Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Draft Review and Grades: Pacific Division

The first big piece of the NBA offseason has came and gone, with every team in the NBA having their chance at adding pieces to their roster through the draft.  There were some puzzling picks (Bruno Caboclo anybody?) and some savvy moves as there are every year.  This year's draft lived up to its level of hype from an entertainment standpoint and it should be fun to watch the moves play out.  The next step is the addition of any undrafted free agents before the summer leagues start in Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21).  With about a week until then, let's take a division-by-division look at what each team has done with this year's draft class so far, and assign some grades.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Draft Review and Grades: Atlantic Division

The first big piece of the NBA offseason has came and gone, with every team in the NBA having their chance at adding pieces to their roster through the draft.  There were some puzzling picks (Bruno Caboclo anybody?) and some savvy moves as there are every year.  This year's draft lived up to its level of hype from an entertainment standpoint and it should be fun to watch the moves play out.  The next step is the addition of any undrafted free agents before the summer leagues start in Orlando (July 5-11) and Las Vegas (July 11-21).  With about a week until then, let's take a division-by-division look at what each team has done with this year's draft class so far, and assign some grades.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

2014 NBA Draft Preview

The Pistons only have one pick going into tonight's draft, and unless things change they'll be waiting until pick #38 to make a selection.  While things may be a bit boring from a Pistons standpoint, the draft figures to provide plenty of entertainment, as the 36 hours leading up to it have offered deals and rumors galore.  In the last day and a half, the Knicks dealt Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to the Mavs for Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and the 34th and 51st picks, and the Nuggets acquired Arron Afflalo from Orlando for Evan Fournier and the 56th pick tonight.  Other rumors about a variety of picks and players have been swirling, and I'm sure there will be a myriad of deals completed throughout the afternoon and the evening.

The draft has been the subject of attention around here for the last few months, and I've covered several players who could be around when the Pistons pick, and a few who are available in the range of the pick Detroit gave to Charlotte.  You can find write-ups of every player I've scouted in the Big Board, which is in the tabs at the top of the page and a link to my final mock draft on the home page.  I would also suggest taking a look at some of the players Joe Dexter of Pistons Palace has broken down leading up to the draft.  Check them out here:


Due to a work commitment, I likely won't be home until the draft is just about over, so expect a reaction to the Pistons pick and all of the draft happenings some time this weekend.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Final 2014 Mock Draft: Round 2

#31 - Milwaukee Bucks - C.J. Wilcox - SG - Washington, Sr. - 6'6, 185

Wilcox could serve as shooting off the bench behind Giannis Antetokounmpo if the Bucks don't go with a big man here.

#32 - Philadelphia 76ers - Jerami Grant - SF - Syracuse, So. - 6'8, 214

Long, athletic forward that may struggle to score in halfcourt sets.  Has great defensive potential thanks to 7'2 wingspan.

#33 - Cleveland Cavaliers - Walter Tavares - C - Cape Verde, 1992 - 7'2, 265

Incredible physical specimen  who picked up basketball within the last few years. 7'9 wingspan, solid shot blocker, offensively challenged.

#34 - New York Knicks - Damien Inglis - SF - France, 1995 - 6'8, 240

Young, athletic, long forward.  Shot the ball fairly well in French pro ball last season, although his shot translating to the NBA is a bit of a question mark.  Good gamble for the Knicks.

#35 - Utah Jazz - Glenn Robinson III - SF - Michigan, So. - 6'7, 220 

I have the Jazz taking Saric with the 23rd pick in the first round, but he won't come stateside for another two years.  That would be a nice trial period for GRIII to see if he can continue his chemistry with Trey Burke.

#36 - Milwaukee Bucks - Nikola Jokic - C - Serbia, 1995 - 6'11, 250

Jokic is likely to come to the NBA immediately if his time asks it of him.  The Bucks may want to bring the talented big man over for depth if they move Larry Sanders.

