Detroit Pistons Draft Targets: Assessing Their Likely Big Board
So now that the smoldering dumpster fire which was the Detroit Pistons' season has come to a merciful end, it is time to press on with the business of rebuilding this once proud franchise.
Obviously this is not a team devoid of talent, but that isn't the focus of this article.
It is time to put together the Detroit Pistons' draft big board.
The big board, for those who haven't followed a lot of draft coverage, is how a team evaluates its potential draft targets come draft night.
The Pistons brass will put together a list of their top prospects regardless of position and team need, and once each player is chosen ahead of Detroit's selection, they simply cross out the name and move to the next one.
Ideally, if a team is smart, it sticks to this plan and drafts the best player according to its board.
Here are the players that the Pistons should be targeting on their draft board.
5. Otto Porter Jr., Forward, Georgetown
Otto Porter Jr. is perhaps the best small forward prospect in this year's draft.
He is a fantastic shooter and a solid defender with great length and exhibits sneaky athleticism.
In a competitive Big East conference, Porter had moments this season when he dominated. He dropped 33 points on Syracuse, 21 on Marquette and 17 and 12 boards on eventual NCAA champ Louisville.
He is a good rebounder who uses his length to disrupt passing lanes and make life miserable for opponents.
He is a better perimeter defender at this time and could become a less athletic version of Paul George at the next level.
He shot 42 percent from deep, grabbed nearly two steals per game and even chipped in a block per contest.
He also is an incredible mid-range shooter who also has the makings of a low post game.
Porter is not an elite athlete. He also doesn't have elite defensive instincts, despite his numbers.
Porter lacks the ability to create his own shot regularly, which was evident in Georgetown's disappointing first-round loss in the NCAA tournament.
He can vanish for long stretches of time, and given his lack of elite athleticism, he rarely can get to the hoop.
He also is thin as a rail, and while sometimes this isn't a problem (Tayshaun Prince), sometimes it is (Austin Daye).
Sure, he could eventually bulk up, but history is not on his side.
So while he could develop into a solid post scorer, his lack of size could hurt him. As of now, he is about the same height as Prince, but 15 lbs lighter. If that doesn't alarm you, it should.
Is he a fit for Detroit?
Personally, I am not a huge fan of Porter. He could develop into a solid pro, but the Pistons need a little more sizzle in this year's pick. They have a roster full of potentially solid pros, but they need some stars. Porter could potentially be a fit at the small forward spot, but he is not going to bring fans into the arena or excite the fanbase.
If the four players above him are selected before the Pistons draft, then Porter would be a fine consolation prize. But there are more exciting and talented players who should be available.
4. Shabazz Muhammad, Guard/Forward, UCLA
Shabazz Muhammad was one of the best wing shooters in the country this year.
He shot nearly 38 percent from three-point range and scored nearly 18 points per game.
Muhammad is a stud scorer in every possible way. He can slash to the hoop, create his own shot and catch-and-shoot from deep.
He also is a smart player who always seems to be moving.
He has excellent size for a shooting guard and the length to become a solid defender.
Muhammad is a constant motion type of player who never settles for being a wallflower. While he probably isn't destined to be Rip Hamilton without the ball, he won't be Rodney Stuckey either.
Despite his offensive ability, he isn't an elite athlete.
And despite his physical tools, he is a disinterested defender at best.
He plays smart on offense, but he doesn't always play efficiently. He doesn't pass, and while he was a solid rebounder in college, he won't be at the next level.
Whoever drafts Muhammad should be mindful that he may never be more than a Michael Redd type of player.
Obviously Redd had a good career, so this might not bother some NBA general managers. But he isn't going to be the next Kobe Bryant or LeBron James like some had hoped when he was recruited out of high school.
He also might not be a good teammate, although that point is a lot less evident.
Is he a fit for Detroit?
The short answer is no, but it is a lot more complicated than that.
Muhammad will be a scorer at the next level—that much is clear. But whether or not he can do anything else is anyone's guess.
Personally, I would have liked to see more development from Muhammad during his stint in college. He entered as an explosive scorer and didn't do anything to disprove that. However, he didn't do anything to blow away scouts either.
In Detroit, he would be ideally suited as a shooting guard, playing off Brandon Knight at the point.
However, that backcourt would probably average only about five assists per game. That's not a lot of ball movement, which isn't a recipe for success at the NBA level.
Like Porter, Muhammad could fill a role in Detroit, but he might not be the ideal fit.
3. Victor Oladipo, Guard, Indiana
Perhaps nobody in this year's draft is athletically superior to Victor Oladipo.
He is an explosive leaper and a dynamic dunker.
The biggest knock on Oladipo heading into this year was his outside shooting. But he managed to work that out as a junior, raising his three-point shooting up to 44 percent. He more than doubled his three-point efficiency from about 21 percent as a sophomore.
Oladipo can score in a variety of ways and is still developing his mid-range game. He has a high ceiling as a scorer.
But where Oladipo really thrives is as a defender. His athleticism and quickness allow him to blanket opponents. And his high motor allows him to frustrate offensive players.
