The Pistons’ long and illustrious history of drafting great people every year

In the wake of the Pistons drafting Brandon Knight, Kyle Singler and Vernon Macklin, my Google Reader has been full of articles praising the Pistons’ draft class for its character, work ethic, toughness, effort, leadership, intelligence, hustle, grit and competitiveness. Even more articles followed the introductory press conference.

You’d think the Pistons had never drafted a good person before.

Except they have. Every year, in fact. Apparently, Joe Dumars has ever drafted less than a stand-up individual. Now, maybe some of his draft picks have had issues in the past. But that was before the Pistons drafted them. At that point, their troubles were clearly behind them.

Don’t believe me? Look at what the Pistons said themselves each year of the Dumars era.

2000

Mateen Cleaves

Joe Dumars, via Chris McCosky of The Detroit News:

"His biggest asset is his leadership — and anybody who underestimates that (doesn’t) understand what’s going on. We need his toughness, his energy and his enthusiasm."

2001

Rodney White

A. Sherrod Blakely of MLive.com:

Dumars said earlier this week that, if push came to shove, talent would trump toughness on draft night.

He apparently got both in White.

Rick Carlisle, via McCosky:

"What we were told over and over was, he loves to play, he loves to work and be in the gym, he wants to get better and he wants to win. Those are the types of qualities Joe is looking for in the guys he brings to this team."

White, via McCosky:

"I am a hard worker and I think that’s what Joe Dumars was impressed with."

2002

Tayshaun Prince

Dumars, via Blakely:

"He knows how to carry himself, and that’s probably more than just basketball. That’s what four years of college has done for him. He’ll walk in here and know how to handle himself."

Dumars, via McCosky:

"The talent is evident, but in terms of development and whether a player will be a success or not, a great deal of that comes from what a person has within. … That’s why you hear me talking so much about what he possesses inside. He has a great foundation and a great background. This is the type of people we want to bring to the Detroit Pistons."

2003

Darko Milicic

Then-Pistons vice president of basketball operations John Hammond, via the Associated Press:

"I think this guy is extremely tough. He’s a fighter."

Dumars, via the Associated Press:

Dumars said he would be surprised if Milicic fails to handle the pressure, expectations and newfound riches in a foreign country.

"I’m telling you, he’s a different type of 18-year-old," Dumars said. "When you’re living through wars and you’ve been on your own in an apartment since you’re 14 years old, that tends to make you mature a lot faster."

2004

Rickey Paulding

Hammond:

“Rickey Paulding, knowing the kind of a man he is, the family that he comes from and the support that he’ll have, it’s great for him to be here.”

2005

Jason Maxiell

Pistons director of scouting George David, via Blakely:

"He was the toughest kid in the draft," said George David, Detroit’s director of scouting. "I don’t know if there was a kid that we thought would fit the mold of this team any better than that kid."

Dumars, via McCosky:

"When you are picking as far down as we were (26th overall) and with the type of team we have, the most critical thing becomes making sure you add somebody that fits into your culture and environment," Pistons president Joe Dumars said. "We feel this guy has the same DNA as the rest of the Pistons."

2006

Will Blalock

Dumars, via Peter May of The Boston Globe:

"Will has come in and played with toughness, confidence, and poise. He has fit in well here with our guys."

2007

Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo

Dumars, via Joanne C. Gerstner of The Detroit News:

"I feel very confident about these two young men," Dumars said. "These two guys are not about the hype. They’re not about all the sizzle, but they get it done.

"And that’s what I am looking for … they’ll represent toughness, they’ll represent Detroit well."

Dumars, via Blakely:

“We will continue to bring in young guys like this who are mature and mentally and physically ready to step on the floor and compete."

Arron Afflalo

Dumars, via McCosky:

"He’s a tough guy, a fighter, a guy who competes and is a winner. That’s what appealed to me," Dumars said of Afflalo.

2008

Walter Sharpe

Dumars, via Pistons.com via Dave Dial of MLive.com:

Dumars said he’s talked to "more people in Alabama than I care to remember" and is perfectly convinced Sharpe has a firm grip on his life now.

2009

Austin Daye

Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press on Dumars:

But he made it clear that he tabbed 6-foot-11 forward Austin Daye 15th overall not only for what he could do on the court, but also for what he won’t do away from the court. He won’t show up late on game days or late to the airport for flights. He won’t show up authority if he disagrees with a coaching decision.

"Never again will I allow us to be in a position where we’re dealing with issues, where we’re dealing with drama," said Dumars.

in choosing Daye, he sent a message that the Pistons need to correct a deficiency in attitude as well as an absence of pure talent.

Dumars, via McCosky:

"He is an extremely smart player and a very high character guy. We think he is a player who will represent the Pistons both on and off the court."

Dumars, via Blakely:

"Two things that I talked to my staff about as soon as the season was over," Dumars said. "We had to increase our talent base and I want character guys every time we take somebody from now on. With Austin Daye, we cover ourselves with both of those things."

2010

Greg Monroe and Terrico White

Dumars, via Langlois:

“I think what you’re also going to find out is two very humble, down-to-earth young guys, handle themselves extremely well, good guys, have their heads on straight.

“I think they’re going to make this organization proud, they’re going to make their family, their friends – everybody they represent – they’re going to make them proud. They’re going to make the Pistons proud on and off the court and that’s important to us.”

Greg Monroe

Perry, via Langlois:

“he’ll be a great teammate. The guy is about trying to win and do the right things. He’ll be a good representative for us on and off the court.”

“The kid came in in a suit and tie, was dressed as a professional already,” Perry said. “He looked everyone in the eye when he had an opportunity to answer questions. That wasn’t a surprise at all. In talking to (Georgetown) coach (John) Thomspon, too, he said he reminds me as a kid off the court of Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert – no maintenance at all. My having a personal relationship with Jeff Green” – Perry was assistant general manager in Seattle when the Sonics drafted Green in 2007 – “that resonates with me. I always tell people around here that Jeff is one of the best young men I’ve ever been around, whether in coaching or here in the NBA. When he said that, that spoke volumes.”

The point of this post

I’m not saying Knight, Singler and Macklin aren’t high-character individuals. They probably are.

But they have to prove that every day, not by having their new bosses vouch for them in a press conference.

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Tags: Austin Daye Brandon Knight Greg Monroe Jason Maxiell Jonas Jerebko Kyle Singler Rodney Stuckey Tayshaun Prince Terrico White Vernon Macklin

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