Stars of March Madness Who Could Land on the Detroit Pistons
The NCAA tournament concluded Monday, and now college players have only until April 16 to decide whether or not to declare for the 2013 NBA draft.
For many top players the last three weekends gave them one last chance to showcase their talents before the pre-draft process begins.
For the Detroit Pistons this draft is especially important, they will miss the playoffs for the fourth-consecutive season. Finding a player this June who can help lead the team back into contention is vital.
If the season ended today the Pistons would finish with the fifth-worst record in the NBA, giving them an 8.8 percent chance of winning the draft lottery. However, mock drafts cannot project the Lottery results, so for now the Pistons are projected to have the No. 5 pick in June.
Here are the five March Madness stars that analysts believe could be drafted by the Pistons.
Victor Oladipo, Indiana
If the Pistons want to use their first-round pick to improve their wing defense, then Indiana 2-guard Victor Oladipo is the best option available.
Oladipo's draft stock has risen dramatically this season, as he has gone from a late first-round pick to a lock for the lottery.
To start the season he was known almost exclusively as a defensive stopper.
Now he has shown scouts and executives that he can be a solid offensive player as well. Between his sophomore and junior seasons he improved his field goal percentage from 47.1 to 59.9 percent. His three-point shooting numbers made a bigger jump, from 20.8 to 44.1 percent.
Oladipo raised his game in March and was Indiana's best player in the tournament, averaging over 14 points and five rebounds per game on 60 percent shooting from the field.
Draft Express projects the Pistons to take Oladipo with the fifth pick in its latest mock draft.
He fits a position of need for the Pistons and has the talent to play immediately in Detroit.
Anthony Bennett, UNLV
UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett has the skills to help those numbers immediately.
Bennett is a natural power forward who will also see some time at small forward in the NBA, especially if he ends up in Detroit next to Greg Monroe.
Offensively he has the ability to dominate on the low block, but can also step outside and extend the defense.
The biggest question with his position is who he can guard at the next level.
Even though he may not be a perfect fit for the Pistons, Bennett has been a popular pick for the team in recent mock drafts. Both HoopsHype and NBADraft.net have Bennett at No. 5 going to Detroit in their most recent mock drafts.
UNLV lost in the first round of the tournament, but Bennett still showed what a force he can be on the offensive end. He finished the game with 15 points, getting to the free-throw line 10 times, and 11 rebounds.
The Pistons will have to take a serious look at Bennett during the pre-draft process. He is possibly the most dynamic offensive player in the 2013 NBA draft.
Trey Burke, Michigan
The biggest star of the tournament and the entire season, played his home games just one hour from The Palace. Is it possible that Michigan sophomore Trey Burke could play for the Pistons next season?
Yannis Koutroupis of Hoops World has the Pistons selecting the 6'0" point guard with the No. 5 pick. They currently have four point guards on the roster, but Burke could be the pick if the Pistons believe he can be their point guard of the future.
Burke had an up and down tournament, but he played his best basketball when Michigan needed him most. He led the Wolverines back from a double-digit deficit against Kansas and hit the game-tying three to send the game to overtime.
And despite losing in the championship game, Burke led all scorers with 24 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, while only playing 26 minutes because of foul trouble.
Drafting Burke would force the Pistons to move Brandon Knight to shooting guard or trade him to another team, something they may not want to do after just two NBA seasons.
However, if they think Burke can be a star then that is a move the Pistons could be willing to make.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State
If the Pistons do choose to address the point guard position in the draft, then the prospect with arguably the most upside is Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart.
At 6'4" and 225 pounds, Smart has ideal size for an NBA point guard and can even match up with small shooting guards. He rebounds very well for a point guard, averaging 5.8 per game.
Smart also averaged three steals per game, the most in the Big 12.
Smart's versatility is what makes him look like a lock to be a top-five pick. Grantland's Mark Titus had this to say about him before the NCAA tournament:
Smart is like LeBron in that he's the only guy I can think of in college basketball who can do everything there is to be done on a basketball court. If he focused on only one facet of the game every time he played, he could probably score 30 points, dish out 20 assists, pull down 15 rebounds, or get 10 steals. Instead, he does a little of everything, which is why he's so highly regarded and has a chance to be the top overall pick.
While Smart could be one of the top-three picks in the draft, The Hoop Doctors had him falling to the Pistons at No. 5. Almost every other mock draft has him going higher, but the Pistons could still have a chance to get him if they get lucky in the lottery.
Point guard may not be the biggest need for the Pistons, but Smart has more upside than nearly any player in the draft. He is one of the few players in this class that has the potential to make multiple All-Star games.
Ben McLemore, Kansas
The college player that may be the best fit for the Pistons struggled mightily in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Ben McLemore of Kansas scored just 13 points in the opening weekend before scoring 20 in the Sweet 16 loss to Michigan.
McLemore has the potential to be an elite offensive player in the NBA. He is one of the best athletes in the country and has a great shooting stroke, shooting 49.5 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the arc in his freshman season.
That offensive potential is what makes him so appealing to NBA front offices. At this point he appears to be a lock for the top five, and is in contention for the No. 1 overall pick.
Current mock drafts all project him to be off the board when the Pistons pick at No. 5.
However, the Pistons could still move higher in the draft through the lottery. If they do move up, McLemore has to be a player high on their radar.
He is a great athlete, has the potential to become a great scorer and would fill a position of need for the team. McLemore has more upside than any other wing available in the draft, and would be a great fit with Detroit's young core.
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