Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Looking Ahead to Next Year: Backcourt Trade Targets

The Pistons need upgrades at almost every spot on the roster aside from the PF and C positions.  Not only do they need starter quality players, but they need depth everywhere too.  Free agent options in the backcourt were covered here.  The Pistons will likely fill one of these holes in the draft if they can keep their pick, but their quest to add shooting and defense on the perimeter shouldn't be limited to the draft and free agency.  They should be on the lookout for possible options on the trade market that can be had for a reasonable price.  As far as the Pistons roster goes, it's safe to say that the only player who is off limits is Andre Drummond.  Everybody else is available to offer up in a deal to acquire talent.  Let's take a look at who might be available through trade to fix the Pistons backcourt for next season...

Click "Read More" for the list of possible backcourt trade targets...

2014 Season Review: Lineup Analysis

If you've been watching the playoffs over the course of the last 8 days, you may or may not have noticed that the Pistons aren't in them.  There's a myriad of reasons for this, but the short version of it is, they weren't able to coerce even a .500 record out of a respectable group of NBA talent.  The long version can be found in the fact that out of a roster with 15 guys on it the Pistons five most used lineups, totaling over 1,500 minutes of court time, had an average net efficiency rating of -8.74.  Let's take a look at what those lineups were and try to see where things went wrong with each one:

Click "Read More" to see the horror...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

2014 Season Review: Luigi Datome

LUIGI DATOME - SF - 6'8, 215

For me, Luigi Datome was the second biggest disappointment this season.  His highlight video and the stories of scouts and media told of a guy who could do it all on offense: hit threes, create space off the dribble and find open teammates.  An Italian League MVP that would bring the Pistons an excellent scoring dynamic off the bench.  It became painfully obvious within the first few games of the 2013-14 season that Datome was not what he was hyped up to be.  He struggled to score, struggled to shoot and certainly wasn't a playmaker.  Datome looked lost for long stretches of the season, only managing to score in double figures twice, with both occasions coming in garbage minutes.  With all of the struggles the Pistons had on the sidelines between Mo Cheeks and John Loyer, it's possible that Datome wasn't used properly.  However, the numbers seem to suggest it wouldn't have really mattered:

8.0 2.4 40.9% 38.7% 17.9% 10.6% 7.0% 9.8%
Click "Read More" for the rest of the article...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting: 1st Round - Marcus Smart

Marcus Smart raised a few eyebrows when he chose to return to school for his sophomore season last spring.  A likely 2nd overall pick in 2013 with an almost certain lock to go in the top three, Smart decided to return and work on his game at the college level.  Twelve months later, Smart has done little to change scouts' and fans' opinions of him, for better or worse, and is slated to go in the 5-10 range in a much stronger draft class.  He's still a huge body with great athleticism and playmaking ability.  He's also still a questionable outside shooter with some growing up to do.  The question marks around Marcus Smart are what will keep him firmly outside of the top tier of prospects in this year's draft, as he's absolutely an elite talent.

Statistically speaking, Smart made reasonable improvements to his game in his sophomore season.  Smart used 29.2% of Oklahoma State's possessions in 2013-14, as compared to 27.2% in his freshman year.  With a bigger role, Smart still managed to improve his TS% to 55.2% (53.2 in '12-'13) thanks to an increase in free throw rate and conversion on two-point attempts.  Smart improved his two-point percentage to 51.4% as a sophomore after converting 46.5% as a freshman and also managed a Free Throw Rate around 66%.  Smart also improved his non-scoring numbers, upping his Assist Rate by over three percentage points and decreasing his Turnover Rate by four points.  The only area that saw a decline in Smart's game in 2013-14 was his FT% which decreased from 77% to 72%.  For all of the negative talk surrounding Smart's game this season, he produced at a very high level.  Let's take a closer look at what Smart brings to the table, and what he can improve upon...

Click "Read More" for the rest of the scouting report...

