Detroit Pistons 2014 NBA Draft Targets: A Brief Overview
I know what you're thinking. Didn't the Detroit Pistons lose this pick?
In the now-regrettable Ben Gordon trade of 2012, the Pistons exchanged their troubled shooting guard and a future first-round pick for the expiring contract of Corey Maggette. That pick was protected and continues to be so, at least through next season. It was lottery protected last season, top-eight protected this year and top-one protected next year.
At the time, the thought was that the Pistons would be able to parlay the money they saved into pieces that would make Detroit a playoff-caliber team. Therefore, they wouldn't be too hurt to lose a later first-round pick.
However, the Pistons squandered that money this past summer and are now no where closer to contention than they were before. In fact, they are only ahead of last year's pace by two games.
But rehashing the past won't help matters. Back to that pick.
It had been widely assumed that the Pistons were going to lose that pick this season. The Eastern Conference is historically bad and this year's draft class is historically deep. That's a recipe for tanking and that certainly has played out this year.
However, the Pistons have quietly slid down the standings and now currently have the eighth-worst record in the league.
There still are 17 games left on the slate so there's no telling how things will play out. But the Pistons have a rough schedule left with two games left against the Indiana Pacers, as well as games against the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.
It seems like a smart bet that the Pistons are going to be right in the thick of the mix to keep their pick.
In the coming weeks, we will spend more time going in-depth on potential prospects. But with March Madness coming up, it makes sense to do a brief overview of some of the players the Pistons could be scouting.
Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona
I know, the Pistons already have an athletic power forward that can't shoot from the perimeter in Josh Smith.
But Aaron Gordon brings a lot more to the table. He can jump out of the gym, shows good instincts on defense and appears to be very coachable.
Coming out of high school, Gordon was one of the most highly touted incoming freshmen in the land. He has good size (6'9", 220 lbs) and doesn't shy away from physical play.
His offensive game hasn't come around yet and he doesn't seem to be a rim-protector on defense.
He is averaging 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds but has shown glimpses of real ability.
So where exactly would he fit with Detroit? Well, at the moment, he really doesn't. But he does open up quite a few options for the team.
They could actively shop both Josh Smith and Greg Monroe without the fear of losing depth up front. If they were able to get rid of Monroe and improve another aspect of the team, perhaps the small forward position, then they could present a nightmare option for opponents having Gordon come off the bench.
They also would get younger and have Gordon and Drummond on the books for years to come.
And while Gordon has struggled at times with his shot, he has good form and should only improve.
Tyler Ennis, PG, Syracuse
Heading into his first season of college ball, Tyler Ennis had to overcome some of the same knocks against him as former University of Michigan point guard Trey Burke.
Some questioned his athleticism, some his speed and even some his leadership.
But Ennis has quickly jumped up the draft boards and now appears to be the best point guard in the country.
He is lightning quick, commands respect from his teammates and is a true pass-first point guard. He is the type of point guard who makes his teammates better and puts them in the best position to succeed.
He is certain to be one of the bigger stories during this year's tournament.
So how does he fit with Detroit?
The Pistons have lacked a good point guard since Chauncey Billups left town. He could immediately make life easier for the likes of Andre Drummond and the rest of the bigs.
He has solid range and should only get better from deep, which will open up more space down low. He also looks really good on pick-and-rolls, something that is absolutely crucial for this team.
Moreover, he would be a leader on a team sorely lacking one and given his quick hands and good defensive instincts, he could make the transition game even that much better.
The one problem is that the Pistons already have a point guard under contract in Brandon Jennings. His contract isn't terrible, but then again his play often has been.
Detroit should be able to eventually unload him even if they have to bite the bullet in the meantime.
Nik Stauskas, SG/SF, Michigan
Personally, this is the most intriguing player in the bunch as far as how he fits the Pistons.
Detroit needs smart ball players with range and passing ability. Stauskas might be the best shooter in the country. He has range that extends well beyond the college three-point line—so presumably the NBA three-pointer will be no problem—and he is the best passer on Michigan's squad and perhaps in the Big Ten.
Stauskas also plays with a swagger, never afraid to launch a shot, and he refuses to back down from any opponent. This kid plays the game the right way.
He also is more athletic than you might think given his tendency to hang on the perimeter. Defensively, he is passive at best but that doesn't necessarily make him bad. He has good length and could develop this aspect of his game with time.
So how does he fit in Detroit? Stauskas might be the best fit for the Pistons in this draft. He could immediately slide into the small forward spot and open up plenty of space down low. He also would pair extremely well with Greg Monroe in the two man game.
Stauskas is like a rich man's Kyle Singler with better range, athleticism and upside.
Gary Harris, SG, Michigan State
Gary Harris is one of the most talented shooting guards in the country. His mix of athleticism, intelligence and range make him a likely stud at the next level.
Additionally, Harris is a good defender who could see that as his meal ticket at the next level.
So how does he fit Detroit? This is where things get a little tricky.
The Pistons drafted a shooting guard in the lottery last year and it seems harsh to give up on him already. Additionally, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope brings a similar skill set.
That being said, both would come cheap and could be retained on the same roster. It would also promote a healthy competition between the two, with the winner winning the starting gig and the loser either being a sixth man or trade bait.
Both are good players, but Harris has more upside. Depending on how well he plays in the tournament, Harris could shoot up draft boards.
Rodney Hood, SG/SF, Duke
Rodney Hood is a player similar to Stauskas. He is long, lean and can shoot the lights out.
Athletically he is solid, if unspectacular, and could get better at the next level.
What you have to love about Hood is his basketball intelligence. He plays smart and is a product of a system that doesn't allow many mistakes.
He's going to have to get stronger in order to improve defensively at the next level, but that doesn't seem like it's going to be a problem.
So how does he fit Detroit? In a number of ways, he could be a perfect fit.
Obviously, I like Stauskas better for Detroit's style of play, but Hood would be a nice consolation prize should Stauskas get hot in the tournament and come off the board quickly.
It will be interesting to see how Hood fares in the tournament when defenses play more physically and teams try to eliminate him as a threat.
Doug McDermott, PF, Creighton
Doug McDermott has taken the college world by storm this season, averaging 26.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and hitting 44.7 percent from deep.
McDermott is a smart player, the prototypical coach's son who has all the intangibles you want in a ball player.
He's a solid passer, good rebounder and possesses the quick hands that make up for a lack of lateral quickness and overall strength.
McDermott makes his teammates better and could be an amazing pick-and-roll player at the next level.
The problem that you run into with McDermott is just where exactly should he play at the next level? At 6'8", 225 pounds he lacks the ideal size to play power forward. However, he lacks the quickness to play small forward. Can you imagine McDermott trying to stay in front of the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James? Sure, everyone struggles with those guys, but McDermott would be severely overmatched.
How does he fit Detroit?
This is an intriguing player to consider. Offensively, he could be a stud in Detroit. He has the intelligence, character and intensity to really help improve the culture in Detroit. However, he's gonna struggle mightily defensively wherever he plays. Even more so than Hood or Stauskas, McDermott seems like a real liability on defense.