ORLANDO | Darrun Hilliard carries himself with a noticeable level of confidence.
Despite being taken in the second round of last month’s NBA Draft, the former Villanova guard doesn’t seem too concerned with the ups and downs that come with playing in the Orlando Pro Summer League. He knows he has to impress Detroit’s basketball czar Stan Van Gundy, but he’s also just trying to get acclimated.
After scoring 12 points in the Pistons 78-73 loss to the Miami Heat on Monday, Hilliard carries himself not like a second-round pick, but like a player he deserves a spot on the team come November.
“When you get some games under your belt, you feel more comfortable, you shoot the ball more,” Hilliard said. “I wouldn’t say confidence, but you shoot the ball more freely and you just let it fly because you know that nobody’s going to say anything. Just make sure you get stops on defense.”
After struggling in the Pistons first two games of the week, Hilliard came out firing against Miami. The 6-foot-6 guard scored all 12 of his points in the first half, flashing the perimeter stroke that made him an attractive prospect.
Despite his strongest game of the week, Van Gundy still offered constructive criticism.
“It’s more things that you want guys to work on,” Van Gundy said. “Darrun’s got a great shot fake, but he’s not using it to draw fouls the way he could. We just talked about that in (the locker room), those are the things more important to me — what they can learn, what they can develop.”
Hilliard also showed some athleticism with a baseline dunk off a bounce pass from Spencer Dinwiddie and made a nice steal at half court that led to him drawing a foul on the ensuring layup. Hilliard played well despite the fact that flow and efficiency are hard to come by in the “I’ve got to get mine” summer league.
But he knows he’s getting better with every game.
“It’s tough,” Hilliard said. “You’ve got guys coming out trying to prove themselves — guys who went undrafted trying to prove themselves — and that’s the name of the game. It is what it is, and you’ve got to keep moving.”
Hilliard was happy to put together a strong effort on Monday, but he’s hoping to show more and more as the week presses on. The 3-and-D player has become a trendy — and well-paying — niche in the NBA recently. The combination of size, defense and shooting could give him a chance to make the team in that type of role.
He said he would like that, but Hilliard thinks he can bring more than just shooting and defense to the table.
“I can definitely do that if they ask me to do that, but I’m sure (Van Gundy) knows I can do a lot more things,” he said. “I’m sure he knows that I can put the ball on the floor and create for my teammates, stuff like that. I’m great to be paid being that 3-and-D type of dude. If I’ve got to sit there in the corner and knock down shots, that’s fine with me. If I’ve got to create for my teammates, that’s fine for me too.”
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