In the 2013 NBA draft, the Detroit Pistons will have the No. 8 pick in the second round. Players available that late rarely turn into All-Stars, but the Pistons should be able to find a player who can play valuable minutes in their rotation next season.
The Pistons need to upgrade their starters on the wing, but they also need to find reliable backups at point guard and in the frontcourt. Here is one player at each position that the Pistons should strongly consider drafting in the second round.
Point Guard: Myck Kabongo, Texas
The Pistons only have two players under contract that can play point guard, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey, and both struggle running an offense.
Texas' Myck Kabongo has very good upside and plays like a traditional point guard.
Kabongo's draft stock dropped a bit after he was suspended for the first 23 games of the 2012-13 season, but there is no question that he is a very talented player. When he was eligible, he led the Longhorns in scoring (14.6), assists (5.5) and steals (2.0) and was second in rebounding (5.0).
He is on the small side, measuring just 6'1" and 180 pounds at the combine, but he makes up for it with great quickness and the ability to finish in traffic. Listen to Texas head coach Rick Barnes break down Kabongo's ability to finish on a fast break:
Kabongo has also shown a willingness to work on the defensive end, something that not all young guards have. That, combined with his ability to run an offense, will make Kabongo a solid backup point guard right away.
Shooting Guard: Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan
If the Pistons don't get a chance to draft Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore in the first round, they would be incredibly happy to see Michigan's Tim Hardaway Jr. fall to them in the second round. Hardaway has the talent to be a first-round pick, but it is not even close to a lock at this point. ESPN's Chad Ford has him ranked No. 34 on his most recent big board.
Hardaway can score in a variety of ways, has NBA three-point range and is a solid athlete. He was the second-best player on a Michigan team that lost in the NCAA championship game and has NBA pedigree, as his dad (Tim Hardaway Sr.) was a five-time All-Star.
Scouts worry that Hardaway is not elite at any aspect of the game, and that he is shorter than a prototypical shooting guard (he measured 6'4.5" at the combine).
Regardless, Hardaway has the talent and athleticism to be, at the minimum, a valuable role player on the wing for the Pistons. With more focus on defense, Hardaway could develop into a starter at some point.
Small Forward: Reggie Bullock, North Carolina
Small forward is another position where the Pistons desperately need to add talent. Reggie Bullock from North Carolina could become a solid 'three and D" player for the Pistons on the wing.
Bullock became a very effective shooter during his three seasons at North Carolina. He shot 48.3 percent from the field and 43.6 from behind the arc in his junior year. He also proved to be an effective rebounder, averaging 6.5 per game.
He is an excellent athlete, but, like many other second-round prospects, Bullock is short for his position (he measured under 6'6" at the combine).
Bullock's offensive game is not as versatile as Hardaway's, but he has better range. His shooting alone will allow him to find playing time on an NBA roster from Day 1.
Power Forward: C.J. Leslie, North Carolina State
The Pistons already have Greg Monroe at power forward, but they have very little depth in the frontcourt. C.J. Leslie from North Carolina State has the ability to play as an undersized stretch-4 in the NBA.
Measuring 6'7.5" at the combine, Leslie is a classic "tweener." He has elite athleticism and can rebound the ball (he averaged over seven in each of his three seasons at N.C.State), but at just 209 pounds he won't be able to guard bruising power forwards in the post.
With two true low-post players on the roster, Leslie could be a great change-of-pace player off the bench for the Pistons. He could also be very useful against teams like the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets that consistently use small-ball lineups.
Center: Lucas Nogueira, Brazil
There will be very few legitimate big men available in the second round of this year's draft. Lucas Nogueira from Brazil is one of them.
Nogueira is a very raw prospect and has little offensive talent, but he has the potential to be a difference-maker on the defensive end.
Nogueira is listed at 6'11" and 218 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan. He is clearly very thin for his position, but that is something that many international prospects address once they reach the NBA.
The Pistons already have Andre Drummond as their starting center of the future, but Nogueira has more potential than any big man available this late in the draft.
ESPN Insider Chad Ford wrote of Nogueira:
Nogueira has excellent potential as a rim protector at the NBA level, and even if he is stashed for another season or two -- he is under contract with Estudiantes until 2014 -- there are few defenders like him in this draft.
At this point in their rebuilding process, the Pistons have more pressing needs than a backup center and will likely want a player that can be on the roster this fall. However, Nogueira could be very valuable down the road.
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