The Detroit Pistons could find in Louis King the “glue guy” of the future

The Detroit Pistons are building for the future and Louis Kin has the potential to be the glue guy of that team.

Louis King is a lengthy forward that can shoot, handle and pass the ball. That’s basically the “new meta” of the NBA. He’s got almost everything you would look for in a modern wing, and the Detroit Pistons are lucky.

And I say “almost” because any 21-year-old player has room to grow. So, to phrase it more appropriately, King checks all the boxes you would want a young NBA prospect at his position to check.

His nba.com scouting report says the following among others:

Possesses good size for a small forward measured at 6’8 in shoes at the Draft Combine to go along with a 7’0.25 wingspan and a lean 195-pound frame that still has room to improve. More fluid and agile than explosive athletically.

The biggest question about him is gaining muscle. His frame suggests that he won’t be able to add a lot of weight but I don’t think that’s much of a problem.

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Well, he probably won’t be able to guard the big strong wings of the league but that’s why Sekou Doumbouya is on the team. However, King is tougher than he looks.

He can build a lean but strong body and take advantage of his natural fluidity as a handler and finisher. For a guy with his length, he has great body control.

His handle is good enough for him to be able to change speed and direction as he pleases. Of course, to make it in the NBA he’ll have to tighten it up a bit but he just has a natural gift of being effective with his dribbling moves.

King is very crafty with his finishes and has great touch. However, as you can see in his shot chart, he’s not very efficient in the paint. Part of it is because he stops just short, settling for tough scoop shots and floaters instead of inviting contact.

In the G-League, King averaged 15.0 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on .420/.333/.808 shooting splits, playing 28.5 minutes per game for the Grand Rapids Drive.

That’s not the efficiency one would expect of a player of his talent. Getting all the way to the basket and finishing over length will be something he’ll have to learn to do more consistently.

That way, he can also draw more fouls and get to the free-throw line more often, where he’s shooting it with great efficiency. The tools are there for him to be an efficient scorer, especially if he adds strength.

And I just really like his ability to get really low dribbling the ball and then explode and fully extend for a finish.

However, given his career so far in college and the G-League, I don’t see him as a volume scorer. More like a ball mover that can score efficiently and break down the defense in all kinds of ways.

He has a knack for finding open spots off the ball. He knows how to position himself on both ends and he sees the floor well. He’s not one to stay put and wait for the ball.

He’ll try and find the right angle for the pass, the open lane to cut to the hoop, the open teammate when the defense reacts.

In the next clip, his defender plays off of him, so he runs to the wing to create separation and then attacks the closeout. Once he has the attention of the defense, he goes for the lefty pass to Thon Maker.

Generally, he seems comfortable passing on the move and he can distribute the ball out of pick and roll situations. Having a 6’8″ secondary ball-handler on the floor is a great advantage in the NBA.

Hopefully, King can be that guy for the future Pistons. A guy that will keep the ball moving, always a threat to shoot, drive and kick. In my estimation, he fits what the coaching staff is trying to accomplish perfectly.

To be that player for the Pistons he will have to prove that he’s a serious spot-up threat. So far, he’s looking good. His shot seems effortless and while his mechanics looked a bit weird at the start of the season, he’s improved a lot.

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He has straightened out his base and shoulders and now his set shot looks pretty clean. Of course, he’ll have to be consistent with it but practice makes best.

Now, movement shooting is another topic. While it’s highly likely King becomes an efficient spot-up shooter, I don’t see him shooting many threes out of screens or off the dribble.

He’s got a long way until he reaches that level, if ever, but on a low volume, he can be a highly efficient three-point shooter. One that defenses respect too much to leave open.

And he can use that threat to open up his “drive and kick” game. He certainly has the feel to find the open shot against a scrambling defense, a trait that will be very useful to the future Pistons.

Head coach, Dwane Casey, has often emphasized the importance of having multiple playmakers on the floor. That usually leads to sacrificing length, so it’s very convenient to have tall players that can create.

It’s also a big advantage to have players that can grab a rebound and lead the break. King is great at navigating a scrambling defense. Watch how he sets up a fastbreak alley-oop from half-court.

He sees Donta Hall filling the right lane, he splits two defenders and he starts his move at the three-point line, drawing the attention of four defenders, which opens up the lane for Hall.

King is two steps ahead of everybody else on that play. And you can notice that same feel on defense. His vision, positioning and length give him a high ceiling as a team defender.

Plus, he has great hands for deflections and swipes at the ball. In the next play, he correctly switches the off-ball screen and takes away the pass to the corner. Then he goes and strips the ball from a weird angle.

In my estimation, weak side defense will be a major part of his utility on defense. He still has to improve his footwork on closeouts but that’s expected at this point in his career. The same goes for on-ball defense, where footwork is not his only problem.

Right now, NBA players can bully him around, so he needs to add core and upper body strength to be able to absorb contact. Until that happens, he will struggle, which lowers his defensive floor.

From an optimistic point of view, that’s not a serious red flag. He’s a tough defender despite his frame and quick enough to guard smaller players.

However, there are a lot of players in history that couldn’t handle the physicality of the NBA, so I understand those that remain skeptics.

We all know how low the probability is for an undrafted prospect to become a core piece but King has the tools and talents to contribute in many sorts of ways. The team could have found in him a sleeper.

A player that could prove extremely valuable to the team’s success with his length and versatility. A guy that can do a little bit of everything. The glue guy for the future Detroit Pistons.

 

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