I was really excited that Pistons rookies Kim English and Khris Middleton got a chance at extended minutes for a few games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants last week. I was even more excited when both played well.
But then I got a little less excited. The Pistons have a history of sending second round guys to the D-League, seeing them do well there, then returning to the NBA and still getting minimal or no minutes. That was more understandable in the days when they were winning. These last couple seasons, though? Far, far less understandable. This was my topic in today’s column for the Detroit Free Press:
In the earlier days, for players like (Amir) Johnson and (Alex) Acker, that was excusable. The Pistons were busy contending for titles, so the rotation was set and teams in that position typically don’t spend a lot of time giving big minutes to second round picks in an effort to develop them.
Things have changed significantly, though. The Pistons missed an opportunity with (Vernon) Macklin, a player who showed promise in the extremely limited minutes he received last season and even more promise in his D-League stint. Then, at the end of the season, because they never gave him a chance at regular minutes even after that D-League stint, the Pistons were left not really knowing whether Macklin could develop into a useful player and he was eventually squeezed off the roster.
The likelihood of Macklin, or any second-round pick for that matter, turning into a rotation caliber player is low just based on the odds. Few second-round picks make it. But a rebuilding team like the Pistons can’t afford to look for talent and assets in every possible place.
They blew an opportunity with Macklin last season by not stretching out his minutes at any point during a lost season. Hopefully, they don’t do the same with English and Middleton this season.