When it comes to scouting the NBA Draft and reviewing the Pistons play throughout the season, it doesn’t get much better than Six Championship Drive.
Whether it be scouting reports, mock draft, or his latest opinion on the Detroit Pistons — Kevin Alberda has done a great job of shedding the light on the Detroit Pistons as well as the 2014 NBA Draft.
So it was only natural to talk with Kevin as we get ready for the NBA Draft on Thursday. Kevin brings us insight on where the Pistons might be looking to improve their roster Thursday and what he hopes to see the Pistons address with the 38th Pick:
PP: It seems that as of late, that a lot of analysts think that the Pistons could target a small forward with the 38th pick. Or a Shooter to help spread the floor. They could also look for depth in the post in case they decide to part ways with Greg Monroe. Talent available will play a big role in their decision, but what type of player do you think the Pistons are targeting in the draft when it comes to position?
KA: I think, and I really hope, that they’re focused on finding a shooter at #38; whether it’s at SG or SF I think is less important thanks to the versatility of KCP and Singler. That should allow them to focus on talent as opposed to position. Shooting was a huge issue last season, as they were the 2nd worst three-point shooting team in the whole league, only in front of the woeful Sixers. Spreading the floor is really important if Van Gundy is going to run any kind of system similar to what he had in Miami and Orlando. For that reason, I’m thinking they’ll go with a wing that can shoot, unless one of the 1st round post talents (McGary, Stokes, Capela) somehow falls into their lap. Of course, improving the perimeter defense is an option too with someone like SF Damien Inglis or SF Thanasis Antetokounmpo. Finding holes you can try to fix in the 2nd round isn’t hard when you go 29-53.
PP: Joe Harris really blossomed the last two years at Virginia. He has good size as a shooting guard and has shown that at times he can get to the basket. Yet he does lack some athleticism. A lot of draft experts have him slotted to go 38th to the Pistons. Would he be a good fit?
KA: In terms of fit, he’s a great shooter and would have a chance at playing time right away if the Pistons fail to sign a veteran sharpshooter. Like you said, he’s limited from an athletic standpoint, but if the Pistons lose a little athleticism to add some shooting, I wouldn’t complain. Over half of his career FG attempts came from three-point range and he still hit over 38% every single season. That implies to me that he at least understands his strengths and weaknesses. I know that a few mocks have him going to Detroit, but I think 38 is a little high for him. Although if a superior talent isn’t available there, finding a player who fits a need so well would be great. If they go a different direction at 38, and Harris is still on the board at, say, 48, I think trading back into the 2nd round to take him would be a great idea.
PP: Shooters are a big part of the Van Gundy offense. Who are some of your favorite shooters in the draft that the Pistons could be interested in with the 38th pick?
KA: Aside from Joe Harris, I would like to see them have a chance at guys like CJ Wilcox, Jabari Brown, DeAndre Daniels and Spencer Dinwiddie. The first two are strictly jump shooters who are the kind of guys who can have sit in the corner waiting for an open look. Daniels and Dinwiddie have more diverse games, but that increases the chances that they aren’t available by the time Detroit picks. Not having a chance at Stauskas or McDermott at #8 kind of hurts.
PP: If you were to go by workout, you’d think that Detroit has their eyes on a big man that can distribute and shoot the basketball. Cory Jefferson, Johnny O’Bryant, Dwight Powell and Jordan Bachynski all worked out for Pistons officials. Dwight Powell is rated highest on your Big Board at 37. What is it about Powell’s game that you like and could he fit Stan Van Gundy’s offense?
KA: What I really like about Powell is that he has a bit of a unique blend of skills. He’s a great athlete, but Stanford chose to run their triangle offense through him in the high post and he really thrived as a senior. A lot of people think of Nik Stauskas as a really good passer for his position, and then you look at Powell’s Assist Rate and it’s a full two points higher than his. He doesn’t have much to offer as a scorer at this point, but that could come with time. As far as fit, he won’t fit as much at the 4 if Van Gundy runs a system like he did in Orlando, which tended in the latter years to utilize shooting at that position. However, if he runs more of a three-out, two-in like he did with Miami, Powell is a great fit because you can use him in different ways. If things work out, he’s the kind of guy you can run a few possessions through every night on the second unit. His rebounding suffered a bit in his senior season, but at 6’10, 240 with good athleticism, he should at least be serviceable on the glass.