#37 - Toronto Raptors - Jabari Brown - SG - Missouri, Jr. - 6'4, 205

Brown is a sharpshooter with a little bit of dribble attack to his game.  Won't be a great defender or playmaker, but should be reliable.

#38 - Detroit Pistons - DeAndre Daniels - SF - UConn, Jr. - 6'8, 196

Underperformed at UConn, but the talent level, athleticism and frame are there.  Needs to add some strength and be more aggressive, but could be a steal in the 2nd round.

#39 - Philadelphia 76ers - Jordan Clarkson - G - Missouri, Jr. - 6'5, 186

Attacking combo guard that lacks the ability to hit from the perimeter.  Excellent athlete and is a good enough passer to play large chunks of time at PG.

#40 - Minnesota Timberwolves - Bogdan Bogdanovic - SG - Serbia, 1992 - 6'6, 205

Long SG with good ball skills who is still improving as a shooter.  Could come over and play immediately.

#41 - Denver Nuggets - Josh Huestis - SF - Stanford, Sr. - 6'8, 230

Has the potential to develop into a defensive stopper, if he can score enough to keep himself on the floor.

#42 - Houston Rockets - Johnny O'Bryant - F/C - LSU, Jr. - 6'9, 260

Need more depth in the frontcourt after a draft's eve trade sending Omer Asik to the Pelicans for a first round pick(!!!).

#43 - Atlanta Hawks - Joe Harris - SG - Virginia, Sr. - 6'6, 215

Harris adds shooting and size to the Hawks backcourt.

#44 - Minnesota Timberwolves - Nick Johnson - G - Arizona, Jr. 6'3, 198

Combo guard with great athleticism and a knack for scoring the ball.  Could fill a role right away in the Wolves' backcourt.

#45 - Charlotte Hornets - Thanasis Antetokounmpo - SF - D-League, 1992 - 6'7, 210

Long, athletic defensive-minded player who's still trying to develop an offensive game.  D-League experience is a plus.

#46 - Washington Wizards - Vasilije Micic - PG - Serbia, 1994 - 6'4, 190

Washington could really use some help behind Wall.  Semaj Christon, Jahii Carson and Deonte Burton could also be options.

#47 - Philadelphia 76ers - Artem Klimenko - C - Russia, 1994 - 7'1, 230

Unless they plan on drafting the starting five for their D-League team in the 2nd round, a stash prospect might not be a bad idea.

#48 - Milwaukee Bucks - Deonte Burton - PG - Nevada, Sr. - 6'1, 193

Explosive athlete with a 39.5" vertical.  Not a great shooter, but can get inside and finish.

#49 - Chicago Bulls - Semaj Christon - PG - Xavier, So. - 6'3, 185

Could be a steal if he figures out how to shoot.  Bulls can never have enough insurance for Derrick Rose.

#50 - Phoenix Suns - Jahii Carson - PG - Arizona St., So. - 5'11, 180

The hometown, diminutive PG could be an insurance policy in the case that Eric Bledsoe leaves town this summer.  If he does, Dragic will need a backup.

#51 - New York Knicks - Dwight Powell - PF - Stanford, Sr. - 6'10, 240

Solid athlete with a versatile game.  Played the high post in Stanford's triangle offense and would be hard to pass up for Phil Jackson if he's still around.

#52 - Philadelphia 76ers - Patric Young - F/C - Florida, Sr. - 6'10, 247

Was looked at as a lottery pick after his first few years at Florida.  Could be a good value pick late in the 2nd round.

#53 - Minnesota Timberwolves - Cory Jefferson - PF - Baylor, Sr. - 6'9, 220

Jefferson could offer a similar skillset to current Wolves frontcourt player Dante Cunningham, who has a hard time staying out of trouble.

#54 - Philadelphia 76ers - LaQuinton Ross - SF - Ohio State, Jr. - 6'8, 220

Talented player who never really put it all together at OSU.  Could be worth a gamble late in the 2nd.