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Season Review: Peyton Siva

PEYTON SIVA - PG - 6'0, 185

When compared to where he was to start the season, it isn't hard to argue that Peyton Siva made the biggest in-season leap of any Pistons player in 2013-14.  Siva only managed to get in to 17 games before the calendar hit April, but when it did, he turned it on and finished the season relatively strong.  Aided by an injury to Will Bynum and Brandon Jennings' general inconsistency, Siva played at least 14 minutes in the Pistons' final seven games.  Siva scored in double digits twice, and averaged just under 3 APG in that stretch, showing pieces of his game that simply didn't exist at the NBA level in October.  Siva also saw action in 10 D-League games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, posting decent numbers.  Here's what Siva's production at both levels looked like this year:

5.7 2.3 42.5% 37.7% 28.0% 0.4 21.0% 22.1%


Click "Read More" for the rest of the article...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 Mock Draft 4.0 (2nd Round)

*First Round
31st - Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Brown - SG - Missouri, Jr. - 6'4, 205

Brown is a versatile scoring guard who can bring a lot to an offense off the bench.  Shot 41% from three this past season, but has the athleticism and size to score in traffic too.  Doesn't do much outside of scoring.

32nd - Philadelphia 76ers - Johnny O'Bryant - F/C - LSU, Jr. - 6'9, 260

The 76ers need depth at pretty much every position.  With only Nerlens Noel, Thad Young and Arnett Moultrie guaranteed to be back in the frontcourt, O'Bryant would be a good fit in Philly.  Would provide a nice blend of scoring on the block and out to about 15 feet for the league's worst offense.

33rd - Cleveland Cavaliers - Jordan Clarkson - G - Missouri, Jr. - 6'4, 185

Clarkson is a big combo guard who likes to get out in transition where his lack of a jumper is minimized.  Could thrive as a bench guard in the right situation.  Has the physical tools to excel defensively.

34th - Utah Jazz - C.J. Wilcox - SG - Washington, Sr. - 6'6, 195

Wilcox isn't much more than a shooter, but could be a very serviceable role player.  Shot 39.1% on over 7 attempts per game as a senior.

35th - Dallas Mavericks - Thanasis Antetokounmpo - SF - D-League, 1992 - 6'7, 210

Antetokounmpo is the older brother of Bucks' wing Giannis, and he's almost as physically astonishing, with long arms like his brother.  Should bring defense and slashing to whoever drafts him.

36th - Los Angeles Lakers - Semaj Christon - PG - Xavier, So. - 6'3, 190

Super-athletic PG who should bring energy on defense and scoring before passing on offense.  Best offensive asset is ability to get to the FT line; shot nearly 7 free throws per game.

37th - Sacramento Kings - DeAndre Daniels - SF - UConn, Jr. - 6'8, 195

Daniels showcased a well-rounded offensive game in the tournament as he helped propel UConn to the title game.  Long forward with a lot of potential if he can add strength and be more consistent.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the 2nd Round...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2014 Mock Draft 4.0 (1st Round)


2nd Round
1st - Boston Celtics - Andrew Wiggins - SF - Kansas, Fr. - 6'8, 200
Celtics' odds of #1 pick: 10.3%

The NBA Draft is generally about potential, and that's the basis for Wiggins over Jabari Parker with the first pick.  Wiggins is the superior athlete, has more upside on defense and with an added jump shot could be just as good of a scorer as Parker.  Further down the road, Wiggins could also benefit from improving his ability to create looks for others.  First things first though, as improving his outside shot should be the first order of business for him.  If the Celtics manage to get lucky and nab the first pick, all notions of trading Rajon Rondo would likely disappear.  A lineup with Rondo and Wiggins operating the fast break would be very fun.  If Joel Embiid's back is fully healed, he would also be a candidate to go first overall if Boston gets the top pick.