PP: As much as fans have been disappointed in point guard play, it seems like Stan Van Gundy has bought in to having Brandon Jennings run the offense. There seems to be a lot of point guard depth in this draft. Do you see the Pistons drafting a point guard to compete with Brandon Jennings? Of the floor generals slated to go in the second round, who do you believe has the best upside and fits the Van Gundy system?
KA: If the Pistons do draft a PG at 38, I think it would be more of an indictment of Will Bynum than Brandon Jennings. The PG class this year is good in the first round with Dante Exum, Marcus Smart Elfrid Payton, Tyler Ennis and Shabazz Napier leading the way. When you get into the 2nd round, there are a few other names to look for who probably won’t be a threat to start right away. Semaj Christon of Xavier, Deonte Burton of Nevada and Vasilije Micic out of Serbia are all big and/or athletic PGs who struggle a bit to shoot the ball. Of the three, Christon would be my pick, if available. He did make some strides shooting the ball this past season, although it was on limited attempts, and he’s a free throw magnet. That being said, I’m not sure that any of them fit the system well. The closest I see the Pistons coming to a PG in the 2nd round is Spencer Dinwiddie, who is more of a combo guard at 6’6 after playing his first two years in Boulder at SG and then transitioning to the point as a junior.
PP: The 2014 Draft is so deep that we should see at least a handful of undrafted free agents that can make their mark in this league. Who are some of the players you see outside the draft that the Pistons should target for Summer League?
KA: I think the first one that comes to mind for a lot of local Pistons fans is Travis Bader from Oakland University, a guy you’ve profiled. Had a great four years in his time there, broke JJ Redick’s all-time career three point field goals record and is from Okemos. If he doesn’t get drafted, he should be a lock to at least get on a Summer League roster, hopefully with the Pistons. Aside from Bader, I think we’re probably looking at shooters and big men. Some guys that I would like to see are Oklahoma SF Cameron Clark, Duke SG Andre Dawkins, New Mexico C Alex Kirk, UW-Green Bay F/C Alec Brown and Spanish PF Cristiano Felicio. I’m sure Keith Appling will garner some interest if he goes undrafted too.
PP: There is a lot of talent in this draft from Michigan State and the University of Michigan. If you were a GM looking for a center, would you target Mitch McGary or Adreian Payne? Would you feel more comfortable selecting Gary Harris or Nik Stauskas?
KA: I should probably disclose that I’m a Michigan fan, so that may or may not influence what I say here. That being said, I think that it’s Payne over McGary with little room for argument. If McGary had stayed healthy and played out the year, maybe he could have shown more development; but Payne’s shooting combined with his size fits really well into today’s NBA and I think he can play PF and C in the pros. There’s a little bit more debate on the perimeter, but I would take Stauskas and not think twice about it. There’s been some buzz that he could go in the top ten, as high as 8th to the Kings. Harris is a solid prospect and is easily the better defender, but I think all things considered, I would be more comfortable going with Nik Stauskas.
PP: It’d seem since Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower were late to the party when it comes to scouting players, that they might not be too interested in jumping into the first round. Do you think it’s a possibility that we see them do so with a potential trade?
KA: There was a report shortly following the draft lottery that they tried to negotiate a way to get the pick back from Charlotte. Obviously that didn’t come to fruition, and that’s the last time I’ve heard of them trying to get back into the first round since losing the pick. I wouldn’t say there’s a 0% chance, because teams late in the 1st may be looking to avoid having a guaranteed salary against their cap, but I don’t see it happening. If they do try it, I would expect the pick to be in the 25-30 range.
PP: Finally, when it’s all said and done — Where will this draft class rank with the great ones?
KA: There was some talk as far back as two years ago that this would be a legendary draft class. It’s certainly one of the best classes going into draft night that the NBA has seen since the 2003 class. However, I think some of the enthusiasm has rightfully tapered, and with the injuries to Embiid, the top prospect in the class, the upside could be a bit limited. However, there’s still superstar potential with Embiid (if healthy), Wiggins, Parker and Exum; not to mention the second tier of Randle, Vonleh and Smart, who all have All-Star potential. Funny to think that there are probably seven guys in this draft class who would’ve gone first overall last year. Still, this seems like more a once-in-a-decade class than a once-in-a-lifetime group.