By Deven Khrucell aka Pimp Scwalla
From the beginning of his tenure as president of basketball operations for the Detroit Pistons, Joe Dumars has been pretty hard to read when it comes to his prospective draft picks. No matter how many names are thrown in the mix for potential selections, I never come close to what Dumars is thinking. For example, in 2008 He made Walter SharpeDetroit’s top pick when most people barely even knew who he was. But after watching the 2009 NBA draft I might have a clue into the thinking process behind Dumars’s selections.
Since his first draft in 2000 when he decided to select Michigan State point guard Mateen Cleaves (passing on Hedo Turkoglu and Michael Redd), whenever Joe Dumars is in a bind and needs to reach into his bag of tricks, he usually comes out with a forward.When I took a count of each player that Dumars selected since becoming the Piston’s president, I found that out of a total of 23 picks, 14 of them were forwards and of those 14 forwards selected, 9 of them were small forwards, which is equal to the total number of picks at the other three positions combined. It’s apparent that Joe has a lot of love for the forwards—but why?
In an interview after selecting the Piston’s first round draft pick Austin Daye in the 2009 NBA draft, Joe Dumars told everyone that when drafting a player, he looks for someone that can play more than one position. But after taking a closer look at his draft track record, I think it’s a little more than that. I think a certain body type and ability gets his attention as well.
For example, not only is Tayshaun Prince able to play more than just the small forward position, his long lean frame and level of athleticism makes him one of the most versatile players in the Pistons line-up with the ability to play four positions. As a rookie, how nice was it to see Tayshaun at 6 ‘9′ slow down Allen Iverson in the 2003 playoffs and follow that performance up with locking up a very hot Tracey McGrady enabling Detroit to defeat Orlando.
His length also enabled him to disrupt an otherwise unstoppable Kobe Bryant in the 2004 NBA finals, which earned him the name “Kobe Stopper” by fans. He was as important as any other Piston during their championship run in 2004. Maybe that explains why Dumars, knowing how good Carmelo Anthony was at 6 ‘9′, couldn’t resist taking Darko Milicic who had the potential to play the same position at 7 feet tall.
Taking Darko with the third pick turned out to be Dumars’s worst decision to date–all other top five selections are, simply put, the franchise of their teams. In retrospect I’m sure he would have taking Anthony instead.
Carmelo Anthony wasn’t Joe Dumars’s only missed opportunity. In the 2001 draft that followed a season where the Pistons were just 32-50. Dumars was very high on a freshman forward from UNC Charlotte by the name of Rodney White. He saw enough in his game to pass up the likes of Joe Johnson, Richard Jefferson, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas.
This was at a time when Detroit had just lost superstar player Grant Hill and the best the Pistons had at point guard was a very limited, Chucky Atkins. But disappointment didn’t stop Dumars from continuing to pursue his type of players. In 2008 he took as he described it, a “long look” at UAB forward, Water Sharpe, who at the time, no one really even knew and then he drafted four more forwards the very next year in the 2009 NBA draft.
This goes to show that Joe Dumars just likes what he likes. He looks at players from a different perspective than other people do. That’s why he’s able to strike gold with Tayshaun Prince when many others passed him by and also fail miserably with Darko Milicic when others were wondering…”what the hell!” One thing’s for sure, when it goes good it really goes good and when it goes bad, he’s been able to weather the storm pretty nicely.