Derrick Walton Jr. shouldn’t receive a second 10-day contract with Pistons

Detroit Pistons Derrick Walton Jr. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Derrick Walton Jr. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

It’s time for the Detroit Pistons to decide whether or not they’ll sign former Michigan Wolverine, Derrick Walton Jr, to a second 10-day contract and they probably shouldn’t.

Derrick Walton Jr, a Detroit native, signed his first 10-day contract with the Pistons on Feb. 20 and his time is almost up. A contract of that type is a good way to get a look at a player that intrigues you.

But a second one means that you are serious about signing that player for the remainder of the season. In other words, there’s no sense in signing a guy to a second 10-day contract unless you’re thinking of keeping him.

At this point, the Pistons have to ask themselves “what do we want out of a 10-day contract”?
The answer should be “upside.” This early into the rebuild, you have to be looking at as many underrated high potential players as you can.

That way, you can find gems, as they did with Christian Wood or the Heat with Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson. You have to look at players that fit certain archetypes and have elite NBA skills and/or physical tools.

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Walton is a 6-foot guard that excels in spot-up situations and can handle the ball some in pick-and-roll situations. His small build limits his ceiling but he definitely has some NBA ready skills.

In four years of college, he averaged 11.6 points, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game on a shooting line of .404/.401/.837, which perfectly highlights his strengths and weaknesses. While he is a great 3-point shooter, his efficiency drops dramatically inside the line.

He shot an average of 40.9% on 2-pointers, which is very concerning and indicates how he struggled to finish through traffic even at a low volume. Now, imagine how that translates into the NBA where the competition is even greater.

At his height without an extraordinary wingspan, a quick first step or elite athleticism it will be hard for him to score at the next level unless he’s Fred VanVleet. Since the Raptors found an undrafted gem in VanVleet, teams have been looking for the next one.

I’m confident in saying, Walton is not it. VanVleet is not successful because of his build but despite it. So, you have to look at what separates him from other players his size. The short answer is IQ.

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In four years of college, VanVleet averaged 44.7% of his 2-pointers, 3.7 steals and 10.5 assists per 100 possessions, but I digress. You can follow the links and see for yourself how they compare statistically.

Having said all that, Walton won’t have a problem as a spot-up shooter, which is his greatest skill. However, being an elite shooter at 6-foot is not the same as being one at 6-foot-7 like Robinson is for example.

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Even if Walton proves capable of shooting at a high volume and efficiency, what other value does he bring to the table? Well, he is a decent playmaker. He takes care of the ball but can’t do much with it. If you’re not a threat to score near the rim, you’re not going to cause the defense to break down and create easy shots for others. He is a low-usage, low-assist player that is better suited for an off-ball role.

His defensive upside is low as well. Lack of size is a greatly limiting factor on that end, especially when there’s no indication that he can compensate with a high IQ. However, he’s strong for his frame, and his footwork and instincts are decent.

So, he’s closer to Langston Galloway that he is to VanVleet and that’s not an interesting player for a rebuilding team. In fact, the Pistons have three players on the roster that seem much more intriguing.

Louis King, Jordan Bone and Donta Hall all have great physical tools for their positions and fall into archetypes of starters if they develop correctly. At some point, the Pistons will have to give these guys a closer look.

Since they only have two open roster spots, they’ll have to choose which players they’ll sign for the remainder of the season if they want to give them more playing time. Giving a chance to Walton is taking it away from others with greater potential, given the team’s stance on playing the veterans.

So, despite the fact that Walton could very well become a competent NBA player, the Pistons have little incentive to explore that possibility.

Next. 4 things to watch for the Pistons after the All-Star break. dark