Along with the current excitement over the sale (finally) of the Detroit Pistons to Tom Gores, fans are anxiously anticipating getting a true difference-maker in the upcoming NBA draft — now just more than one month away. And while a lot can change between now and June 23 in New Jersey, I am staking my claim and my (un)professional reputation on the Pistons selecting Bismack Biyombo in the draft.*
But before I talk at length about Biyombo, I want to talk about why his selection could prove so important to the Pistons.
Not only does the draft offer a source of good, cheap labor over several years, but getting an impact player certainly clarifies what steps need to be taken in the rebuilding process, and the Pistons should could use some clarification. They are cash-strapped and overstuffed with veterans. But one positive of the last year of turmoil and ineffectualness was the blossoming of rookie Greg Monroe.
Monroe proved himself to be a true, honest to goodness building block. Maybe not someone who will ever be a superstar, but certainly a player that could anchor a position for several years on a contending team. And that’s not to say that he can’t be a superstar or recurring all-star. He got better as the season went along and is still just 20 years old. And lest you think that the Pistons can’t get an impact player, remember that last year’s draft was also considered weak on superstar talent and Detroit selected seventh then as well.
Of course fortifying one positions still leaves a lot of rebuilding to do and holes to fill. And honestly, the Pistons biggest hole is point guard, but unless they win the lottery and the right to select Kyrie Irving, there is no point guard in the draft that will interest them at pick 7.
The Pistons need a big man. But more importantly, the Pistons need a big man that complements Monroe. Monroe has great hands, awesome touch around the basket, extremely high basketball IQ and elite passing ability for a young center. What he doesn’t have is the body, strength or leaping ability to be a force on the defensive end. And that is where Bismack comes in.
At 18 years old, Biyombo is blessed with an NBA-ready body at 6-foot-8, with a 7-foot-7 wingspan and weighing 243 pounds. Although there are questions about his age, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a legitimate paper trail considering he is the son of government officials.
And after tearing up international leagues in his short career of professional basketball, Biyombo opened the eyes of America with the first-ever triple double at the Nike Hoops Summit on Saturday with 12 point, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks.
I have a little more due diligence on Biyombo the player, after all, the Pistons, and most other teams, have been burned by overseas players before. I will be doing a future post, either tempering or confirming my own enthusiasm for Biyombo by trying to search for corrolaries in international big men. But the thing that sealed the deal for me regarding Detroit’s draft plans was the latest mock draft by ESPN’s Chad Ford.
It’s no secret that Ford and Pistons GM Joe Dumars are friendly, and that Ford has seemed privy to Detroit’s draft-day thinking in the past. Most notably, he had the Pistons selecting little-known guard Rodney Stuckey coming from off-the-radar Eastern Washington way before others. If Biyombo gets the Chard Ford seal of approval, that is good enough for me.
Or at least, it is in the context of this year’s crop of players. The way the draft was shaking out, I was only focusing on a couple players — Iriving if the Pistons won the lottery and Enes Kanter if the Pistons drafted in the latter half of the top 10. If aKanter was gone, I was worried the Pistons were going to be able to find an impact player. All the top prospects were question marks from overseas, and while I am no international basketball expert, everything I was reading highlighted what I consider red flags when evaluating foreign players — questions about level of competition, questions about strength, questions about athleticism, etc. It’s just been hard to get excited about the prospects of a Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely or Donatas Montiejunas.
As one NBA executive said after seeing his performance at the recent Nike Hoops summit: “”He’s Ben Wallace, basically.”
I’ll take it — happily.
* Selection contingent on Pistons not landing one of the top-3 picks in the NBA draft.