Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Building Around the Drummond-Jackson Pick-And-Roll

The Pistons have the makings of a nice core, as Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all young and developing into quality starters.  The two most important pieces of that, in my eyes, are the franchise cornerstone center and the point guard who was hand-picked by the head coach/president of the organization.  At only 21 and 25 years old respectively, Drummond and Jackson are the two pieces the Pistons have the majority of their chips on.  Drummond will be receiving a max contract extension from the team as soon as this summer, and Jackson cost two picks and two rotational pieces to get, and will take a fairly sizable contract to keep.  Are the Pistons making a smart move by building around the two?  That will likely come down to how they function together running one of basketball's most simple plays: the pick-and-roll (PnR).

Friday, April 24, 2015

2014-15 Season Review: Centers

The starting Center position has been the only mainstay for the Pistons over the last two seasons.  Andre Drummond has played in, and started, 163 of the last 164 games for Detroit.  The budding superstar took a step back this season offensively, with hopes that he takes more steps forward in the next few years.  In the process, he remained the league's top offensive rebounder, and one of the overall best on the glass, and had a decent shot-blocking season.  When Greg Monroe wasn't claiming the backup C minutes, or whenever the team needed a defensive presence on the block, Joel Anthony provided valuable effort and energy.  Anthony lived up to his reputation as a consummate professional after being acquired in an offseason trade for Will Bynum, and Stan Van Gundy has already stated that he would like to re-sign the veteran big this summer.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

2010 Re-Draft

1 - Washington Wizards - John Wall (Wall)
Wall has been an impact player since his rookie season, and at only 20 years old, he's likely still developing.  His outside shot still needs consistency, but he's a good defensive guard and is one of the better passers in the league.

2 - Philadelphia 76ers - DeMarcus Cousins (Evan Turner)
At the time of the draft, most people recognized that Cousins was the second-best talent in the class.  Supposed "personal issues" caused Boogie to slip; five years into his career, Cousins' only issues have been with the weak coaches the Kings put on the bench.  When they finally found one that worked, they fired him.  The 76ers really could have used the big man, as they didn't have a mainstay at C going into this offseason.  

3 - New Jersey Nets - Paul George (Derrick Favors)
Favors didn't make it through his rookie season with the Nets before being shipped out in the Deron Williams deal.  That hasn't worked out so well.  George only sits behind Wall and Cousins in this draft class because he wasn't an impact player until his third year in the league.

4 - Minnesota Timberwolves - Gordon Hayward (Wesley Johnson)
The best way to characterize the Wes Johnson pick is "Oops".  Hayward is one of the most underrated players in the league.  When his outside shot is falling, he's a tough guard on the perimeter.  His playmaking is an added bonus.

5 - Sacramento Kings - Derrick Favors (DeMarcus Cousins)
The Kings got lucky that Cousins fell to them thanks to the trumped up off-court issues.  Favors isn't a bad consolation prize though.  It's taken him a few years to put it all together, but at only 23 years old, Favors could be a 20-10 guy by the time he reaches his prime.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2014-15 Season Review: Power Forwards

The Pistons gave roughly seven players minutes at the PF position during the 2014-15 season, with varying styles of play.  Greg Monroe was the starter for the majority of the year, with his low-post scoring providing the team with steady offense.  Josh Smith was very much himself until the team waived him in December.  Jonas Jerebko demonstrated continued hustle and versatility in spotty minutes before being traded.  Anthony Tolliver proved to be a valuable role player that the team asked too much of as the season wore on, and several other players saw limited or inconsistent minutes and filled a role at the fringe of the rotation throughout the year.  With Anthony Tolliver, Shawne Williams and Quincy Miller under contract for next season at the position, a changing of the guards for the 4-spot in the Pistons' offense may be taking place.

