Thursday night after the draft, when he said he will raffle off and give away autographed gear. (Though he said he would keep his orange shoes from his 43-point performance against Ohio State as a junior.)

Fits with the Pistons because …

For better or worse, Brandon Paul is a prototypical Joe Dumars guard. He’s big and strong, he’s versatile and has given minutes in college both in a playmaking role and as a traditional scoring guard and he’s reasonably athletic, drawing comparisons with Dwyane Wade coming out of high school because of his build and ability to finish while absorbing contact. The Pistons certainly need help in the backcourt and, depending on what they do with free agent Will Bynum and possible trade bait Rodney Stuckey, they could have a need for a guard who can attack the rim.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Paul doesn’t fill the two most immediate backcourt needs, however. He’s not a point guard and he’s not a great three-point shooter. Paul shot just 33 percent from three each of the last two seasons and his shot selection at Illinois was occasionally questionable. That’s partially attributable to playing for bad teams that needed him to score, but if Stuckey isn’t traded and/or Bynum is re-signed, those two along with Brandon Knight give the team three low-efficiency, shoot-first guards. That’s probably already too many, so adding a fourth wouldn’t seem to be the best way to fill out their guard depth.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

Paul came in as a freshman at Illinois hyped as a poor man’s Dwyane Wade. Blessed with great athleticism and length, many scouts thought he’d be a dynamic scorer at Illinois. He’s had his moments (including a 43-point game against Ohio State last season), but he’s been inconsistent. What a difference a new head coach makes. John Groce has opened up the offense and put the ball in Paul’s hands, and suddenly, he looks like a legit NBA prospect again.

DraftExpress:

The key to Paul’s productivity over the past two seasons, and one of his more intriguing qualities as an NBA prospect, is his ability to create his own shot. Possessing a quick first step, an explosive burst when attacking off the dribble, and a strong frame to exploit smaller guards, Paul can shake defenders one-on-one and turn the corner operating off ball screens. He’s a capable ball-handler, even running the point for stretches this season, but has room to improve on not over-dribbling and become more adept at playing at different speeds to help prepare for the quickness of NBA defenders.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Alex Len

Info

  • Measurables: 7-foot-1, 255 pounds, sophomore center from Maryland.
  • Key Stats: 11.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks per game on 53.4% shooting.
  • Projected: Lottery pick
  • Hickory High Similarity Score

Random Fact

Len struggled a lot when moving from Ukraine to America to play basketball for Maryland. One of the funniest things he did was asking his barber for a buzz cut because he didn’t know how to ask for anything else. He also needed to use a translator to order rotisserie chicken from Boston Market at one point because he couldn’t speak English.

Len’s first name isn’t Alex, either, it’s Olexiy. Once he moved to America, however, he changed it to Alex so it was easier for people to understand.

Fits with the Pistons because …

The Pistons have Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond filling out their front court, but Alex Len could come in and be the team’s third big since, as of right now the other big man on the Pistons bench is Viacheslav Kravtsov, who I love, but not because he’s good at basketball. Bringing in Len would be a huge relief for Monroe and Drummond, as they can’t play 48 minutes every game. Len could be a huge contributor off the bench and it could even help himself develop at a slower pace than being thrown right into a team’s system.

He’s also one of the few big men in this draft that is a stellar defender. He has a 7-foot-1 body with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and he uses that to his advantage. Drummond and Monroe are still developing as defenders (though Drummond’s shot-blocking makes him much further along), so Len will help that cause.

Len’s also a pretty good outside shooter for a seven-footer. Although he puts the ball on the floor at a fairly frequent rate, the upside of his shooting is the trade off you get.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

Well, there’s a flip side to this whole thing. Len is a big man, and that’s where the Pistons don’t need as much help as they do in their backcourt. Len entered the draft early and may not get optimal playing time in Detroit as opposed to if he goes to another team that needs him more. Obviously, there could be a jam with three really talented big men all wanting adequate playing time when not all three of them can have it.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

I spent some time this week with a number of international scouts who all had the same question for me: Why isn’t Len in the mix to be the No. 1 pick? If you watched a lot of Maryland games, you already know the answer, but the scouts’ perspectives were interesting. In international play Len was dominant, but if someone like Jonas Valanciunas had played in Maryland’s system, it’s likely that his numbers would’ve been better than Len’s. While I doubt that Len will get the nod over Noel (unless there are more complications with his ACL), I could see teams that are desperate for a big man taking Len at No. 2 or No. 3. Virtually every team in the mix for Noel could end up having Len as Plan B on draft night if he has strong workouts.