#55 - Miami Heat - Jordan Bachynski - C - Arizona St., Sr. - 7'2, 265

Miami's struggles to defend the rim have been well-documented.  Bachynski blocked four shots per game as a senior.  Already 24 years old.

#56 - Denver Nuggets - James McAdoo - PF - North Carolina, Jr. - 6'9, 230

Athletic, NBA-ready body; doesn't appear to have the requisite skillset to live up to what was once thought to be his potential.

#57 - Indiana Pacers - Russ Smith - G - Louisville, Sr. - 6'0, 165

Small scoring guard who will have to learn how to run the point as well in the NBA.

#58 - San Antonio Spurs - Alec Brown- F/C - UW-Milwaukee, Sr. - 7'1, 235

Fits the Matt Bonner mold of a big man who is more of a shooter than a post presence or a rebounder.

#59 - Toronto Raptors - Khem Birch - F - 6'9, 220

Developed more of an outside game as his college career wore on.  Solid athlete and a great motor.

#60 - San Antonio Spurs - Markel Brown - SG - Oklahoma St., Sr. - 6'3, 184

Dynamic scorer and athlete, but lacks the size to play SG in the NBA.  6'8 wingspan and 43.5" vertical could pull him off the board before this pick.

Final 2014 Mock Draft: Round 1

*Order is up to date as of the Knicks-Mavs trade that sent picks 34 and 51 to New York.
**No trades are projected, analysis assumes the player will stay with the team that picks him

#1 - Cleveland Cavaliers - Andrew Wiggins - SF - Kansas, Fr. - 6'8, 200

It's hard to argue against picking Wiggins with all of the injury questions surrounding Joel Embiid.  Cleveland has a major need on the wing if and when Luol Deng finds a new home.  Wiggins will likely start from day one, and Cleveland's playoff hopes could hinge on his success as a rookie.  While I'm not going to be projecting trades, there's been plenty of interest in trading for this pick.  There's an okay chance that the Cavs won't be making this pick come Thursday night.

#2 - Milwaukee Bucks - Jabari Parker - SF - Duke, Fr. - 6'8, 240

Milwaukee will gladly go with whomever the Cavs don't take between Wiggins and Parker.  While there's some chatter that the Cavs might go with Parker, I'm guessing he'll be there for Milwaukee.  Much like Wiggins, he should start from day one, as his only roadblock at SF in Milwaukee is Khris Middleton, who can play elsewhere on the floor.  Milwaukee's further away from competing than Cleveland if they can't salvage Sanders and Ilyasova; but Parker should be a good building block and may be able to make more of an instant impact than Wiggins.

#3 - Philadelphia 76ers - Joel Embiid - C - Kansas, Fr. - 7'0, 250

This is where things will get interesting, assuming Cleveland doesn't do something (relatively) stupid and take Embiid first overall.  The 76ers aren't in any hurry to win, as the roster is too barren to make any kind of playoff run this season regardless of the moves they make.  Their decision will come down to whether or not Embiid's talent level is just too good to pass up because of the injuries.  Is Embiid the next Olajuwon or the next Oden?  I think Embiid is so good that the 76ers can't afford not to find out. They could shelve him similar to what they did with Nerlens Noel and be here next year to possibly take Emmanuel Mudiay or one of next year's top three players, in order to form a core with two young stars.  This is another pick with a lot of trade speculation.

