1. What was your immediate reaction when the Pistons drafted Stanley Johnson?
Patrick Hayes: Words not even fit for the internet. Plain stupidity.
In other words, it further adds to the possibility that Stan Van Gundy might not be cut out for this whole “making personnel decisions” thing. They clearly liked Stanley Johnson, and that’s fine. They likely assumed he’d be the guy most likely to be available at eight and settled on him. Those are fine conclusions. But you have to build in contingencies in case the implausible happens. In this case, Justise Winslow was clearly the better player, he fell to them, but the front office had already made up their mind and fortuitous circumstance didn’t change that judgment.
Put another way, it’s like deciding you need shooting and realizing Jodie Meeks, an OK player who can shoot, is a free agent. So the second you have the opportunity, you throw a bunch of money at him, like your offseason will be DESTROYED if you don’t get Jodie Meeks. And then a week or so later, a player who does the same things only better, Anthony Morrow, signs with a team for 50 percent of what you just paid Meeks. Slow down and think about things, Stan. Have contingency plans. Be flexible.
Pardeep Toor: I reacted with a question. What’s the difference between Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? Based on overall stats and the rhetoric of draft experts, they appear to have similar strengths and weaknesses.
Brady Fredericksen: Oh. And that’s exactly how I thought I’d feel this morning when I figured they would pick him. It’s also how I would have responded had they chosen Justise Winslow. I didn’t expect a star prospect at No. 8, and I think I’m the only person who isn’t mad they passed on Winslow. I thought the Pistons got a small forward who seems ready to play defense in the NBA and should be an improvement over any small forward the Pistons played last season.
Tim Thielke: This was akin to taking Epke Udoh over Greg Monroe. Some Pistons fans refuse to give Dumars credit for making the obvious choices of Monroe and Andre Drummond. Van Gundy just showed why that’s a mistake. When an obvious selection is served up to you on a silver platter, you still have to make it. If Winslow turns out a lot better than Johsons (which he almost certainly will), expect a lot of booing and a lot of calls for Van Gundy to be fired. Now he needs to hit a home run in free agency just to atone for his own idiocy. The Ilyasova trade doesn’t come close to bringing him back into the black.
Dan Feldman: Vince Ellis tweeted the Pistons would probably draft Johnson, and I was just filled with a sense of dread. By the time the actual pick came in, I’d resigned myself to the fact the Pistons were passing on the player I – and nearly everyone else – thought was the right pick.
I also hoped Patrick would handle it worse than I handled the Pistons’ losing their 2014 first-rounder in the lottery. He did not.
2. Whom would you have drafted?
Patrick Hayes: Winslow was the obvious pick. Painfully obvious. No point in repeating what I’ve written before.
Pardeep Toor: Delon Wright or Norman Powell. Justise Winslow.
Brady Fredericksen: Mario Hezonja. JK. I would have probably drafted Johnson still. There wasn’t much of a difference between him and Winslow in my mind. One had a coach who has proven over many years that he knows how to make his players look great. The other played for a coach who suffocated teams to death defensively and got what he could offensively. I know Coach K would have made Stanley Johnson look a lot better at Duke than Sean Miller did for him at Arizona.
Tim Thielke: Justise Winslow. Because, have you watched him play? That dude is a beast. Stanley Johnson has some things going for him. But he is never terrifying.
Dan Feldman: Justise Winslow. He’s a lot like Johnson – just better.
3. How do you grade the pick?
Patrick Hayes: F-. And I don’t even dislike Johnson. He’s fine. Winslow has a chance to be spectacular.
Pardeep Toor: Incomplete. There might be something larger at play here. According to reports it was common knowledge that Charlotte wanted Big Frank at number 9 yet the Pistons made no attempt to swap picks to pick up another asset or even cash considerations. Justice Winslow fell and they didn’t adapt. One theory, Johnson’s agent is Bill Duffy. Duffy also represents Danny Green. The Pistons promised Johnson at the eighth spot in exchange for a fair (or guaranteed?) shot at getting Green which is why the pick was never available via trade and nobody else was considered. Both the player, Johnson, and the fixed salary spot, eighth, was promised as part of the package. Just a theory. Let’s see how the rest of the off-season plays out.
Brady Fredericksen: B. It wasn’t a bad pick. It wasn’t a risky pick. It was a safe pick but, in my opinion, it wasn’t like there were better prospects.
Tim Thielke: F, whiffing on obvious selections is unacceptable.
Dan Feldman: C-. That speaks to how much I like Johnson, because passing on Winslow was a colossal mistake. Johnson was the only player they could chosen over Winslow without getting an F from me.