Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, Patrick and I will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. In the days leading up to the draft, we’re going to discuss what the Pistons could/should/might/should not do with each of their three picks.
For each 3-on-3, we’ll be joined by a guest contributor. Today as we discuss the 39th pick, that’s Thom (not Tom) Powell. Thom is a Pistons fan who writes for DigitalRefrain.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Please add your responses in the comments.
Dan Feldman: Drew Gordon. Joe Dumars has taken plenty of calculated risks in the second round. Some of turned out well (Amir Johnson), and others have not (Walter Sharpe). Needing more interior players, the Pistons could take a swing at Gordon — as long as Dumars believes Gordon’s troubles at UCLA were either overblown or behind him.
Patrick Hayes: I would guess they will look hard at taking one of three big men — Kyle O’Quinn, Miles Plumlee or Drew Gordon. If all three are on the board, that’s the order I’d rank them. Joe Dumars and Lawrence Frank have both alluded to a need to get not only better defensively up front, but also tougher. O’Quinn and his many scowls meet that need and would be a welcome addition to a team that currently has too many guys who seem nice and easy-going.
Thom Powell: It’s tough to say, just because it will be contingent on a number of other factors — who the Pistons take at nine, whether a first round prospect falls, etc. — and because the 2nd round is generally more unpredictable than the first. Draft Express has the Pistons taking Jared Cunningham (SG, Oregon St.) and I do think that’s a genuine possibility. If the Pistons take a big like John Henson or Meyers Leonard at nine, I could see them taking a two guard to groom for Ben Gordon‘s inevitable departure. Cunningham’s major strength (getting to the free throw line) is very similar to Rodney Stuckey‘s and while he played in a pretty weak Pac-12, it was still a major conference with steeper competition than most mid-major prospects faced. Cunningham is just one possibility at guard, though. Guys like Tony Wroten (if he falls), Scott Machado and Doron Lamb are all potential options. I could also see the Pistons adding another big for depth purposes, too. If Detroit takes Henson, they could also add someone like Miles Plumlee to add a bit more size and strength to the front court, given Henson’s slender frame.
2. Which realistic target at pick 39 would make the best pick?
Dan Feldman: Jared Sullinger. Maybe I’m dreaming – and it would probably take a trade up to get him — but I’m still holding out hope that Sullinger falls this far. After seeing how general managers let DeJuan Blair fall three years ago, I can maybe convince myself to believe they’re that foolish. (Or wise, because, despite my wishes, they were right to let Wayne Simien fall in 2005 due to his injury issues. But let’s not talk about that. Blair 2.0!) As far as players more likely to be there, like everyone else, I like Scott Machado and Jae Crowder.
Patrick Hayes: Jae Crowder. Of course, this could change if the Pistons end up taking a perimeter player in the lottery. But assuming they don’t, Crowder fills a need for toughness and athleticism on the perimeter. He’s athletic, strong, plays extremely hard and it’s easy to see him playing productive minutes in relief of Tayshaun Prince immediately.
Thom Powell: I’ve been on the Kyle O’Quinn bandwagon since Norfolk State upset Missouri and I have no intention of getting off it anytime soon. He’s a tough, physical big, and an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker whose timing and seven-foot-five wingspan should translate well to the NBA game. His rebounding and shot-blocking alone should make him an upgrade over Jason Maxiell, but his offensive game is equally intriguing. O’Quinn was a very efficient scorer at Norfolk State, notching 16 points per game on only 10 shots a night, shooting 57 percent from the field, and averaging over six free throw attempts per contest. He averaged a paltry 18.8 percent from behind the three point line, but still has excellent range on his jumper and has the potential to expand his range even further with some work. I could see him being off the board before the 39th pick — most likely at the hands of a savvy franchise like San Antonio — but most mocks have O’Quinn being taken around or after where the Pistons draft.
3. Which realistic target at pick 39 would make the worst pick?
Dan Feldman: Hollis Thompson. He might look like an NBA player when you examine his size and fluidity, but he hasn’t consistently played with the intensity to prove he can compete. I’d let someone else chance that he develops it.
Patrick Hayes: Will Barton. It’s nothing against Barton — I think he has a chance to develop into a solid player somewhere. But he’s a young player who needs some refinement to his game, and as we saw last year, Lawrence Frank‘s security blanket, aka Prince, makes it easy for Frank to justify not playing mistake-prone young wings with upside. A more polished, experienced wing like Crowder, Doron Lamb or John Jenkins would stand a better chance at earning minutes right away than a raw player in need of development.
Thom Powell: Bernard James posted some intriguing numbers during his senior season at Florida State and his measurables are solid. The problem is that he’s already 27. That’s the same age, coincidentally, as a recent NBA champion who happens to share his last name. I liked what I saw from Vernon Macklin, another old rookie, last season, but James faces the same issue that frustrated me with Macklin: a lack of playing time. It doesn’t make sense to draft a guy in their mid to late twenties and sit them, mainly because they don’t have much upside at that point in their career. Either James contributes immediately or it’s a wasted pick. Is it worth taking a guy who’ll be 30 in three seasons if you’re not 100 percent sure he can contribute immediately? If the Pistons wouldn’t give Macklin any burn last year — despite solid production, albeit in limited minutes — I’d hate for them to make the same mistake with another second rounder who’s already a year older than him.