Click "Read More" for the rest of the 1st round...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pistons, Kings Discussing Josh Smith

Title pretty much says it all for now, with an informative, opinionated post coming after work at some point tonight.  For now, here's a link to the Hoops Rumors article, which is going off of a report by ESPN's Marc Stein.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Final 2014 NBA Draft Big Board

1 - Andrew Wiggins - SF - Kansas, Fr. - 6'8, 200
Wiggins probably isn't the NBA's next mega-star as he was billed by some entering his freshman season at Kansas.  That being said, he's an elite athlete with a 7'0 wingspan and huge potential at both ends of the floor.  
Strengths: Athleticism, length, defensive upside     Weaknesses: Strength, shooting, ball-handling

2 - Jabari Parker - SF - Duke, Fr. - 6'8, 240
 Parker's game is predicated on scoring, and he really does it well.  He's also a solid rebounder, and his skills should translate well to the NBA.  He'll likely struggle on defense, and some see him as not having a position.  Strengths: Versatility, strength, shooting     Weaknesses: Defense, shot selection, quickness

3 - Dante Exum - PG - Australia, 1995 - 6'6, 185
Exum's skillset should translate nicely to the NBA.  He uses a combination of size, length and court vision to be an exceptional passer.  Scoring game, specifically his outside shooting is still developing.  Should profile as a good defender if he can add the necessary strength.
Strengths: Passing, length, basketball IQ     Weaknesses: Thin, outside shooting

Click "Read More" for the rest of the big board...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting: Nikola Jokic

This scouting report might be a bit selfish on my end, as there's been zero mention of the Pistons contacting Serbian C Nikola Jokic.  However, I would be ecstatic if the Pistons took him with the 38th pick a week from this Thursday.  Jokic, born in 1995, nearly withdrew from the draft earlier this week, but changed his mind a few hours later and decided to keep his name in.  This may not be the best decision for him as he could've certainly become a first round lock and possibly a lottery pick with another year of development.  He's an extremely talented passer on the block, in traffic and from the high post to go with shooting range out to about 18-20 feet.  Any team looking for a big man who can shoot should be in on Jokic; his mechanics are excellent for a young player his size.  He's the definition of a skilled big man.
 
Jokic's raw size is legitimate too, as he measured in at 6'11 (in shoes), and 253 lbs with a 7'3 wingspan at this year's Nike Hoop Summit.  A brief Google skim doesn't return a vertical for Jokic, but he doesn't appear very explosive on tape, which could be what has scouts down on him and the thing that keeps him out of the first round.  He looks to have decent lateral quickness, and there's no arguing with the quality of his footwork on both offense and defense.  Jokic honed his skill in the Adriatic League (it is what it sounds like; a league of teams around the Adriatic Sea region) for KK Mega Vizura in Belgrade, Serbia.  The league provides good competition, and has hosted numerous former and current NBA players including Nikola Pekovic, Aron Baynes, Pero Antic, Gordan Dragic, Beno Udrih, likely 2014 first round pick Dario Saric and the one and only Adam Morrison.  Jokic produced very solid numbers for Mega Vizura last season, averaging 11.4 PPG and 6.4 RPG in 25 minutes per contest.  He shot 52.1% from the field (63.6% on two-point attempts) and blocked a shot per game.  While these numbers don't quite jump off of the page, they're pretty impressive for a 19 year old playing at that level in Europe. 
 
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting: Artem Klimenko

There is a difference in opinion on whether or not the Pistons need to add a backup center this offseason.  One half of the fan-base seems to want Josh Harrellson back for another year (contract becomes guaranteed on 7/20/14) and the other half wants to go in a different direction.  The free agent center market isn't exactly robust this off-season (I see you, Greg Stiemsma) and the majority of the valid options are all veterans who are likely to chase titles.  The other option to fill the potential backup C void would be to utilize the 38th overall pick on one.  I've already covered a few of the options here, namely Johnny O'Bryant and Mitch McGary, who appears to have a promise from a team picking in the 20's.  One of the more unknown quantities at C who may be available when the Pistons pick is Russian big man Artem Klimenko.  The 20 year old Klimenko has spent the last three years playing professionally in Russia, spending last season in the Super League (second tier of Russian pro ball) with professional club Avtodor (Notable alumni include Viktor Khryapa, Cortney Fortson, Yaroslav Korolev and Sergei Monya).  He posted impressive numbers with Avtodor, which can be found here in his Euroleague profile: LINK