Monday, April 20, 2015

2014-15 Season Review: Small Forwards

The Pistons gave minutes to a variety of different players at the SF position throughout the 2014-15 season, with Caron Butler as the only player who saw the season through in the rotation.  Kyle Singler, the starter at the beginning of the season, was shipped to OKC at the trade deadline.  Tayshaun Prince begrudgingly made a return to The Palace, but couldn't hold the starting job down through the end of the year.  Caron Butler gave a consistent effort, but simply doesn't have much left in the tank at 34 years old.  Gigi Datome and Cartier Martin also saw minutes at the position, with limited productivity.  Even 6'10 Quincy Miller was given a chance to show what he can do at the position. The lack of a well-rounded, dependable option suggests that the SF position is in for a major overhaul this offseason.

Friday, April 17, 2015

2014-15 Season Review: Shooting Guards

The play from the Pistons' shooting guards this past season can best be described as inconsistent.  Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had nights where he looked like a borderline all-star (usually at home) and nights where he looked like he didn't belong in the league (on the road, mostly).  Jodie Meeks missed the first few weeks of the year with a back injury suffered in the preseason, but came roaring out of the gates once he did get on the floor.  After a hot December, Meeks cooled off considerably, becoming an anchor on offense as he didn't provide the shooting the Pistons so badly needed off the bench.  Although he heated up again towards the end of the season, Meeks' first year in Detroit was a bit of a disappointment.  Cartier Martin will also be discussed here to keep the SF post from being incredibly long.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

2014-15 Season Review: Point Guards

With Brandon Jennings transforming his game following the release of Josh Smith and then tearing his Achilles, DJ Augustin's brief period as the starter, the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie as a viable backup and the acquisitions of Reggie Jackson and John Lucas III, the Pistons' PG rotation saw more changes than any other spot on the roster in the 2014-15 season.  Through all of the uncertainty at the position, the Pistons received solid play all year long, with Reggie Jackson's dynamic play in the final month of the season providing an excellent exclamation point.   With John Lucas III the only point guard on the roster not under contract for next season, the Pistons should see more continuity next year, although the question of where Brandon Jennings is going to find his minutes will be a prevalent one.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2011 Re-Draft

1 - Cleveland Cavaliers (via LAC) - Kawhi Leonard (Kyrie Irving)
Picking between Leonard and Irving is a tough call.  Kawhi probably isn't the Kawhi we all know if he doesn't start his career in San Antonio.  That being said, he's an NBA Finals MVP and a much better defensive player than Kyrie Irving.  That gives him the nod, although Irving's play this season makes the choice much more difficult than it would have been eight months ago.

2 - Minnesota Timberwolves - Kyrie Irving (Derrick Williams)
The Wolves had already drafted Ricky Rubio at this point, but he had yet to come stateside.  With Irving they could have easily moved Rubio, or tried some kind of two PG backcourt.  It's not hard to beat the original pick here; Derrick Williams has been a bust.

3 - Utah Jazz (via NJN) - Klay Thompson (Enes Kanter)
Another tough call in the three spot: Jimmy Butler or Klay Thompson?  While Butler's breakout year is going to get him a max deal in restricted free agency this summer, Thompson has been a valuable contributor since entering the league.  Butler is a better defender, but not by as much as you would think, and Thompson is the more explosive, efficient scorer.  Simply put, you couldn't go wrong with either.

4 - Cleveland Cavaliers - Jimmy Butler (Tristan Thompson)
A Jimmy Butler-Kawhi Leonard wing pairing would be downright unfair.  Instead of getting one star player, like they did in real life, the Cavs get two in this re-draft.  Butler could simply be in the midst of a contract year, but even if he does have an efficiency regression in his next contract, his defense and versatility still has plenty of value.

5 - Toronto Raptors - Chandler Parsons (Jonas Valanciunas)
Small forwards who saw playing time for the Raptors in the season before the 2011 NBA Draft: Sonny Weems, Linas Kleiza, James Johnson, Ronald Dupree and 33-year old Peja Stojakovic.  Even though they miss out on Butler and Leonard, they still get a very good SF to put ahead of that sorry crew.  A Parsons-DeRozan wing pairing would fit nicely.

6 - Washington Wizards - Nikola Vucevic (Jan Vesely)
The Wizards only had one fixture on the roster at the time of this draft, that being John Wall.  Adding Vucevic, the best player left on the board who isn't a PG, seems to make the most sense.

