1. Which available player should the Pistons have chosen?
Patrick Hayes: Pierre Jackson or Nate Wolters. I like the Mitchell pick – it’s great value getting him there if they can help him mature – but there’s also a chance Mitchell doesn’t pan out, and I think Wolters and Jackson are both rotation point guards in the NBA. Jackson could easily step into the instant offense/pace-pushing role Will Bynum has played well in and Wolters would add another elite 3-point shooter to the perimeter attack.
Dan Feldman: Tony Mitchell. I liked Pierre Jackson, Nate Wolters and Jamaal Franklin, and all three of them would have been safer picks. But Mitchell’s upside is very intriguing. If the Raptors had taken Andre Drummond and Mitchell had entered last year’s draft, he very well could have been Detroit’s pick at No. 9. Despite how much he struggled last season, Mitchell has very high upside, and I definitely expected him to be off the board.
Brady Fredericksen: Mitchell might have been the best selection. I like Jamaal Franklin a lot, but he doesn’t really help the Pistons’ floor spacing and shooting woes. Ricky Ledo would also have been a possibility, but do the Pistons have the capabilities/desire to create a support system for the most troubled prospects in the draft? Pierre Jackson would have been solid, too.
2. How do you grade the selection?
Patrick Hayes: B-. If Mitchell pans out, he’s going to be an incredible pick. But there’s a reason someone with a lottery skillset went in round two. Whether or not Mitchell works out in the long-term, I don’t expect him to contribute much this season. I think Wolters and Jackson both would’ve been good bets to crack the rotation as rookies.
Dan Feldman: A. The Pistons forgave Khris Middleton’s final season at Texas A&M because there was a lot of disarray around him. I questioned that logic, because I didn’t believe Middleton had shown enough during better times to prove there was a solid foundation beneath the sloppy exterior. Mitchell has shown promise Middletown never approached. A team in the Pistons’ position, especially considering they traded a future first-round pick to the Bobcats, have only so many chances to acquire potentially elite players. Mitchell is well worth the risk.
Brady Fredericksen: B. There are no question-free prospects in the second round — they’re all there for a reason. Mitchell has a mid-first round talent, and taking the best player available in the second round is the way to go. He’s not going to be needed to do a whole lot this season — and he can bring a ton of energy and rebounding to the table off the bench — but if he can overcome his attitude issues, he’ll be a really nice pick.
3. Was his freshman or sophomore year more indicative of the player the Pistons are getting?
Patrick Hayes: Well, obviously the Pistons think it was his freshman year. It’s probably more in between, though. I don’t put much stock in the ‘disrespecting his coach’ talk that follows around a handful of college prospects. In all honesty, a lot of college coaches are not worth listening to if you’re a NBA prospect. I am concerned about the competition level Mitchell played against and the fact that the Pistons are currently trying to develop essentially a much better version of him in Andre Drummond. I’m not convinced they have the resources to devote the necessary time to both simultaneously.
Dan Feldman: Logic tells me the more recent season is more telling, but Kevin Pelton of ESPN has done plenty of research into this issue, and he’s found earlier seasons tend to better indicate pro production. I’m not thrilled by how Mitchell slumped through his sophomore season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a malcontent and out of the NBA shortly. But his freshman year was so good, it’s difficult to ignore.
Brady Fredericksen: I think it’s a mix of both. I don’t know how good or bad his attitude was at school, but it’s not uncommon for talented guys to have lapses when they’re substantially more talented than everyone else around. It’s hard to keep your focus without ever having the fire of being an underdog, and he’s going to have to work and be focused to have any shot in the NBA. Being around veterans who have experienced the rigors might be something that helps him in that regard.