Klimenko has a large frame at 7'1, 230 pounds; and according to scouts and those on the European pro circuit, he's still gaining weight at a decent rate.  He boasts a 7'4 wingspan, which, along with his other measurements, was taken at the 2012 Eurocamp, so he very well may be bigger at this point.  Recent articles and video from DraftExpress.com suggest he's up to 240 pounds.  Regardless of the exact numbers, Klimenko's sheer size is very enticing.  Despite his height and length, Klimenko maintains very good mobility both in the open floor and in halfcourt situations.  He's laterally quicker than most young 7-footers and appears to run the floor extremely well.  The downside with Klimenko physically is that he is practically glued to the floor.  His length and height should somewhat help mask his inability to get off the floor, but his leaping ability is a cause for concern with regards to how his game will translate to the NBA.  Nonetheless, Klimenko's size and skill will warrant serious interest from teams picking in the 2nd round.

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

Saturday, June 14, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting: Spencer Dinwiddie

When Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a torn ACL against the University of Washington in January, most expected that the injury would take him out of the running for this year's draft.  Nonetheless, he decided to put his name in this year's pool and the move appears to be a good one.  After successful surgery and an accelerated recovery program, Dinwiddie finds himself on the fringe of the first round, with little doubt that he'll be 100% by the time the NBA opens shop in the fall.  Dinwiddie made an appearance at the draft combine in May, measuring but not participating in any drills.  He showed up in excellent shape, at 6'6 (in shoes), 205 with 5.4% body fat and an adequate if not impressive 6'8.25" wingspan.  Having played two and a half seasons at Colorado, there is plenty of tape for scouts to go off of, which should minimize the damage done by not being able to participate in the combine.

The aforementioned game tape suggests Dinwiddie has plenty of skill to bring with him to the NBA.  He shows an ability to get into the paint off the dribble, find open shooters and that he can create open looks for himself off the bounce.  He impresses with a large amount of versatility to his offensive game; which allowed him to shoot over 50% on two-point field goals and over 40% from three-point range in the 17 games he played in his junior season before getting hurt.  Dinwiddie has first round talent, and I think he would've been a first round lock if he had not gotten hurt.  6'6 point guards that post a 66.7 TS% aren't always easy to find.

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2014 Draft Scouting: DeAndre Daniels

UConn SF DeAndre Daniels never lived up to the star listing next to his name when he got to UConn.  The early entrant into this year's draft, leaving after his junior season, showed up in Storrs as the #10 player in the Class of '11 (per Rivals) and the highest-ranked recruit UConn had hauled in on the perimeter since Rudy Gay in 2004.  Daniels played a meager 12 MPG in his freshman season, amassing 3.0 PPG on 34.1% shooting in whatever time he did get.  His role grew as a sophomore, developing into a supplemental option on a team with a backcourt-dominant offense, ending with averages of 12.1 PPG and 5.5 RPG on 46.8% shooting.  In a similar role as a junior, Daniels finally found his outside shooting stroke, connecting on 41.7% of his three point attempts, a significant increase over his marks of 30.9% as a sophomore and 24.0% as a freshman.

Most impressive was Daniels' play in the NCAA tournament en route to a national title.  His highlight performance came in a 27 point effort against Iowa State in the Sweet Sixteen.  Daniels' 27 points came on 10-15 shooting to go with 10 rebounds.  The statement he made in the tournament wasn't limited to the Sweet Sixteen, as he also showed out against Florida in the Final Four.  Daniels managed 20 points and 10 rebounds on 9-14 shooting against the Gators, cementing his name into this year's draft picture.  While another year of stellar play without Napier around dominating the ball could possibly have boosted Daniels into "first round lock" status in 2015, it's hard to imagine things getting much rosier for his draft status.  His production may have left something to be desired over three years at UConn, however, DeAndre Daniels is a legitimate NBA prospect.