DraftExpress:

Defensively, Len shows great potential with his size, long arms and mobility, but is still somewhat of a work in progress at this stage. On one hand he shows the ability to hedge screens out on the perimeter thanks to his quick feet and excellent agility, stepping out and recovering back to protect the rim and being difficult to shoot over thanks to his excellent length. On the other hand, his intensity-level leaves something to be desired at times, as he doesn’t always get a hand up on opponents, can be lackadaisical running the floor, and will give up deep post position inside the paint, allowing himself to get schooled by more experienced opponents.

On Film:

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Deshaun Thomas

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, junior guard from the Ohio State University.
  • Key Stats: 19.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists; shot 45 percent from the field and 34 percent from 3-point range.
  • Projected: Second round.
  • Hickory High similarity score

Random Fact

Deshaun Thomas was always kind of “the other guy” in his time at Ohio State, playing in the shadows of Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft. That’s nothing against him, he’s just a guy who may like to keep to himself?

As Dan wrote over at Pro Basketball Talk last month Thomas was asked by the San Antonio Spurs for his cell phone number. One would assume any fringe prospect trying to do anything they can to impress a team would readily hand over their phone number, email address, AIM screen name, whatever.

Well, apparently that’s not Deshaun’s game because the Ohio State swingman declined to give the Spurs his number because “I can’t go around giving it out to everyone … now if they want to draft me, I’d be happy to give it to them.”

think he was joking, but either way, is that really a smart move? You’re a prospect trying to get drafted into the NBA as high as possible (potentially in this case while talking to the best-run organization in the league) and you’re going to deny them like an ugly girl at a party?

Again, he could just be joking, but regardless, it’s not a great look. But hey, if basketball doesn’t work out he can maybe give baseball a try. Ok, just kidding, maybe he should stick to hoops.

Fits with the Pistons because …

As we’ve seen from this spring’s playoffs, teams that can score from the wings do well. Whether you’ve got a guy off the bench who can score — like, say, Thomas — or a star scorer in the starting lineup, having a consistent source of offense from the perimeter is a nessecity in today’s NBA.

That’s why Thomas makes sense for the Pistons. They have no consistent offensive threats from those wing positions. Throughout his tenure at Ohio State, Thomas found a way to modify his offensive game. The scorer that teamed with Jared Sullinger relied on a little mid-post offense and a lot of mid-range jumpers, which are something of a rarity in the league today.

The Thomas we saw this year scored a lot, mostly on jumpers, but he found a way to create his own offense. The Pistons have very few wing players, specifically at small forward, who can do that. He’s got athleticism, and he’s got some strength, but he’s kind of a tweener.

However, I feel like there are some tweener traits that actually help a guy when he gets to the NBA. If you can shoot, score and run the break, you’ll at least have a chance. I don’t think he’s as bad with the ball in terms of creating off the dribble as some say, either.

His game just feels like it fits the NBA style of play. Lots of jumpers, getting up and down the court, being able to rebound well for his position. I never liked Jared Sullinger as a prospect, and I said then that I thought Thomas was the best pro on that Final Four team.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

You want defense from that small forward spot, too, right? Well, that’s not going to be a strength of Thomas. He’s apathetic to say the least. He floats around and might struggle against the faster wing forwards in the NBA.

There’s also the character questions, mainly with his work ethic. In order for Thomas to be a successful player in this league, he’ll have to work on his game from the perimeter. Does he want to do that? Does he want to just shoot jump shots and play between the 3-point lines?

He’s kind of stuck in an awkward spot as a second-round prospect. Arizona State’s Carrick Felix and NC State’s CJ Leslie are both similar guys that will be around when the Pistons pick at No. 37. All are limited forwards who either can’t shoot (Leslie, Felix) or can’t defend wing players (Leslie, Thomas).

His closest Hickory High similarity comparison is Jon Leuer, if you’re into that thing.

You’re getting a very one-dimensional player in Thomas, but if that’s what you’re looking for, he may be a fit as a guy to have on your bench early on.

