Player Preview: DaJuan Summers

DaJuan Summers (Sports Illustrated)


Position: Small forward/ power forward

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 240 pounds

Years pro: Rookie

From: Georgetown


Summers is buried on the bench right now. He’ll probably be inactive to start the season. I see a lot of D-League games for him this year.

Scouting report

Will: Score in many ways.

He can make jumpers, drive against bigger defenders and post up smaller threes. He will be a tough matchup (if he cracks the rotation).

Among the 13 small forwards drafted this year, Summers had the second-best true shooting percentage (via DraftExpress).

Won’t: Produce if Kuester decides to slow the tempo.

In a good interview with Dan Steinberg on the D.C. Sports Bog, Summers said his strong summer league play didn’t surprise him.

Did you come in with that kind of chip on your shoulder, to prove the kind of player you know you are?

Not so much. I mean, I always knew I was that player, so just because things were different in college–it’s not an open system and not a high-tempo team–it never discouraged me. I knew when I got here I would be able to play my game. Coach always said the same thing. It’s just not the run and shoot we play at Georgetown. So nah, I don’t feel like I’m proving anybody wrong. It’s just me. I’m just playing.

Must improve: His focus.

Summers has an NBA body. But he doesn’t lock in and get the little things done that he clearly could be capable of doing.

Among the 13 small forwards drafted this year, here’s how Summers’ ranked last season*:

Rebounds: 13th.

Assists: 11th.

Turnovers: 12th.

Summers has the tools to improve all those. He just needs to put his mind to it.

*The numbers are per 40 minutes and paste adjusted – basically a way to put everyone on equal footing – and also come from DraftExpress.



Summers was the star of the Pistons’ summer league team, if not the entire Las Vegas League.

But he has missed two of Detroit’s six preseason games. And only Chucky Atkins, Deron Washington and Maceo Baston are averaging fewer minutes.

With Tayshaun Prince’s injury, maybe Summers sees some minutes as the backup small forward. But even with Prince out, Jonas Jerebko and Richard Hamilton might see more time filling in at the three than Summers.

Three predictions

1. It will be at least a month before Summers dresses for a game.

From The Oakland Press:

Kuester downplayed Summers’ struggles and said Summers has shown flashes in practice.

“DaJuan is learning as he goes,” Kuester said. “I tell you this, he has a bright, bright future in this league because he’ll continue to work hard and he’s a great kid. Do not read into that at all.”

Sorry, John. I’m going to read into it. I think Kuester wants to keep Summers’ spirits up when the rookie is buried on the bench for the first time in his life.

Summers really hasn’t done much to that kind of deserve praise.

2. Summers will never post better numbers than he did in the summer league (18 points and 5.4 rebounds per game).

Not in the summer league next year, not in a preseason and certainly not in a regular season. Summers was clearly on a hot streak in Las Vegas.

His preseason struggles suggest the summer league was an aberration. And even if he develops into a pretty good player, those are some gaudy numbers.

3. Summers will be one of the 2009 draft’s better second-round picks.

I liked Summers a good deal coming into the draft. But he didn’t seem good enough for the Pistons to take him at 15. And he seemed too good to slip into the second round.

But to the shock of many, including Joe Dumars, he was available for Detroit’s second pick. There’s a reason many projected him to go higher, and the summer league reinforces the thinking.

That said, being a fairly good second-round pick in a specific draft doesn’t mean much. He could be out of the league in a few years, and I could be right.

But I like his chances better than most of the other late picks.

For each of the Pistons’ new players, I want  get another voice (or more) besides my own into the previews – someone who has seen these players up close more than I have. I call this feature “in other words.”

In other words: Jeremy Hofmann

Jeremy Hofmann, a 2008 Georgetown graduate, analyzes Summers.

DaJuan Summers will be a very good professional basketball player. Let’s start right there. 

Will his LeBron-esque body and ferocious athleticism tantalize Pistons fans into expecting more than he can deliver? Absolutely.

That was the problem Georgetown fans had with DaJuan in his three maddening years on the Hilltop. He looks like he should be a star.

He is 6’8” 240 lbs with 25 foot range and a 40+ inch vertical leap. Yet, there were countless games in his three years where he seemed disinterested and would finish with a stat line like 2-9, 7 points, 2 rebounds and 4 fouls. 

DaJuan is to Georgetown fans what Vince Carter is to Nets or Raptors fans. A guy that settles for too many jumpers, barely makes an effort on the glass or defensive end, has one or two “wow” plays a game and leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth more times than not.

Still, I was absolutely shocked that he slipped to #35 in the draft, especially in a draft like 2009. Even DeMarre Carroll went ahead of him. DeMarre Carroll?

DaJuan was projected as a near lottery pick after his freshman year. Even in January of this year, when Georgetown was in the top 10, DaJuan was expected to be a lottery pick. The only reason he slipped so far was because of the Hoyas’ pathetic end to its 2008-2009 campaign.

Being a second round pick will end up being the best thing that ever happened to DaJuan’s career and will greatly benefit the Pistons. NBA athletes with questionable motors need slights to prove their worth.

Just like previous second round picks of the same mold – Gilbert Arenas, Carlos Boozer and Rashard Lewis come to mind – DaJuan will use his draft position to prove himself for his entire NBA career. He will never forget the feeling of having his family and friends with him in the ESPN Zone in Baltimore waiting for 34 names to be called before his.

Both his performance in the summer league, when he was arguably Detroit’s best player, and his “I’m going to prove everyone wrong through cliché rap lyrics” on his Twitter page tell me that for the first time in his life, DaJuan’s work ethic will finally match his prodigious athleticism.

Previous player previews

Deron Washington

Jonas Jerebko

I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I’m way behind on the previews. There were some sudden changes at my job, and I’ve been pretty busy.

The new plan is to only profile the Pistons’ newcomers. So, previews will still be coming for Chris Wilcox, Austin Daye, Ben Wallace, Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon.

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