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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2014 Draft Scouting: Cory Jefferson

One of the key elements of Stan Van Gundy's offense in Orlando was having a stretch four to keep the floor spaced off of Dwight Howard.  If Van Gundy plans to replicate that offense in Detroit, he'll have to find his stretch four from outside of the organization, as the Pistons have nothing of the sort currently on the roster.  One option to potentially fill that void through the draft, or undrafted free agency, is Baylor senior PF Cory Jefferson, and it seems like the Pistons have some amount of interest in him:
 Austin is also a stretch big, although he plays a bit of a different style and is more of a project than Jefferson.  Jefferson was a late-bloomer for the Bears, failing to seriously crack the rotation until he broke through as a junior.  Jefferson had his best season in Waco that year, averaging 13.3 PPG, 8.0 RPG and converting 61.8% of his two-point field goal attempts.  He returned for his senior season and played a bigger role, yet managed similar per game numbers when his efficiency slipped.  However, he did add a three point shot to his game, shooting 36.8% from behind the line on over one attempt per game.  Jefferson also got progressively better passing the ball in his time at Baylor, tripling his Assist Rate from his junior season.  At 23 years old, he isn't young, but his game certainly still seems to be developing, and that just might be what the Pistons want.

Click "Read More" to continue reading the scouting report...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

2014 Season Review Wrap-Up

The 2014 Season Review series has finally been wrapped up, after lasting about three weeks longer than I had anticipated.  Each player now has a review linked to his name below, most complete with shot chart and statistical analysis, as well as what to expect their season to look like next year.  There's also a lineup analysis of what it looked like when the Pistons had their most frequently used lineups on the floor, which is an exercise that shows just how poorly coached the team was last season.

Lineup Analysis
Tony Mitchell - Inc.
Charlie Villaneuva - F
Peyton Siva - D+
Luigi Datome - D
Chauncey Billups - Nostalgic A+, contingent upon him retiring
Josh Harrellson - B-
Jonas Jerebko - B-
Will Bynum - C
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - C-
Rodney Stuckey - C+
Kyle Singler - B
Andre Drummond - A-
Greg Monroe - B
Brandon Jennings - C+
Josh Smith - D

As always, thank you for reading, and make sure you follow along on Twitter, @Kevin6CD for new articles and updates to the blog.  Second round draft scouting should pick back up now that the season reviews are finished.  Also, check out the brand new forum, linked at the top of the page.  My goal is to create a community of basketball fans here, so your participation would be wonderful.  Anything goes as long as it's in the right category and not horribly offensive or derogatory!

2014 Season Review: Josh Smith

There's no point in eviscerating Josh Smith beyond what was hashed out all season long for Pistons fans.  Everybody knows his shot chart would look like a bloodbath.  Everybody knows that his shooting percentages and PER would be uglier than can be.  Everybody knows that for what he brought on defense, he canceled it out times two on the other end of the floor.  He was a cancer in the locker room, quick to blame his teammates for the team's struggles.  Josh Smith sucked last season, and it's time to just move on from that.  So as a way of compensating you for any time wasted watching Josh Smith play basketball last season, in lieu of his stats and shot chart, I present:
OUTLOOK FOR NEXT YEAR

2014-15 Status: Under contract for $13,500,000 (via basketball-reference.com)

Josh Smith will not be starting at SF next season, that much can be safely assumed.  Stan Van Gundy's basketball IQ is just too high to do something that stupid.  Smith will either be the starting PF, assuming Monroe lands elsewhere due to his free agency, or Smith will be coming off the bench as the 6th man.  If SVG can convince Smith to swallow his pride and play hard off the bench, it could be greatly beneficial to the Pistons.  For everything he lacks on offense, Smith brings things on defense that both Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond do not.  Smith's energy and shot blocking on defense made him one of the league's best defenders in his time in Atlanta.  In Detroit last year, he looked lost trying to defend SFs and often lost his man for open threes.  Playing PF is every bit as important for him on defense as it is on offense.  I'm assuming that Smith will be in a Pistons uniform next season, because his trade value is about as low as it can get right now.  No complaints if he is moved, however.