7 - Sacramento Kings - Kenneth Faried (Bismack Biyombo)
The Kings could have done the 2011 first round much better than they did.  Giving up Biyombo and Beno Udrih for Jimmer Fredette and John Salmons turned out to be a horrible mistake.  Biyombo is far from a star, but he's got some value, and he gets regular minutes, which is more than you can say for Fredette.  The Kings have been looking for a PF to pair with DeMarcus Cousins for quite some time.  Faried wouldn't be the perfect pairing, but it would work better than what they've tried.

8 - Detroit Pistons - Isaiah Thomas (Brandon Knight)
Despite the defensive shortcomings caused by his lack of size, Thomas is still a valuable asset.  He's one of the most efficient scoring PGs in the league and that would have fit in nicely with the Pistons.  The fact that he's already played for three different teams is a bit of a cause for concern.

9 - Charlotte Bobcats - Enes Kanter (Kemba Walker)
The Bobcats roster was a mess going into the 2011 draft.  Case in point, Gerald Henderson is the only player who remains from the 2010-11 squad.  That means the Bobcats had flexibility in this draft.  While Walker turned out to be an okay selection, he's not efficient and his defense leaves a lot to be desired at an important position.  Kanter's uptick in OKC shows that he may still have some upside, although his defense is also flawed.

10 - Milwaukee Bucks - Tobias Harris (Jimmer Fredette)
The Bucks used this pick to trade for Tobias Harris, who fit a need at SF at the time.  Looking back, they made a great deal moving this pick for Harris and other pieces.

11 - Golden State Warriors - Jonas Valanciunas (Klay Thompson)
The Warriors had Steph Curry to build around at this point, with David Lee and Monta Ellis also on the roster.  That leaves SF and C with holes that needed to be filled and Valanciunas is head and shoulders above the SFs available.

12 - Utah Jazz - Brandon Knight (Alec Burks)
The Jazz had a solid core entering the 2011 draft.   Gordon Hayward was on the perimeter and the frontcourt of Millsap, Jefferson and Favors had great depth.  With their first pick being spent on the SG position, they go with the best non-frontcourt player available.

13 - Phoenix Suns - Nikola Mirotic (Markieff Morris)
Mirotic would fit perfectly in the Suns' uptempo offense, serving as a floor stretcher in the frontcourt.  In only his first year in the league, Mirotic may be several spots higher if you do a re-draft three years from now.

14 - Houston Rockets - Tristan Thompson (Marcus Morris)
The Rockets were still a year away from truly shaping their roster by trading for James Harden at this point.  The only position where they absolutely didn't need another good player was PG, where Kyle Lowry, Aaron Brooks and Goran Dragic held serve.  Thompson is the best player available on the board.

15 - Indiana Pacers - Kemba Walker (Kawhi Leonard)
Technically, the Pacers did use this pick to get a PG.  They did so by trading Kawhi Leonard to the Spurs for George Hill.  That didn't work out ideally for the Pacers.

16 - Philadelphia 76ers - Alec Burks (Nikola Vucevic)
The 76ers really could have used a C in this draft, which they selected appropriately at the time.  However, in this re-draft, there isn't another C worth taking, as the next best one on the board is Bismack Biyombo.

17 - New York Knicks - Reggie Jackson (Iman Shumpert)
The Knicks had Carmelo Anthony and a whole lot of nothing at this point, after the trade for Anthony depleted the team's assets.  That gives them the flexibility to take the best player available here.  Jackson and Melo playing pick-and-roll/pop would be awfully fun to watch.

18 - Washington Wizards (via ATL) - Markieff Morris (Chris Singleton)
The Wizards fixed their C issue with their lottery pick and use this one to grab their other frontcourt starter.

19 - Charlotte Bobcats (via NOH) - Donatas Motiejunas (Tobias Harris)
The Bobcats got their starting C earlier and add the PF to go along with him here.  Motiejunas would provide space for Kanter to operate, while offering additional low-post scoring.

20 - Minnesota Timberwolves (via MEM) - Marcus Morris (Donatas Motiejunas)
The Wolves get a player who is much closer to what they were hoping Derrick Williams would be.  Morris can play both forward positions and stretch the floor when he is at PF.