2nd - Philadelphia 76ers - Jabari Parker - SF - Duke, Fr. - 6'8, 230
76ers' odds of #2 pick: 18.8%

Jabari Parker ended all speculation that he might return to school on Wednesday by formally announcing his intentions to enter the 2014 draft.  Parker's game is certainly NBA-ready as his vast array of offensive weapons should translate nicely to the next level.  Can play inside and out, and should be a better three point shooter than what he showed at the end of the season.  Ball handling is good for this stage, but will need to get better if he's going to be a full-time SF.  Could be questionable defensively if he proves to not be quick enough to defend SFs or big enough to defend PFs.  A lineup of Carter-Williams, Stauskas (see pick 11), Parker, Thad Young and Nerlens Noel could vastly improve Philadelphia's pathetic offense.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the first round...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

2014 Season Review: Charlie Villanueva


The end of the line has finally arrived for Charlie Villanueva's Pistons career.  Most people had high hopes for what he could bring to the offensive end of the floor for Detroit, but those hopes didn't take long to dissipate.  Villanueva's lack of consistency and defensive ability led to the $7.5M per year played never seeing more than 24 minutes per game in a Pistons uniform.  $37.7 million dollars and five years later, the Pistons are finally out from one of the league's worst contracts over the past five seasons.  Villanueva was rarely allowed to play long stretches this season, only amassing 180 minutes over 20 games played.  With that in mind, here are the numbers that Villanueva managed in his limited playing time:

12.7 4.6 46.9% 25.0% .152 10.3% 5.5% 6.7%
Well, if you didn't get why you didn't see much of Charlie this season before, you should now.  On top of being a poor shooter and a mediocre rebounder for his position, Villanueva was more likely to turn the ball over than set up his teammates.  Villanueva attempted 61.27% of his shots from behind the arc this season, which will usually yield a low Free Throw Rate like CV's rate of .152.  Villanueva's 99 ORtg ranks him only ahead of four other Pistons (Smith, Billups, Datome, Siva).  Not a good signal when you were signed to provide a team with offense to cancel out your poor defense.

Villanueva's shot chart is just brutal.  This is the shot chart of a player that Joe Dumars signed to be a stretch four.  These are the things that end with GMs "resigning".  I don't even really know what else to say about something that ugly.  The fact that he managed to get up 56 threes in 180 minutes while leaving the perimeter zones bloody speaks for itself.  


2014-15 Status: Unrestricted Free Agent

For the first time in five years in 2014-15, the Pistons will start a season without Charlie Villanueva on the roster.  Pour one out for him.  I highly doubt that he'll be able to latch on anywhere for more than the veteran's minimum.  However, GMs do stupid things and I bet he'll end up on an NBA roster somewhere for next season.  Cross your fingers and hope it's in the division.  If you've read this season review and Tony Mitchell's and are thinking "Hey, these are really short on content", you're right!  These are being done in order of minutes played for the season, so they'll be short on content by nature until the rotation guys hit.  Hold tight.


*Follow Six Championship Drive on Twitter, @Kevin6CD

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting - 2nd Round - Jabari Brown

If the Pistons choose to stand pat with their frontcourt bench options this offseason, a long list of second round wings will get a look from the front office going into the draft.  One of those second round wings is Missouri junior SG Jabari Brown, a prolific scorer and shooter.  Brown is old for a junior, at 22 years old, after transferring from Oregon to Missouri following his freshman season.  The move seems to have paid dividends as Brown had a great junior season for the Tigers.  He shot 46.7% from the field overall and 41.0% from three en route to 19.9 PPG as Mizzou's leading scorer and outside shooter.  Brown's ability to hit shots from the perimeter would be very enticing for a Pistons team that finished 29th in the league in three point shooting, at an even 32% for the season.

In my opinion, fixing the outside shooting is the biggest task for the Pistons this offseason.  The Pistons only had one serviceable outside shooter this season (Singler) and would benefit from surrounding their attention-demanding big men with more perimeter shooting.  Brown certainly fits the bill, so if he's around when the Pistons pick in the 2nd round (38th, most likely), he should be a consideration.  Let's take a look at how he would fit the Pistons.

