Sorry loyal readers, I have to do it. I am rational enough to understand that Kalin Lucas is a longshot to get drafted. But with the obvious University of Michigan slant from certain PistonPowered writers, as a loyal MSU alum, I have to sneak Kalin into this series. It’s a holiday weekend. We’ll get back to more serious prospects on Monday, if you’ll be kind enough to indulge me today.
Measurables: 6-foot-0, 190 pounds, senior PG from Michigan State
Key stats: 17.0 points, 3.4 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field and 39 percent from three
Projected: Late second round to undrafted
How would he help the Pistons?
Lucas has point guard-like skills. At Michigan State, it was a stretch to call him a pass-first point guard. Lucas’s greatest strength in college was undoubtedly his ability to create scoring opportunities for himself. Because he’s not big or an explosive athlete, that will have to chance in the NBA if he makes it, either as a second round pick or a rookie free agent.
The positive though? I think he can change. The one thing he didn’t get enough credit for at Michigan State was his ability to take care of the ball. He had a low assist total, so his assist-to-turnover ratio never looked great, but his actual turnover percentage — ranging from 16 percent to 19 percent during his four seasons at MSU — wasn’t bad. He has a quick enough first step to draw extra defenders. The key for him if he’s to have pro success is learning to give the ball up when he creates those advantages off the dribble rather than trying to get all the way to the basket, since he’ll probably struggle to finish in the NBA.
His 3-point shot will help as well. His jumper improved throughout his college career, and because teams will have to step out and guard him, that should give him the opportunity to create some off the dribble. Lucas was a very good player at Michigan State who maybe didn’t improve as much as many thought he would when he was named Big Ten Player of the Year as a sophomore. But he still does some things very well, he improved, he bounced back nicely from a serious injury and remember, last season no one thought Manny Harris could play in the NBA either and he had an OK rookie season for a guy who wasn’t drafted.
How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?
The Pistons have a crowded backcourt already. They certainly don’t have an answer at the point guard position, but it’s unlikely they’ll find anyone in the second round or among rookie free agents who will be better than what they already have on the roster. Lucas has some things to learn about the position in order to carve out a NBA niche for himself. The Pistons are in need of impact players, not more role players, so even if Lucas had some believers among Pistons front office people, it’s unlikely that would be enough to earn a roster spot.
What are others saying?
As a creator off the dribble, Lucas may be somewhat limited at the NBA level due to his lack of elite explosiveness. While he does have a good top speed with the ball in his hands, he doesn’t possess a lightning-quick first step. He does however display a sense of craftiness and an understanding of how to use change of pace dribbles. He’s also comfortable as the ball-handler in pick-and roll situations, often making the correct reads, whether it’s a drive to the basket, a jumpshot for himself, or a pass to a teammate. When attacking the basket, Lucas does a good job of initiating contact and drawing fouls, but his lack of size and elevation often prevents him from finishing at the rim.
Can a relatively slow and small point guard make it in the NBA? And if so, how? That’s the question I have about Lucas, and the answer is in his favor.
Small point guards who do not excel athletically (unlike Brandon Jennings and Jonny Flynn, who are jets) must be great shooters if they hope to get drafted into the NBA and then stick around awhile. And I love what I see in Lucas’ shooting form. He has a slight right leg forward drift that can be problematic, though it’s not hard to fix that. But it’s an excellent and repeatable compact stroke, and he looks about the same on catch-and-shoots or off-the-dribble jumpers. He already looks like an NBA-level shooter.
Extremely secure ball handler and decision maker … Displays good court vision and knowledge of teammates positioning on the floor … Averaged 4.6 assists against only 2.2 turnovers last season for a 2.1 ratio … Prefers to attack the paint, using his strength, change of pace dribble and change of direction to get by defenders … Does his best work in transition where he is an absolute jet … Charges into the paint like a running back, yet still with controlled aggression … Does not get knocked off balance on drives, nor lose control of the rock. Gets to the FT line frequently
- Darius Morris
- Derrick Williams
- JaJuan Johnson
- Jeremy Tyler
- Perry Jones (Staying in school)
- Kemba Walker
- Nikola Vucevic
- Jimmer Fredette
- Kenneth Faried
- Isaiah Thomas
- Marcus Morris
- Ben Hansbrough
- Brandon Knight
- Keith Benson
- Donatas Motiejunas
- Shelvin Mack
- John Henson (Staying in school)
- Kyrie Irving
- Nolan Smith
- Bismack Biyambo
- Demetri McCamey
- Kyle Singler
- Enes Kanter