Pistons Lead

Analyzing Detroit’s 1st Round Draft Options

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For the first time in years, the Pistons will have a first round pick being made by someone other than Stan Van Gundy.  Last year showed that Ed Stefanski can find something in the deep reaches of the draft, nailing second round pick Bruce Brown. Detroit has some noticeable holes in their roster and will be hoping to get something out of the 15th pick in this year’s top-heavy draft.  If Stefanski can replicate last year’s draft success, a repeat postseason appearance should be in the cards.  Detroit’s options are plentiful in draft that many predict to be chaotic.  Presented below are summaries of five players most linked to the Pistons, as well as comparisons to past Detroit players to give the fans an idea of what they may be able to expect.

Hoosier Dreams

Coming into the season the Indiana Hoosiers had high expectations, mostly tied to the promise of incoming freshman Romeo Langford.  He is a versatile athlete standing at 6’6″ with a 6’11″ wingspan, giving him the build of the shooting guard in today’s NBA.  Indiana was not able to hit their expected heights and some of the falls on Langford as well.  He suffered a torn ligament in his thumb, and his shooting stroke struggled.

Langford still posted averages of 16.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 2.3 apg but was mostly inefficient.  The flashes were there, however, and some of his struggles can clearly be attributed to this injury.  While some scouts compare him to former Piston Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, this is not the worst case scenario for Detroit.  Langford would add needed length and shooting to the perimeter, which they clearly missed this season.  His ceiling is also far higher than KCP’s, which could grant the Pistons a high-quality starter that can be hard to come by in this range of the draft.

Fallen From Grace

Along the same lines as the former Hoosier, Nassir Little arrived at Chapel Hill with lofty expectations.  Even worse than Langford, things never seemed to click with the Tar Heels top recruit this season.  Little was the 6th ranked player in high school a year ago, just behind Langford, but he struggled from the start under Roy Williams and was eventually outshined by fellow likely-Lottery pick Coby White.  Nassir Little has all the measurables of a future standout.  He is 6’6″ with a 7’1″ wingspan and should have the ability to shine on both ends of the floor.  Unfortunately he was not able to consistently lock down a starting spot and posted mediocre averages of 9.8 ppg and 4.6 rpg.  The most glaring statistic may be shooting 26.9 percent from long range.  For a team that is thirsting for outside shooting, this may be too much to overcome.

Nassir Little has all the potential in the world and was a late bloomer in high school.  The argument could be made that he was not given enough time to grow in college and that landing in the right pro system is exactly what he needs.  Depending on the Piston fan, the fact that he looks like the second coming of Stanley Johnson is either a blessing or a curse.  Of Detroit’s options, Little may be the best positional fit.  Considering the team just sent Johnson away when he was the only perimeter defender on the team, the decision should be pretty simple here.

Trojan Horse

Another one of Detroit’s options could help address a thin backcourt.  Described as the ideal point guard for a team in need of a backup at the position, as well as a future, Kevin Porter, Jr. will get a long look by the Pistons front office.  Porter showed flashes as a scorer in his brief stint with the Trojans, but his stint was also marred by controversy.  He was suspended for a time for undisclosed conduct issues, and when he did play he was wildly inconsistent.  He also suffered a thigh injury during the season, so it was tough for him to ever get on track.  Porter looks to be a spot-on three point shooter, averaging 42 percent in college, which could be enough to make the Pistons bite.

Kevin Porter has been compared by many scouts to JR Smith and former Piston Rodney Stuckey.  This is the type of boom or bust pick where if he hits, he can be a key contributor off the bench for a playoff team.  Detroit’s locker room is full of veterans and would likely be able to handle any sort of personality that is introduced to the group.  While there may be safer options at this pick, shooting and scoring are always hard to pass up on.

Possible Her(r)o

The most mocked player to the Pistons as of late is Tyler Herro, the versatile guard out of Kentucky.  He posted very impressive numbers in his one season in Lexington.  Herro averaged 14 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 2.5 apg with shooting splits of 46-36-94.  He was a creative playmaker for the young team with the ability to provide shooting on and off the ball.  The only current issue with Herro is his lack of length.  His 6’3 wingspan will limit him defensively in the NBA, but as a reserve shooting spark it is something that the team may be able to overcome. Perimeter shooting is always a need in today’s NBA, and Herro’s stroke may be the safest skill among Detroit’s options.

The lazy comparison getting thrown around for Tyler Herro is Luke Kennard.  His ceiling could be fellow former Wildcat Devin Booker, but that is lofty.  A likely ceiling for Herro is a Courtney Lee-type, which can contribute to a playoff team.

The Great Elder

Everyone discussed so far have been of the one-and-done variety.  Therefore, Virginia Tech’s Nickeil Alexander-Walker feels like the veteran of the core bunch having played an additional season.  He has shown the ability to play both guard positions as the team needs.  He posted averages of 16.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 4 apg on 37% from three.  Adding a 6’5 guard with a 6’9.5 wingspan would give the Pistons length and resiliency in the back court with additional floor spacing.  He is less heralded than some of the other options but the numbers are impressive.

Comparisons for Alexander-Walker are kind of all over the place, from former Spartan Gary Harris to former Piston Arron Afflalo.  Some even say he could be like the player Pistons fans wish they had been able to draft last year: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.  If the former Hokie can perform like any of these three, the Motown faithful would be happy.

The Best of the Rest

While these are the most probably of Detroit’s options at 15, there are countless other choices.  Bol Bol showed how truly dominant he could be in his short stint in Oregon, but he unsurprisingly got injured.  His frame does not look like it will be able to hold up for a long career. Also, the positional overlap does not fit as well with Detroit.  Cam Johnson showed that he can be a 3-and-D role player in the NBA.  However, he is already 23 and going at 15 may be a little bit of a reach for him.  If the Pistons had the opportunity to trade into the early 20s he would be a perfect fit. The reach may be worthwhile.

The Pistons have a big decision to make and only about a week to finalize their process.  The pressure is on for this front office. This is their first chance to show what they look for in a first round pick.  The SVG era left a bad taste in many fans’ mouths.  Getting off on the right foot with a first rounder would go a long way in winning some fans back.  Shooting and perimeter play will make a lot of fans happy.  These traits should help the Pistons as they look toward free agency and the future.

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