Click "Read More" for a scouting report on Jabari Brown...

Saturday, April 12, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting - 1st Round - Kyle Anderson

*Follow Six Championship Drive on Twitter, @Kevin6CD

UCLA sophomore SF Kyle Anderson's stock has risen steadily over the course of the 2013-14 season.  Largely considered a mid-to-late first round pick at the beginning of the year, his play down the stretch for the Bruins inspired discussions of Anderson as a high lottery pick among some draft experts.  Rational thought seems to be that he's still slotted for the middle of the first round.  Playing as a point forward this year, Anderson produced averages of 14.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 6.5 APG on .480/.483/.737 shooting.  Anderson's 48.3 3P% can be a bit deceiving as he only attempted 58 threes this season.  Anderson was only 8-28 from three as a freshman; the jury is still out as to what kind of perimeter shooter he is and can be. 

Anderson is ranked 19th by Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com and is slotted 20th by Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.  He boasts a 7'2.5" wingspan according to his DraftExpress profile, which is superb length for a SF.  That's about as far as the physical positives go for Anderson at this point as he doesn't have much strength or quickness and only claims a 33" vertical.  On most scouting reports, these are the main downsides listed for Anderson.  His physical limitations are cause for concern on the defensive end of the floor, and rightly so, as he will likely be burned off the dribble and in the post early and often in his career.  Regardless of his physical constraints, Anderson should be an enticing prospect for the Pistons, whether it be at 8 or, preferably later in the first round if they were to trade down.  His heady offensive game and elite passing ability for a SF would offer a major upgrade at that position on the offensive end of the floor for Detroit.

Click "Read More" for more on Anderson's game...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

2014 Season Review: Tony Mitchell

TONY MITCHELL - PF - 6'9, 235


2013 second round pick Tony Mitchell played sparingly this season, so any evaluation of him should be taken with a grain of salt.  Simply put, we don't really know much more about him than we did in July at the end of Summer League.  The things we do know are: he's a freak athlete, a solid rebounder and extremely raw.  Mitchell only saw 66 minutes of NBA action this season to go along with 262 minutes of D-League play.  Mitchell didn't post impressive numbers at either level, but that was to be expected going into this season.  Any hopes that Mitchell wouldn't be a multi-year project were merely hopes.  Every other profile in this series will use NBA stats, but for this case, it makes more sense to look at Mitchell's D-League numbers:

12.8 7.6 52.8% 17.9% 5.3% 22.4% 1.1 0.6

There is really not a whole lot to like from that line, aside from his rebounding and shot blocking numbers.  Other than that, he was merely average from a scoring efficiency standpoint and had a severe issue with taking care of the ball.  For anybody who is familiar with Mitchell, this shouldn't come as any surprise.  The numbers pretty much line up with what Mitchell did in his sophomore year at North Texas after having a stellar freshman season where he scored with more efficiency. 



2014-15 Status: Under contract, $816,482

It's hard to say with any certainty that Mitchell stands to see more minutes on the floor in NBA action next season.  If he can use this summer to develop any semblance of an offensive game to the point where he isn't a liability, he just might carve out a role as an energy-providing big man off the bench.  That role has been filled by Jonas Jerebko the last few years; and Mitchell's situation would certainly be helped if Jerebko doesn't exercise his player option in the offseason.  If Jerebko is back, Mitchell may be the biggest beneficiary of the Pistons having a direct D-League affiliate in Grand Rapids.  More minutes of game action would help Mitchell develop a better feel for the speed and nuances of the pro game. 

Mitchell has all of the physical tools necessary to be a productive role player in the NBA, if not more.  If he takes the time to work in the offseason on his scoring touch, he just might give us more than cool pre-game dunks.  For now, this is all we have for a glimpse into his future.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Looking Ahead to Next Year: Possible Frontcourt FA Additions

*Follow Six Championship Drive on Twitter, @Kevin6CD
**Possible Backcourt FA Additions

For a breakdown on the Pistons' available cap space and who might be gone after this season, click on the link above for the backcourt article.