He also is an excellent rebounder as a guard, which should translate well at the next level.
Oladipo is a relatively raw player offensively.
His mid-range game needs some work, and he probably will never be a catch-and-shoot player. He will truly reach the next level as a player when he develops his offensive game. Right now he is a slasher who is working on creating his own shot.
Once he is able to put his entire offensive game together, he could become special.
Some have pointed to his size as a weakness, but his athleticism should help him overcome what could only be viewed as a marginal knock on him.
Is he a fit for Detroit?
If he becomes what he is capable of, he has a tremendous ceiling. I have heard some folks throw out Dwyane Wade's name, but it seems unlikely that Oladipo could ever develop that kind of offensive game.
Instead, I would say that Oladipo could become a much better and more offensive-minded Tony Allen.
Some may scoff at this and say that Allen is nothing special, but I'm sure most basketball general managers would be thrilled if Allen was on their team.
If Oladipo could become this type of player, he could help usher in a new era in Detroit. A starting lineup consisting of Brandon Knight, Oladipo, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe could be a good team for years to come, especially if the Pistons can add an athletic small forward like Corey Brewer.
What I like about Oladipo as a Piston is his intensity and motor, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He would immediately become a fan favorite in Detroit and could be, with Drummond, the catalyst of a new era of defensive-minded basketball.
2. Trey Burke, Point Guard, Michigan
Trey Burke is without question the best point guard in this year's draft class.
He is a tremendous court leader and a proven winner.
As a point guard, he has tons of ability. His court vision is fantastic, his passing ability is already next level and his offensive instincts are off the charts.
He has shooting range that extends beyond NBA three-point range and the quickness to get to the hoop whenever he wants.
He is a superb finisher who can absorb punishment yet still get off high-percentage shots.
He is still working on his running tear drops, but his mid-range game is already pro-caliber.
Defensively, he has tremendous instincts, surprising athleticism and excellent leaping ability. He also has the drive and desire to shut down his opponents when he wants to, as evidenced by the 10-second violation he forced during crunch time in the NCAA tournament.
He plays the passing lanes well and could become a good thief at the next level.
Burke's game only has one weakness: He lacks the ideal size that general managers would like to see in their point guards.
While the point guard position has evolved into a 6'2 and taller club, Burke is just a shade over six feet. He also lacks upper and lower body bulk, which could lead to injuries at the next level.
Critics point to the pounding he took in the NCAA tournament, particularly against Louisville.
But durability has never been an issue for Burke, and plenty of point guards his size in the league have flourished, including Chris Paul.
Is he a fit for Detroit?
If Burke were selected, what would happen to Brandon Knight? A starting backcourt of Burke and Knight would be a defensive liability, as they would be overpowered on a nightly basis.
So if the Pistons decide to draft Burke, they would likely have to bring in a different shooting guard (ideally an athletic defender like Tony Allen) and have Knight come off the bench.
This is far from a bad idea, as Knight may flourish in a Jason Terry type of role.
Burke could be the leader that the Pistons have craved since Chauncey Billups left town, and he would immediately infuse some new life into the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons have been struggling to fill the seats at the Palace, and Burke would immediately insert some excitement.
I also like the idea of Burke doing for Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond what he did for Mitch McGary in the NCAA tournament.
This team would immediately become more intense and more efficient, as Burke rarely turns the ball over.
He could be an ideal fit for the Pistons.
1. Ben McLemore, Guard, Kansas
For all of the careless Wade comparisons tossed out there, Ben McLemore is one of the few players who can carry that kind of comparison.
He is incredibly athletic, has fantastic range and could develop into an elite defender.
The motion of his jump shot is flawless. He has a lightning quick release and can get it off against taller defenders.
He has an amazingly quick first step and elevates faster than almost anyone in the draft.
He plays with a bit of a mean streak, exhibiting passion on the court. You can tell he really loves the game.
Defensively, he has good instincts, excellent quickness and the desire to shut down his opponents.
Overall, there are few flaws with his overall game.
From time to time in college, McLemore would vanish. Part of that is because he struggles at times to create his own shot.
It also is curious why a guy with such an amazing shot struggles from time to time. For example, take his two games against Kansas State this year. In the first contest, he hit six of 10 triples on his way to 30 points. In the second meeting, he was held to 2-of-7 shooting from the field on his way to five points.
Against ranked opponents, he only scored more than 20 points three times and was held to 14 or fewer points in the other five games, including only two points against North Carolina in the NCAA tournament.
Is he a fit for Detroit?
The Pistons are in desperate need of a dynamic scoring shooting guard with athleticism who can develop into an elite defender.
If McLemore were to slip to Detroit, he could potentially pair nicely with Brandon Knight, giving the young guard a viable scoring option.
He also could free up space down low with his quick release and deep range.
It is also exciting to think about the prospect of McLemore and Drummond filling the lanes on the fast break. These two would also work very well in the pick-and-roll game.
Overall, McLemore is probably the best fit for the Pistons, but he is also likely to be gone once the Pistons are on the clock.