Detroit Pistons: 2 FIBA World Cup stars that may deserve a look

Joshua Hawkinson ( #24 reacts during the FIBA Basketball World Cup (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
Joshua Hawkinson ( #24 reacts during the FIBA Basketball World Cup (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons still have an open roster spot and myriad ways they could fill it.

For now, it seems Troy Weaver et al. are happy to leave it open in the eventuality of a trade that sends one guy out in exchange for two. So far Detroit has balked at whatever offers they are getting for Bojan Bogdanovic, but having an open roster spot gives them more flexibility.

They could always go the veteran route and re-sign Rodney McGruder (please no) or take a flyer on a young player with upside.

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Another unlikely possibility is picking up one of the stars of the FIBA World Cup, and there have been some unlikely names appearing in highlight reels of late.

It’s highly unlikely that either of these two players will end up on the Detroit Pistons, but they are great stories who could get a shot in the league.

Detroit Pistons: 2 FIBA World Cup stars that may deserve a look

Joshua Hawkinson: Japan

Hawkinson enjoyed a productive four-year college career at Washington State University where he was a double-double machine as a 6-foot-10 power forward. He also showed he could shoot, hitting over 40 percent of his 3-point attempts in his senior season.

He went undrafted and disappeared into the Japanese league, never to be heard from until now, as he led Japan to three wins in the FIBA World Cup, averaging over 21 points and 10 rebounds per game along the way.

Japan has been one of the surprise teams of the tournament and Hawkinson is a big reason why. He’s a skilled big who can run the pick-and-roll and has nice touch around the rim, as you can see in these highlights:

He put up big numbers against some good teams (including 33 against Australia) mostly by being very efficient around the rim. That may not be enough in the NBA, as Hawkinson would have to show that he can knock down 3-point shots consistently and handle the physicality of the position.

But he’s a great story either way and theoretically a power forward who can shoot the 3-ball is on the Detroit Pistons’ wishlist.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Jordan

By now you’ve probably seen the video of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson doing his best left-handed Kobe Bryant impersonation. RHJ has been one of the best stories of the tournament even though his team, Jordan, has yet to win a game.

He’s been single-handedly trying to get them that W, including a huge 39 point performance against New Zealand. Hollis-Jefferson is a name you probably know if you follow the league, as he played six years in the NBA, mostly for the Nets, where he did have one pretty good season where he averaged 14 and 7 per game.

But just like in the NBA, his scoring has been inefficient and he still hasn’t shown he can hit a 3-point shot.

He’s still only 26-years-old, so someone could look at his FIBA tape and wonder if he could be a lightning in a bottle scorer off the bench.

It probably won’t be the Detroit Pistons who take that chance, but they do need additional depth at forward and he can play both spots.

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