Detroit Pistons Draft 2012: 5 Targets No One Is Talking About
Chad Ford is ESPN's resident NBA expert, and reporting on the NBA draft is his bread and butter. So when he makes a draft prediction, I tend to listen.
He recently wrote an article on his NBA Draft Blog that listed potential outcomes for each of the first 10 picks. For each team he presented predictions and analysis regarding which players fit best.
Here's what he had to say about the Detroit Pistons:
I don't know what the Pistons are going to do at No. 9. If the draft goes to form, there isn't a perfect fit for what they need. We've had UNC's John Henson there the past few weeks because he's long and blocks shots, but no one's a perfect fit.
That confidence-crushing assessment might make Pistons fans climb in a hole for the next few months. For a team knee-deep in the rebuilding process, the draft outlook is not sunny.
The Pistons do need a perfect fit if they hope to build on their improved second half of the year. Certainly, Henson has some upside, and many people believe he would complement Greg Monroe nicely.
It seems like the Pistons would be settling by taking him, though. He's no game-changer, and his size is a big concern for me, too.
At 6'10" and 210 lbs, how much power can he actually bring to the power forward position? His strengths are defense and rebounds, but I don't see him excelling at the next level in either category unless he significantly bulks up.
A key phrase in Ford's statement was "If the draft goes to form..." If that happens, then maybe Henson will be the best player available. But how often does a draft go as predicted? Beyond Anthony Davis going No. 1, there are no sure things.
Here are five players who have not yet been linked to Detroit but who, with draft twists and turns, could be surprise picks on draft day.
5. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
Photo via isportsweb.com
When I wrote this article a couple months ago, Kidd-Gilchrist was rising up the first-round ranks, and the Pistons had not received their No. 9 ping pong ball yet. I had hoped that maybe he'd fall into their laps.
Not so. He's predicted to go as high as two, and I haven't seen him lower than four on any mock drafts. That's well beyond the Pistons reach—or is it?
If Detroit doesn't have a great fit at No. 9, why not trade down and get him? I've been high on him for some time, and I think he would be a great fit for them.
Like Henson, he's not going to be a game-changing offensive dynamo. In fact, analysts have begun to question why he's predicted to go so high. He's not a great shooter, and his ball-handling skills are limited.
That might be true, but Michael Jordan wasn't considered a great shooter coming out of college either.
What can't be denied is that Kidd-Gilchrist is a proven winner. He's got great character and work ethic, he's a defensive-minded player, and he brings high energy every time he takes the floor. Doesn't this sound like someone who would fit into a Lawrence Frank coached team? Yes of course it does.
He's also the type of player the Pistons need desperately. They need a tone-setter and a guy who can defend the opposition's best player.
He fits that mold better than anyone else in the draft. Clearly, if there's a player the Pistons should draft up for, it's him.
4. Jeremy Lamb
Photo via timberpups.com
Lamb is the wild card in this year's lottery. ESPN predicts he could go as high as No. 4 or as low as No. 13.
That big of a gap signifies one thing: There is a lot of disagreement about his ability to succeed at the next level. There's no disputing his talent or freakish athleticism, though. Many believe he can be a star.
Others say he has no motor and label him "passive." He will also need to bulk up if he hopes to survive in the NBA.
Regardless, if he was available at No. 9, the Pistons would nab him, and here's why. They have one shooting guard on their roster currently—Ben Gordon—and there's a good chance he may not be on the roster next season.
In fact, if you consider dollars and cents, it makes the most sense for Joe Dumars to either trade or amnesty him.
The point is the Pistons could use another reliable scorer on the wing, especially if Gordon is gone. Lamb could certainly fit that bill. Plus, he's a matchup nightmare—6'5" with a seven-foot wingspan—and he can defend his position as well as anyone.
3. Kendall Marshall
Photo via bloguin.com
The Pistons need front court help for Greg Monroe. That is the overwhelming sentiment coming from Detroit Pistons nation right now, and I'll admit I once thought this was the best draft strategy for them to take, too.
It might be, but it's not the only strategy. Targeting a point guard isn't out of the question.
While the Pistons just drafted Brandon Knight last season and appear committed to making him the PG of the future, they don't exactly have a lot of depth at the position.
Will Bynum isn't part of the their plans—if he was, he would have appeared in more than 36 games—and Rodney Stuckey is a better fit at shooting guard.
So drafting a point guard for the second time in two years, particularly one like Kendall Marshall at No. 9, wouldn't be crazy.
Far from it. Marshall is a pure point guard, unlike Knight, and the best passer in the draft. He's unselfish and makes everyone around him better, despite not being an elite athlete or dynamic scorer. His importance to his team was evident during the NCAA tournament after he got injured.
North Carolina looked like a different team without him, and they ultimately went out.
Maybe Knight will turn into a total point guard eventually. Until that day arrives, the Pistons need someone who can distribute the ball consistently. Marshall may not be a potential All-Star, but he certainly can do that.
2. Meyers Leonard
Photo via dailybigten.com
If the Pistons are going to select a seven-footer in the draft, most people have Tyler Zeller penciled in. It makes sense. Zeller is four-year collegiate player, and he could contribute immediately. However, he's never going to be a dominant big man.
Meyers Leonard, on the other hand, is young, raw and shows tons of promise. Even though his draft stock has been rising, ESPN reports that during a recent workout, Zeller got the best of Leonard.
He's got two more years of experience, though. The wily veteran simply took advantage of the youngster.
Leonard is a physical specimen, and ESPN compared him to DeAndre Jordan in terms of potential career outlook.
Even though he's predicted to go around pick 19, I don't think the Pistons would be reaching too much if they targeted him with No. 9.
If Andre Drummond, with all his question marks, goes in the top six, Leonard should not be far off. They both have tremendous upside and maturity concerns.
Ultimately, the Pistons need someone who can contribute immediately. They don't need someone who's already reached his ceiling, like Zeller.
They won't contend next year anyway, so they have time to let Leonard reach his full potential. By the time he gets there, maybe the Pistons will reach theirs as well.
1. Arnett Moultrie
Photo via dishingtherock.com
I won't pretend that I'm the first person to say that the Pistons should take a flyer on Moultrie with the No. 9 pick. I'm sure there have been others. He's not a household name, though, so he's not on a lot of people's radar.
He should be. Moultrie is an athletic big man who's also an explosive leaper and great rebounder. He also possesses a very good perimeter shot.
These attributes should make him an intriguing player to pair with Greg Monroe.
The Pistons are ecstatic with Monroe's progress. He's already surpassed his draft position and entered into the ranks of elite NBA big men. With that said, he has weaknesses. He's not a great athlete, and he certainly isn't explosive. That's okay—he doesn't need to be. He's savvy enough offensively to make up for it.
Moultrie is an attractive player to pair with Monroe because he possesses what Monroe lacks. He's a superb athlete who plays above the rim.
These two could be a formidable front court duo and play off each other nicely.
Moultre will need to bulk up and improve his shot blocking if he hopes to become a complete NBA player, and there's plenty of evidence to suggest he should do so while wearing a Pistons jersey.