Meet Pistons unlikely leading scorer: Jules Bernard

UCLA Bruins guard Jules Bernard (1) . TODAY Sports
UCLA Bruins guard Jules Bernard (1) . TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons almost pulled off an incredible rally against a full-strength Cleveland Cavaliers squad in a Las Vegas Summer League game. Leading the offense was undrafted rookie Jules Bernard. Who is he and does he have a future with the Pistons?

The summer league game. at first, seemed to be going on script.

The Cavaliers were playing almost all of its top players, while the Pistons rolled out a bunch of guys who are hoping to make their Motor City Cruise team in the G-League.

Due to actual injuries and trying to avoid further injuries, Detroit did not play any of its draft picks or players on its regular roster. Two-way players Buddy Boeheim and Braxton Key were the only ones on the court who the Pistons have made any kind of commitment for next season.

Cleveland held a 23-point lead (44-21 with 1:44 left in first half) and appeared to be cruising (pun intended) to an easy win.

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But the Pistons, even a stripped down, talent deficient, summer league version, never quit.

Boeheim, Key, point guard Charlie Moore and center Balsa Koprivica helped lead the comeback, but the one who really sparked the offense was rookie guard Jules Bernard.

A 6-foot-7 product of UCLA, Bernard poured in 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half, as Detroit staged an incredible comeback.

The Pistons even took the lead on a drive by Stanley Umude with 58 seconds left. Cleveland eventually pulled out an 82-79 win, although Detroit had two shots at the end to send the game into overtime.

If anything can be called a ‘moral victory’, this was one for the Pistons.

So who is Jules Bernard?

Bernard played four years at UCLA. Last season for the Bruins, he had his best year, averaging 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 35 games. His stats improved every year with the Bruins.

UCLA went to the Final Four in Bernard’s junior season and the Sweet 16 this year.

Originally, when Bernard declared for the NBA draft, he did not sign with an agent, which meant he could return to UCLA as a fifth-year senior. On June 2, he announced he would go pro.

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NBA Scouting Live pegged Bernard as a second round to undrafted prospect, and included him in their top 100. He was invited to the NBA G-League Elite Camp, where he reportedly did well.

As anyone who watched the game (i.e. the most die-hard Pistons fans imaginable) observed, Bernard is a tall, athletic guard who can score off-the-dribble. When he got a full head of steam, the Cavaliers had no real answers,

Bernard is an OK shooter on three-pointers. He was a career 35.4% three-point shooter at UCLA, although he went just 33.7% as a senior.

Does Jules Bernard have a future  with the Detroit Pistons?

Could the Pistons use a tall, athletic guard who can finish and is a decent three-point shooter? Sure.

Bernard has played in all four of the Pistons summer league contests, so management certainly wants to get a good look at him, although the Cleveland game is his first extended minutes (he is averaging 6.0 points in 11.5 minutes).

His outside shot has not been falling in Las Vegas, and since the Pistons have plenty of guards who can’t shoot, that could hurt his chances.

Detroit wraps up its summer league season on Saturday against the Orlando Magic. While for many players, it might be an afterthought, it won’t be for this group of Pistons, looking to impress, if not Detroit, other teams (NBA and foreign).

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If Bernard can repeat his Cleveland performance, you just might see the UCLA product at the Pistons Performance Center for training camp.