2014 SEASON GRADE: D

2014 Season Review: Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings was the less heralded and questioned of Joe Dumars' two major signings last offseason, but his play inspired plenty of discussion of its own in 2013-14.  Acquired in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton and given a 3-year, $24M deal, Jennings shined at times, but ultimately struggled to find the consistency necessary to help the Pistons win games.  Jennings' main area of disappointment was on the defensive end of the floor, as he looked helpless to guard even the league's average starting PGs.  On offense, Jennings displayed quarters of brilliance here and there, but it always seemed like the best moments were followed by his worst.  No better example stands out than when Jennings produced 16 first-half assists on January 11th against Phoenix, then managed to finish the game with 18 total as Detroit nearly squandered a 13-point halftime lead.  Assuming he's back for the second year of his contract, Jennings will need to be more productive at both ends of the floor.

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

Saturday, June 7, 2014

2014 Season Review: Greg Monroe

The signing of Josh Smith not only muddied the Pistons' offense this season, but it also appears to have mucked up the development of Greg Monroe.  The 2013-14 season was Monroe's worst since his rookie year in terms of efficiency and rebounding and as the young big man struggled with a smaller role in the offense.  At times throughout the year Monroe appeared visibly frustrated with the team's play, and possibly with his role.  Monroe often sat in favor of Smith and Drummond down the stretch in the early part of the season during Mo Cheeks' tenure.  Developments such as what happened with Greg Monroe's playing time and role are likely factors in the downturn in his productivity.  However, there are still legitimate concerns over Monroe's lack of development on defense, and how his game, which doesn't stretch far from the basket, fits alongside Drummond's going forward.  For the time being, the '13'-'14 season felt like a bit of a lost year for Greg Monroe.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

2014 Season Review: Andre Drummond

Calling Andre Drummond a breath of fresh air when the Pistons season reached its most suffocating points is a major understatement.  Not many franchises in the lottery this year had the consolation prize of a 20 year old, franchise Center to build on.  After sliding to 9th in the 2012 NBA Draft over hilarious concerns about his work ethic, Drummond made quite a statement in his rookie season, flashing massive potential in somewhat limited playing time.  By the end of his rookie year, Drummond was handed the starting role and found himself an All-Rookie Second team member.  Entering his sophomore season, the question was whether or not he could maintain his absurd rebounding rates and efficient scoring in more minutes.  It didn't take long for Drummond to prove that he wouldn't maintain those rates, but improve upon them.  Drummond led the whole league in Offensive Rebounding Rate, and Total Rebounding Rate, while also finishing 2nd in the league in FG% and eFG%, and finishing in the top-15 in Def. Reb. Rate, BPG, PER, TS% and Offensive Rating.  To make a long story short, Andre Drummond was impressive for any big man last season, let alone one who can't legally drink.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Pistons Hire Jeff Bower as GM

Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier today that the Pistons have reached an agreement with Marist College head coach Jeff Bower to become the team's GM.  Bower has previous NBA front office experience from two stints with the New Orleans Hornets, most recently from 2005 to 2010.  Wojnarowski says he's "well respected among front-office peers and player agents in the NBA", which hopefully will prove useful in luring quality talent to Detroit through all three major avenues.  He will begin work immediately prepping for the draft and free agency. Bower has a wide variety of experience in basketball, reaching back to his first job as an assistant coach at Penn State in the 1980s.  From there Bower spent nine years as an assistant at Marist before moving into and up through the New Orleans franchise.  He spent 15 years with the Hornets from 1995 to 2010 in roles such as scout, GM and even head coach for a brief stint.  If nothing else, Bower brings a world of knowledge and experience with him to Detroit.