21 - Portland TrailBlazers - Cory Joseph (Nolan Smith)
The Blazers were right to take a PG with this pick, they just went with the wrong one.  Reggie Jackson, Norris Cole, Joseph and Shelvin Mack all went after Smith and have had better careers.  Although I think they ended up alright at the position in the long run.

22 - Denver Nuggets -  Derrick Williams (Kenneth Faried)
We would probably all feel a lot different about how Williams turned out if he hadn't been the pick right after Kyrie Irving.  While Williams is definitely a bust, you could argue that he's an okay role player who just had too much hype.

23 - Houston Rockets (via ORL) - Kyle Singler (Nikola Mirotic)
Much like the Tristan Thompson pick earlier, the Rockets get the best player who isn't a PG.

24 - Oklahoma City Thunder - Bismack Biyombo (Reggie Jackson)
The Thunder had their whole starting lineup set entering this draft, although Kendrick Perkins was a major liability at C.  Going with a dynamic combo guard wasn't a bad move, but you can never have too many rim protectors on a contender.

25 - Boston Celtics - Jon Leuer (MarShon Brooks)
The Celtics traded Brooks for JaJuan Johnson and a 2nd rounder, signaling their need for a big man.  Unfortunately, they got the wrong one, as Johnson only appeared in 36 NBA games and is now playing professionally in Turkey.

26 - Dallas Mavericks - Iman Shumpert (Jordan Hamilton)
Although often injured, Shumpert has value as a defender and a guy who can play three positions if need be.

27 - New Jersey Nets (via LAL) - Bojan Bogdanovic (JaJuan Johnson)
Bogdanovic ended up with the Nets in the second round, but has played above that level in his first NBA season.  His scoring efficiency (55.2 TS%) is valuable off the bench, but at 25 years old, he may already be nearing his ceiling.

28 - Chicago Bulls (via MIA) - Shelvin Mack (Norris Cole)
The Bulls needed depth at both guard positions entering this draft.  Mack can play both guard positions, and has provided solid depth for Atlanta the last two seasons.

29 - San Antonio Spurs - Lavoy Allen (Cory Joseph)
The Spurs really could have used a SF in this draft, which they got in real life with the Kawhi Leonard deal.  There's no viable options in this range, so they get the most productive player available.

30 - Chicago Bulls - MarShon Brooks (Jimmy Butler)
Brooks had a solid rookie season and never had a horrible year, but immaturity issues have limited his NBA opportunities.  He's playing in Italy.

31 - Miami Heat - Jan Vesely (Bojan Bogdanovic)

32 - Cleveland Cavaliers - Norris Cole (Justin Harper)

33 - Detroit Pistons (via TOR) - Jordan Hamilton (Kyle Singler)

34 - Washington Wizards - E'Twaun Moore (Shelvin Mack)

35 - Sacramento Kings - Jimmer Fredette (Tyler Honeycutt)

36 - New Jersey Nets - Greg Smith (Jordan Williams)

37 - Los Angeles Clippers (via DET) - Josh Harrellson (Trey Thompkins)

38 - Houston Rockets - (via LAC) - Jeremy Tyler (Chandler Parsons)

39 - Charlotte Bobcats - Justin Holiday (Jeremy Tyler)

40 - Milwaukee Bucks - JaJuan Johnson (Jon Leuer)

41 - Los Angeles Lakers (via GSW) - Davis Bertans (Darius Morris)

42 - Indiana Pacers - Chris Singleton (Davis Bertans)

43 - Chicago Bulls (via UTA) - DeAndre Liggins (Malcolm Lee)

44 - Golden State Warriors (via PHX) - Charles Jenkins (Jenkins)

45 - New Orleans Hornets (via PHI) - Malcolm Lee (Josh Harrellson)

46 - Los Angeles Lakers (via NYK) - Jordan Williams (Andrew Goudelock)

47 - Los Angeles Clippers (via HOU) - Darius Morris (Travis Leslie)

48 - Atlanta Hawks - Nolan Smith (Keith Benson)

49 - Memphis Grizzlies - Chris Wright (Josh Selby)

50 - Philadelphia 76ers (via NOH) - Vernon Macklin (Lavoy Allen)