From the experts …

Chad Ford:

Thomas is an elite scorer who can do damage near the basket or on the perimeter. But he make scouts a little wary because of his lack of elite athletic ability, he’s a ‘tweener stuck between the 3 and the 4 and his indifference on the defensive end. He can put the ball in the bucket, but they’ll want to see more than that if he’s going to be a first-round prospect. He’s a bubble first-rounder right now, in the 25-40 range.

DraftExpress:

The main question regarding Thomas’s NBA potential is what position he can defend effectively. His versatile offensive game affords him some flexibility on that end of the floor, but his lack of footspeed for a three, size and length for a four, and overall consistency on the defensive end are troubling.

On film

Previously:

Detroit Pistons #DraftDreams: Glen Rice Jr.

Info

  • Measurables: 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, small forward from the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers via Georgia Tech
  • Key Stats: 13.0 points, 1.9 assists, 6.2 rebounds per game; shot 49 percent overall and 39 percent from three-point range
  • Projected: Second round

Random Fact

I’m rooting for Glen Rice Jr. to succeed in the NBA for several reasons, not least of which is his father is one of the greatest players the state of Michigan has ever produced. But aside from the fact that Rice Jr. has a famous dad who I loved watching, aside from the fact that he’s a great redemption story after getting kicked off of Georgia Tech’s team, he also represents a chance to bust the myth that the NCAA should not be automatically considered the best proving ground for NBA players.

Rice was an elite prospect in high school. He went to a middling (or some would say bad) program at Georgia Tech. He got into trouble off the court — telling Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress he was hanging out with the wrong crowds and wrong people. Rice spent three years at Georgia Tech, was undisciplined and, although he certainly wasn’t a bad player, he also didn’t look like a legit NBA prospect before he was kicked out of the program.

In the D-League with Rio Grande, Rice matured both as a player and a person. He was held to standards expected of NBA athletes. He had to earn his way into the rotation on a good team. And ultimately, he led that team to a championship with an amazing playoff performance — averaging 25 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game for Rio Grande in their playoff run.

The right college program can do wonders for players with professional aspirations. But going to a program that doesn’t help a player grow personally or athletically can also be detrimental. Rice’s problems at Georgia Tech were attributable to his own questionable decision-making, but once he got into an environment that was structured and expected him to be disciplined and committed and held him to that standard, he thrived. That’s certainly possible in the NCAA with some programs. But Rice could also shed light on the fact that the D-League could also prove to be a viable alternative for players with pro aspirations who might not be getting what they need from a college program.

Fits with the Pistons because …

Rice, who is projected to go in the early second round, has skills that would be great fits for the Pistons. He’s a strong, athletic wing player and he inherited his father’s sweet shooting stroke. He’s also a good rebounder and strong enough to become a quality NBA defensive player.

Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …

The Pistons do have other recent second round prospects at small forward who have shown varying levels of promise in Kyle Singler and Khris Middleton. If the Pistons are sold on either or both of those players as potential rotation players next season, adding a third second round prospect at the same position who needs minutes to develop is probably out of the question. Also, after initial excitement about Rice’s potential based on his D-League playoff run boosted his stock, his so-so performance at the combine cooled it some.

Still, if Rice is available when the Pistons pick in the second round, he’s the only non-international prospect in this draft who is proven at the professional level. Increasingly, D-League players have made positive contributions to NBA teams, so his production for Rio Grande is a definite major selling point to give him a look.

From the Experts:

Chad Ford:

We put Rice in our top 30 several months ago after he started getting more minutes in the D-League and broke loose. It wasn’t a fluke. Rice led the Rio Grande Vipers to the D-League championship, scoring 25 PPG in the finals. He’s a bit of a tweener, but he has NBA athleticism, can really shoot the basketball and is an excellent rebounder for his size. Most importantly, in the D-League he excelled at a high level among elite college players and former NBA rotation guys.

DraftExpress:

Like his father, Rice’s most attractive skill lies in his jump-shot, which he’s honed into an extremely dangerous weapon as of late. Only shooting 30 and 33% from beyond the arc as a sophomore and junior at Georgia Tech, Rice has been absolutely deadly this season from the perimeter for the Vipers, making 39% of his overall attempts on the season, despite having to transition to the much further NBA 3-point line that the D-League plays with. He’s deadly with his feet set and is capable of coming off screens or shooting off the dribble, showing consistent mechanics, a quick release, and deep range, sometimes making shots from a few feet beyond the NBA line even, and looking effortless when doing so.

On film:

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