Here's a list showing some of (not comprehensive) Bower's more notable moves when he was running the Hornets, via RealGM:
  • 2005: Traded Baron Davis to Golden State for Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis
  • 2005: Drafted Chris Paul (4th), Brandon Bass (33rd)
  • 2006: Drafted Hilton Armstrong (12th), Cedric Simmons (15th), Marcus Vinicius (43rd)
  • 2006: Acquired Peja Stojakovic (5y, $64M) in a sign-and-trade for Andrew Betts
  • 2006: Acquired Tyson Chandler in a three team deal for Kirk Snyder, J.R. Smith and P.J. Brown
  • 2007: Drafted Julian Wright (13th), Adam Haluska (43rd)
  • 2007: Signed Morris Peterson to a 4y, $23M deal
  • 2008: Acquired Mike James and Bonzi Wells in a three team deal for Bobby Jackson, Adam Haluska and Marcus Vinicius
  • 2008: Drafted Darrell Arthur (27th), traded Arthur to Portland for cash
  • 2009: Traded Tyson Chandler to OKC for Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox; trade was then voided by the NBA
  • 2009: Drafted Darren Collison (21st), traded for the rights to Marcus Thornton
  • 2009: Traded Tyson Chandler to Charlotte for Emeka Okafor
There are some good moves on the list, no doubt about that.  He deserves some amount of credit for taking Chris Paul, acquiring Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler and for making some solid picks in landing Darren Collison and Marcus Thornton.  Beyond that, however, are a lot of uninspiring deals.  The 2006 Draft generally stunk, but he didn't do anything of note by taking two players who struggled to stay in the NBA for more than a handful of years.  Same goes for his pick of Julian Wright in 2007.  Along with these mediocre picks are a decent amount of minor trades that didn't pan out.  Bower's transaction history, to me, shows a guy who's merely average at evaluating talent.  Bower's teams, bolstered by the play of Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler still only managed two winning seasons in six attempts, the best of which was the '07-'08 campaign that saw Bower finish 3rd in Executive of the Year voting and the Hornets lose in the second round of the playoffs.  Despite never being able to break through in New Orleans, I think Bower is certainly going to be a step up from Joe Dumars, and working alongside SVG should help to create positive results.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2014 Season Review: Kyle Singler

Five Pistons players attempted more than 85 threes this season, and only one managed to shoot above 34% beyond the arc.  That would be Kyle Singler, connecting on 94 of his 246 looks, good for 38.2%.  Not only was Singler a sight for sore eyes amongst a team of terrible jump shooters, he was the league's best shooter from one of the game's most important spots: the right corner.  Singler hit 53% of his right corner threes (According to Kirk Goldsberry, Grantland), providing the Pistons with the only floor spacing they would enjoy all year long.  For everything that Singler isn't, he managed a top-20 Offensive Rating (117) and the team's second-highest TS% in an extremely low-usage role.  Kyle Singler quietly had one of the best seasons on the team in 2013-14.

PER PPG TS% eFG% 3P% TRB% AST% TOV%
11.8 9.6 57.4% 52.5% 38.2% 7.1% 4.7% 10.4%

Aside from the outstanding TS% and solid eFG%, nothing much jumps out about Singler statistically.  His Player Efficiency Rating (PER) really takes a hit because he doesn't rebound well for his position, and is a low usage player that isn't put in many playmaking situations.  One of those things there would be okay to blame Singler for (rebounding), but it's hard to say that his low usage and assist numbers are his fault.  He's a role player, and he knows that.  If anything he should get credit for not trying to do too much, which is a skill that I wish he could translate to some of his teammates.  One thing that doesn't show in his stat chart is the biggest improvement in his game from his rookie year to his second year; free throw rate.  Singler upped his FTr from .193 as a rookie to .306 as a sophomore.  This was the biggest part of his improvement upon a mediocre 51.7 TS% as a rookie in similar minutes and usage.  He also improved his 2P% nearly a whole three points.  Kyle Singler really upped his physical game as a sophomore.  Your guess is as good as mine as to where this development came from.

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