For most of the 2000′s, Pistons general manager Joe Dumars was striking out in the draft. Besides Tayshaun Prince and Mehmet Okur in the 2001 and 2002 drafts, Dumars didn’t have another draft pick make an impact until Jason Maxiell in 2005.
He went another few drafts before Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo in 2007 – and not much in between – but in the last three years, he has done extremely well. Using the last few drafts, we’ll be taking a look at the Pistons young core of players and best-case projections for each. We’ve already looked at the team’s backcourt of Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey; up next is the Swedish sensation, Jonas Jerebko.
After a solid first season that saw him average 9.3 points, six rebounds, one steal and shoot 48%, en route to an NBA All-Rookie Second Team nod, Jerebko suffered a massive disappointment in the 2010-11 preseason. Going up for a rebound, he came down and strained his right Achilles’ tendon against the Miami Heat and missed the entire season.
He came back strong last season, playing in 64 of the team’s 66 games, but most of his numbers were down across the board. He is equally willing to shoot from outside as he is to venture into the paint, and with his 6’10” and 231 pound frame, he could become a dangerous stretch forward for the team. He has been described as a “tweener” for most of his professional career, so maybe he can embrace it fully in 2012.
Best-case scenario: Ryan Anderson
Much like Jerebko, Anderson experienced modest success in his first few seasons in the league. He averaged 7.5 points and four rebounds and shot 37% from three-point range in his first two years, splitting time between New Jersey and Orlando. He only started 35 games in those two years, though; he wouldn’t become a full-time starter until his final year in Orlando, 2011-12.
Once he did get starter’s minutes, however, he truly grew as a player. On his way to winning the 2011-12 Most Improved Player award, Anderson was at times the best player that Orlando had. He averaged 16.1 points and shot 39.3% from beyond the arc despite shooting nearly seven threes a game. He didn’t shy away from contact down low, however, as he corralled 7.7 rebounds last year, including almost four offensive boards a game. His defensive numbers (0.4 blocks, 0.8 steals) still leave much to be desired, and he’s never averaged more than 0.9 assists in a season, but Jerebko won’t be looked upon to be a facilitator.
With his ability to play both inside and out, in addition to his frame, Jerebko wouldn’t be too bad off in the NBA if he began to model his game after Anderson’s. If he can provide even a fraction of what Anderson did for the Magic last year, the Pistons will be much improved next year.