The Detroit Pistons have had a great offseason so far, drafting Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren and adding veterans Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks.
Troy Weaver has gotten high marks for his two-year transformation of the Pistons from a team going nowhere to one with a lot of promise and a couple of potential stars to build around.
Weaver also added un-drafted free agent Buddy Boeheim, the sharpshooter from Syracuse. You can’t take too much from Summer League, but Boeheim was underwhelming, though he did have a couple of decent shooting games.
His defense looks like it will need a lot of work to get to NBA level, so it’s a bit curious that he was offered a two-way contract before anyone had actually seen him play against NBA-caliber talent. It’s hard to imagine him making an impact, at least right away, even on a team as young as the Pistons that also happens to be desperate for shooting.
There were a lot of intriguing players left on the un-drafted free agent pile this season, which is becoming more common as the amount of talent each year just keeps increasing and players are now coming from all over the world, which makes it far more likely a gem will slip through the cracks.
Guys like Duncan Robinson and Jose Alvarado have ended up contributing to good teams recently after going un-drafted and there may be a few guys this season that the Detroit Pistons regret passing on.
Detroit Pistons: The best un-drafted free agents
These are three players I liked coming into the draft who may have been overlooked as un-drafted free agents.
Seabron is already 22-years-old and but may be a late bloomer, as he made a huge leap in his sophomore season at NC State before going un-drafted then getting a two-way from the Pelicans.
His team was terrible, so it’s hard to say if he was just a guy putting up stats on a bad team, but Seabron did a little of everything for NC State as a 6-foot-7 guard, scoring 17 points per game and grabbing 8.2 rebounds with 3.2 assists.
He’s very good at slithering to the rim and finishing in all manner of ways, though he’s not a good shooter from the outside. I like him as a big playmaker who can get his own buckets and will thrive in transition in an NBA setting.
He came on late in Summer League and had some big games for the New Orleans Pelicans, knocking down half of his 3-point shots. I like Seabron’s upside more than Boeheim’s, as he has the size and length to defend, but I hope I’m wrong.
I wrote about Champagnie as a possible second-round prospect for the Pistons way back in April. He’s a long forward with a 6-foot-10 wingspan who averaged 19 points per game last season for St. John’s. He’s a crafty defender who uses his length to get steals and blocks. He didn’t show much in Summer League but the 76ers felt comfortable enough to offer him a two-way deal.
Long, defensive forwards with shooting upside are always going to be valuable and Champagnie could end up being an NBA rotation player at some point.
Ellis is another older prospect who I loved coming out of Alabama. He has the length and motor to be a good defender at 6-foot-6 and averaged just under two steals per game for The Crimson Tide last season.
He was one of the standouts for the Kings in Summer League, where he was second in scoring behind 4th pick Keegan Murray, led the team in assists and swiped 2.3 steals per game. He is a bit reminiscent of former teammate Herb Jones, who exploded onto the scene last year as a defender and made the All-Rookie team after being taken in the second round. He also reminds me of former Pistons draft pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, another lanky 3-and-D player.
Ellis hit an impressive 54 percent of his 3-point shots in Summer League on six attempts per game. I really love his defensive upside and if he can become a reliable shooter, he might be the next overlooked Alabama player to make an impact in the NBA.
We’ll see how this all works out, but the Detroit Pistons may end up regretting passing on some more well-rounded players in their pursuit of elite shooting.