51 - Portland TrailBlazers - Malcolm Thomas (Jon Diebler)

52 - Detroit Pistons (via DEN) - Tyler Honeycutt (Vernon Macklin)

53 - Orlando Magic - Julyan Stone (DeAndre Liggins)

54 - Cleveland Cavaliers (via OKC) - Andrew Goudelock (Milan Macvan)

55 - Boston Celtics - Diante Garrett (E'Twaun Moore)

56 - Los Angeles Lakers - Josh Selby (Chukwudiebere Maduabum)

57 - Dallas Mavericks - Justin Harper (Tanguy Ngombo)

58 - Los Angeles Lakers (via MIA) - Cory Higgins (Ater Majok)

59 - San Antonio Spurs - Kalin Lucas (Adam Hanga)

60 - Sacramento Kings (via CHI) - Trey Thompkins (Isaiah Thomas)

Friday, April 10, 2015

2012 Re-Draft

1 - New Orleans Hornets - Anthony Davis (Actual pick: Davis)
No need to re-do this pick.  Davis is well on his way to being a future MVP and should make countless All-Star teams.  It won't be long before he's unquestionably the best player in the league.

2 - Charlotte Bobcats - Damian Lillard (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist)
The Bobcats had Kemba Walker already, but knowing what Lillard is, he's too good for Charlotte to pass up.  Kidd-Gilchrist is starting to come around, but this was a deep draft with star players.

3 - Washington Wizards - Andre Drummond (Bradley Beal)
They had JaVale McGee and Nene already on the roster, but a John Wall-Andre Drummond pick-and-roll would be devastating.  Beal wasn't a bad pick, but Drummond is still developing.  If the offensive game he started to find towards the end of the season is for real, there's no way Beal has a better career.

4 - Cleveland Cavaliers - Bradley Beal (Dion Waiters)
The Waiters pick set the Cavaliers back far enough that they could get Andrew Wiggins and deal him for Kevin Love, making a return more enticing for LeBron James.  That's the only way to put a positive spin on Dion Waiters' time in Cleveland.  I'm sure the Cavs would have loved to pair Beal with Kyrie Irving in what would be one of the league's most dynamic scoring backcourts.  Beal hasn't quite reached his potential yet, but he's only 21.

5 - Sacramento Kings - Harrison Barnes (Thomas Robinson)
You can't fault the Kings for taking a PF in the 2012 draft, but they also had a black hole at the SF position.  Getting a player like Harrison Barnes to play alongside of DeMarcus Cousins for a decade would have sent the franchise in a whole different direction.  Barnes gets a leg up on Draymond Green for being two years younger.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (1st Round): Stanley Johnson

Stanley Johnson
6'8, 245
Arizona, Fr.
Big Board Rank: 7

Stanley Johnson is the rare college freshman wing who is already physically prepared for the bigger, stronger, faster NBA.  As a point of reference, at 6'8, 245 pounds, Stanley Johnson is already every bit as big as one of the NBA's stronger wings in Joe Johnson, who stands 6'7, 245.  Johnson is more than just a physical specimen though, as he proved during an impressive freshman season for the Wildcats.  Johnson led Arizona's Elite 8 squad in scoring, and ranked second in rebounds, assists, steals and three point shooting.  Although still developing on both sides of the ball, it's easy to see why Johnson is going to be a high lottery pick this summer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (2nd Round): Aleksandar Vezenkov

Aleksandar Vezenkov
6'9, 210
Aris BC
Nicosia, Cyprus
Big Board Rank: 45

Aleksandar Vezenkov has been one of the most productive players in the Greek Basketball League (GBL) this season.  Vezenkov leads the league in scoring, ranks second in rebounding and is one of the top five outside shooters by percentage.  At only 19 years old, Vezenkov appears ready to test his talent at a higher level of competition.  A gifted lefty with range, the ability to attack off the dribble and enough size to play both forward positions, he could prove to be a steal in the second round if he enhances his physique.  Vezenkov is attempting to become the first NBA player from Cyprus, and one of only three players of Bulgarian nationality to play in the world's highest league.

