It’s that time of the year again as we prepare for the NBA Draft on Thursday. The Pistons have so many options with the 38th pick that they’ll be looking many directions to make their roster stronger for the 2014 campaign.
What I was taught as a kid is that if you want a job done right, you go to the Mafia.
In preparation of Thursday’s NBA Draft, we sat down with The Lottery Mafia‘s James Plowright to talk about the big three atop the draft, what the Hornets will do with the 9th overall pick, and what direction the Pistons could be going with the 8th pick of the second round:
PP: Your starting up a team and you have the first pick in the draft. Of the big three, what player are you starting your franchise with and why?
Plowright: Jabari Parker, and here’s why. Everyone talks about Parker being the most “NBA Ready” guy but seem to pair this with him to having a “low ceiling” with not much room for improvement. This bewilders me — just because Parker has a polished game doesn’t mean he won’t get any better. For his age and size he is incredibly skilled and more athletic than people think. Parker’s incredible attitude and ability to be a good teammate is also frequently forgotten about. He won’t be a blackhole but at the same time he will take over when he is needed to.
PP: The Hornets will select ninth thanks in part to the infamous Ben Gordon trade. It seems like Charlotte could really use a shooter or power forward if they feel they can’t resign Josh McRoberts. Of the players in play at number nine, who is the best fit?
Plowright: The funny thing about the Hornets and Pistons is they both need the exact same thing, shooting and bench depth, I see them running into each other a lot when chasing free agents this summer. As a Charlotte fan myself I have kept a very close eye on this situation. The major needs this offseason is a backup point guard, wing shooting and a backup center. Both Michael Jordan and Rich Cho have come out in the last few weeks talking about how valuable McRoberts is. I think he will be back at around 12-15 million over three years. In terms of the draft I have a hard time looking past Nik Stauskas. I know there have been a lot of “sources” linking Charlotte to McDermott and that is a real possibility, but for me Stauskas has to be the pick. Gerald Henderson doesn’t look like a good fit for the starting unit and Stauskas’ ballhandling/pick and roll skills would allow Kemba to play off the ball. Then there is his shooting… Oh what’s that, why has it gone dark? Oh yeah because Stauskas is lights out. Snap.
PP: Stan Van Gundy don’t have a pick in the first round, but it’s hard to believe that they would go into Thursday without a game plan. Could you see them trading back into the first round?
Plowright: It is hard to “plan” around the draft as there are just an unbelievable number of scenarios. Last year for example, the Cavaliers didn’t decide to take Anthony Bennett until the day of the draft, so how were the 29 other teams supposed to plan when they had no idea what was going on at the top? I think SVG will have a number of blue prints ready for draft night, but it could be that 15 minutes in they are left with a situation they didn’t plan for.
As far as trading back into the first round, it is always possible, especially when you have eight teams with multiple first round picks. With an entire new front office, I imagine the Pistons are a little bit behind the ball on the draft. Will they feel confident enough give up assets and trade into the draft without having firsthand experience of coaching his roster or of scouting prospects? I am not so sure, never say never, but I think it is more likely the Pistons sit tight, if they do make a deal it may be a smaller one such as buying a 2nd round pick.
PP: The Van Gundy draft past is very diverse and seems to focus on players that the staff believes they can mold into contributors. A lot of analysts suggest that Van Gundy will be looking for shooters no matter who is available. It’s a glaring need, but how much will it actually play into the draft process?
Plowright: I think when a team trades into the draft a lot of the time they are looking to fill need rather than just take whichever best talent falls to them. If Detroit doe make a move I think they would be targeting a shooter, in the first round. I would look at Rodney Hood, Gary Harris or Adreian Payne and in the second round C.J. Wilcox & Joe Harris.
PP: There is no doubt about the abundance of talent in this draft. It seems like you’d have to consider the first ten picks of the second round an extension of the first round. Do you think the Pistons could land a player with potential to start in the NBA with the 38th pick?
Plowright: So when reading this I looked at my most recent mock draft to see who I had going to the Pistons, believe it or not I had Joe Harris, the same guy I mentioned in the answer before! So yes, I definitely think you could class the 38th pick in this year’s draft as a late first rounder. I tend to agree that the players from 25-40 are not all that different.
PP: When it comes to 2nd round talent, who do you see as the best potential shooters?
Plowright: CJ Wilcox and Joe Harris are the big front runners, but if your looking for some guys who might go a little later than 38th — I like Nick Johnson, DeAndre Daniels and Jabari Brown. Johnson is probably the worst shooter in this group, but he still shot 37% from three at 4.5 attempts per game. However, I actually feel like he is a better all-around player, despite being undersized. He is a freak of an athlete, pair this with great character and leadership abilities and I see him having a solid NBA career.
PP: Cory Jefferson out of Baylor is an interesting prospect the Pistons recently invited to a workout. He seems to have a unique balance of talent and physical strength. Do you see him projecting into a true NBA talent?
Plowright: It looks to be 50/50 if Jefferson gets drafted. I have him going 59th in my final mock. Jefferson has the talent and physique to play in the NBA, but he has never played at a consistent enough level to really convince NBA personnel that he could be a solid role player. What a team wants in a 10 mpg guy is someone they can rely on every night to come in and be consistent, Jefferson isn’t that guy. However, if anyone can light a fire under him it is SVG. I think he would be a real reach at 38, but if the Pistons were to pick up another second rounder in the 45-60 range he could be in play.
Overall, Jefferson has the talent to be a late first round pick, if the Pistons feel confident that they can get the best out of him then he would certainly be worth a pick. Not many second rounders have his combination of size and skill, if he puts it together he could certainly be a real deep second round sleeper. However, in four years at Baylor he failed to do become the player most thought he could be, he is certainly a bit of a risk, but the reward could be tremendous.
PP: Does this draft have the firepower to rival the 2003 draft when it comes to amount of talent?
Plowright: I rate the 2014 draft higher than a lot of people. I have not been disappointed by it at all, saying that I still don’t see it beating the 2003 draft for talent. I think this draft might have a lot more people in the late first round who have good careers, and like I said earlier, the second round has a fantastic amount of talent. I don’t see it having four future hall of famers like 2003 though. However, just because it isn’t as strong as arguably the best draft of all time, people shouldn’t sour on it, there is a reason so many teams decided to tank last season.