In an offseason full of intriguing moves for the Detroit Pistons, the signing of Luigi Datome has been largely overshadowed.
The Italian small forward will make less of an impact on the team's 2013-14 season than Josh Smith or Brandon Jennings, but he has a skill set that will help the Pistons and help him earn immediate playing time.
The 25-year-old is signed for just $3.5 million over two years, a deal that could turn out to be an absolute bargain. And he is young enough to grow with the core that GM Joe Dumars has built over the past three years.
Datome found his way to the NBA by proving in the Italian League that he can do one thing at an elite level: shoot the basketball.
In his final season abroad, he shot 51.5 percent from the floor, 39.4 percent from three and 92.6 percent from the stripe. For a team that has real concerns about floor spacing, his perimeter shooting will be in high demand off the bench.
He will have plenty of opportunities to play at the end of close games with his elite free-throw shooting. When paired with Chauncey Billups, they will have two players on the court who shoot above 90 percent from the line. Only 12 players who shot more than 30 free throws a season ago shot above that mark.
While most of his points will come from the perimeter, Datome has good athleticism for a shooter. He runs the court well and has shown the ability to finish above the rim, even in traffic.
On the defensive end he will be a bit of a liability, and it may take some time for him to adjust to the NBA game. Coach Maurice Cheeks and the rest of his staff will be tasked with getting him to learn their defensive system as quickly as possible.
Get to know the ponytailed man
Datome has been playing basketball professionally since the age of 15 and was the Italian League MVP last season. He is a member of the Italian national team, and played in the Eurobasket 2013 tournament this summer.
Datome has gotten advice from other Italian NBA players since signing with the Pistons. He told Dave Pemberton of the News-Herald:
[Danilo] Gallinari and [Andrea] Bargnani called me to tell me congratulations. They told me that it was a good choice for me ... They told me a lot of stuff, inside the court and outside the court. And also on the national team I will ask them things that will help me make the jump. They were excited for me because we are friends and they were happy for me like I was happy for them when they joined the NBA.
According to the Detroit Free Press, his boyhood idol was a player who spent part of his childhood in Italy: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Datome came to the U.S. in 2010 to watch Games 4 and 6 of the NBA Finals, when the Lakers played the Boston Celtics.
Like some other European players in the NBA, Datume is well-rounded off the court. According to the Italian website Spettacolo Fanpage (and with the help of Google Translate), "In his spare time, rather than playing the Play Station, he prefers to play the guitar and reads book [sic]."
But basketball is the subject of most of his Tweets.
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