Monday, April 6, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (1st Round): Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis
7'1, 220
Baloncesto Sevilla
Ventspils, Latvia

Kristaps Porzingis enters the 2015 NBA Draft as an unknown to most casual fans.  An athletic 7-footer with range out to the three point line, he should be an excellent fit in today's NBA as a stretch four.  Porzingis has played the last two seasons at the highest level of Spanish professional basketball, for Sevilla in the ACB.  A role player last year, Porzingis has thrived as a go-to player in 2014-15, putting up impressive numbers in the ACB and Eurocup play.  Despite his production in one of Europe's top leagues, there are still many questions about whether Porzingis can cut it in the NBA due to his thin frame.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (2nd Round): Robert Upshaw

Robert Upshaw
7'0, 260
Washington, So.
Big Board Rank: 38

Robert Upshaw is one of the more talented players who I'd be willing to guarantee won't be drafted in the first round.  With prototype size for the C position and the ability to protect the rim as well as anyone, Upshaw is almost certainly one of the 30 most talented players in the 2015 NBA Draft pool.  However, a long list of off-court problems and dismissals from both Fresno State and Washington appear to have sealed Upshaw's fate.  If he's going to have a long successful career, he's going to have to prove that he wants it and make sure that his past is behind him.  If not, it will be a short run for the talented big man.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (1st Round): Kelly Oubre

Kelly Oubre
6'7, 205
Kansas, Fr.
Big Board Rank: 10

Thanks to Cliff Alexander's strange season, Oubre was only the second-most disappointing freshman at Kansas this year.  Joining the Jayhawks as the #6 high school player in the class (Rivals), Oubre was expected to help Kansas compete for a national title.  Instead, Oubre only garnered 21 minutes per contest and the Jayhawks bowed out in the round of 32 to Wichita State.  Oubre wasn't horrible, but he fell well short of expectations in his lone season in Lawrence.  He'll leave Kansas and those expectations behind and enter the 2015 NBA Draft, where he's a likely lottery pick, thanks to his upside.

Friday, April 3, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (2nd Round): Jordan Mickey

Jordan Mickey
6'8, 235
LSU, So.
Big Board Rank: 44

Jordan Mickey has announced intentions to enter the 2015 NBA Draft after a sophomore season where he was one of the country's top rebounders and shot blockers.  A long, athletic PF with a limited offensive game, Mickey offers greater potential on the defensive end of the floor.  Mickey earned second team All-SEC honors as a freshman, which he followed this year by being named first team All-SEC.  He was also an integral part of LSU's first NCAA tournament team since 2009, grabbing 14 rebounds and blocking six shots in the lone tournament appearance of his career. He was also a big part of the team blowing a lead late against NC State in the Tigers' opening weekend loss.  Mickey missed his final six field goals, to go with missing his last four free throws.  Though his defensive potential and athleticism are intriguing, Mickey's lack of offense is discouraging.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (1st Round): Kevon Looney

Kevon Looney
6'10, 220
Big Board Rank: 17

After a season of up-and-down play for the Bruins, UCLA F Kevon Looney has decided to enter the 2015 NBA Draft.  A rail-thin forward with a high skill level and the ability to stretch the floor, Looney has an intriguing upside.  Most young players at Looney's size struggle with the things he does well, such as attacking off the dribble and shooting the ball.  Looney's skill level makes up for an underwhelming physical frame.  Listed at only 220 pounds on the UCLA roster, Looney will need to bulk up to play his natural PF position as a pro.  While he may be a bit of a project due to the needed extra weight, Looney looks to be a good fit for any team in need of a skilled forward at the 4.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (2nd Round): Cliff Alexander

Cliff Alexander
6'9, 255
Kansas, Fr.
Big Board Rank: 26

Seen as a top freshman and likely lottery pick entering the 2014-15 season, Cliff Alexander's stock has taken arguably the biggest tumble of any prospect in the 2015 draft class.  His difficulties began when he struggled to earn minutes and respect from Kansas head coach Bill Self, and reached an apex when Alexander was suspended by the team due to an NCAA investigation into his eligibility.  Despite Alexander's tough year, there's still reason to believe he can be a high-level contributor in the NBA.