The frontcourt is where the true action will be happening this summer.  Detroit has a choice to be made with regards to the Josh Smith-Greg Monroe issue.  Do they go with the younger, offensive-minded player in Greg Monroe?  Or do they choose the veteran, defensive-minded, offensive black hole in Josh Smith?  It's clear that one of the two has to go, which will certainly open up a whole at the SF spot.  Assuming the Pistons don't have to send their pick to the Bobcats, they could very well fill that hole in the draft.  If they don't, a starter quality player will be a must-have commodity, either via free agency or a trade.  Kyle Singler is a solid player, but if he's starting, he needs to be surrounded with top-notch talent.  Below is an idea of what the Pistons depth chart will look like going into free agency.

Position Starter Bench Bench
PG Brandon Jennings Will Bynum Peyton Siva
SG KCP/Draft Pick KCP ???
SF Kyle Singler/Draft Pick Kyle Singler/Luigi Datome Luigi Datome
PF Josh Smith/Greg Monroe Tony Mitchell Draft Pick?
C Andre Drummond Draft Pick? ???

Unless Tony Mitchell shows massive improvements in the offseason, the Pistons will need to add two quality frontcourt players as backups, in addition to having to address a possible hole at SF.  Josh Harrellson played well for a stretch in December, but has disappeared after an injury; he likely won't be back next year as the Pistons hold an option on his contract.  Let's take a look at the free agent options to fill the potential holes in the Pistons' frontcourt for next season...

Click "Read More" for the free agent frontcourt players the Pistons might be interested in...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Looking Ahead to Next Year: Possible Backcourt FA Targets

*Follow Six Championship Drive on Twitter, @Kevin6CD

Free agency has gotten to be one of the scarier parts of being a Pistons fan over the past five or six years.  It's through that avenue that the Pistons have crippled any signs of progress brought on by the development of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.  This offseason, before any deal for Greg Monroe is factored in, the Pistons figure to have roughly $20.5 million dollars to spend in free agency.  For the sake of this exercise, we'll assume that one of Monroe or Smith is gone, and that their roughly $14M in salary has been turned into $10M in players coming back to the Pistons.  That would leave the Pistons with about $15M to spend going into free agency, assuming Jonas Jerebko doesn't exercise his $4.5M player option.  While Jerebko probably won't find a deal worth that much yearly on the open market, I think he has tired of playing in Detroit.  This is mostly based on his recent comments about how Detroit's coaching search will affect his decision.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the article...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting - 1st Round - K.J. McDaniels

*Follow Six Championship Drive on Twitter, @Kevin6CD
**1st Round: Dante Exum
***2nd Round: Mitch McGary, Johnny O'Bryant

K.J. McDaniels has rocketed up draft boards this season as his high-level athleticism propelled a sub-par Clemson team into the NIT.  Jonathan Givony of Draft Express ranks McDaniels 23rd on his big board, as the #2 junior in the draft.  If you want to get technical, his #1 junior, P.J. Hairston is in the D-League after being kicked out of UNC, so you could say McDaniels is the #1 junior.  McDaniels doesn't quite have elite size to play the SF position in the NBA at 6'6, but his length and athleticism should mitigate that against the league's taller wings.  His 6'9.5" wingspan won't hurt either.

The Pistons could have an opening at SF going into this year's draft, assuming they move one of either Josh Smith or Greg Monroe.  While it wouldn't be ideal to add a wing who isn't a strong shooter, players of McDaniels' athleticism don't come along in every draft.  He already possesses an NBA body and physicality, but needs to add some of the skills that come along with playing on the wing.  At 21 years old, McDaniels has plenty of time to expand his range and improve his ball-handling.  Let's take a look at what specifically makes his game tick...

Click "Read More" for the rest of the scouting report...