Saturday, May 30, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris - F - 6'8, 230
FA Ranking: 12

Set to turn 23 years old in the weeks following the start of the free agency period, Tobias Harris may be celebrating that he cashed in during restricted free agency.  Harris hits the market after a career year for a floundering young Magic team.  He played the majority of his minutes at SF for Orlando, and recorded a career-high 3P% en route to another career-high, 17.1 points per game.  With enough size and athleticism to play both forward spots, Harris is a logical fit at either of the Pistons' biggest needs.  He's the right age to grow with Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and he's coming off of a year that makes it look like he's going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.  While everything looks good on the surface, I think that Harris is one of the biggest risks on this year's market.  He may very well pay off for whoever signs him, but the Pistons should proceed with caution if they're interested in the versatile, young forward.

Free Agent Profile: Wesley Matthews

Wes Matthews - G/F - 6'6, 220
FA Ranking: 7

Prior to tearing his left Achilles tendon near the end of the regular season, Wes Matthews was set for a big payday in free agency.  After the injury, Matthews may see a bit of a reduced market and a smaller overall contract.  Although the history of NBA players suffering Achilles injuries suggests that Matthews faces an uphill climb, I haven't lost any interest in the dynamic wing role player.  Matthews  went undrafted in 2009, latched on with the Jazz during the Orlando Summer League and was the team's starting SG by February.  A restricted free agent after just one season in the league, Matthews signed a large offer sheet with Portland in the summer of 2010.  The deal worked out for both sides, as Matthews was a catalyst for the team's growth, and he put himself in position to be a hot name in free agency, torn Achilles or not.  Assuming Matthews has made as much positive progress as possible by the July free agency period, expect him to still be able to sign a big contract with the team of his choosing.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Free Agent Profile: DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre Carroll - SF - 6'8, 215
FA Ranking: 16

After surviving an injury scare during the Hawks' sweep at the hands of the Cavs, DeMarre Carroll figures to hit free agency as a very hot name this summer.  He provided the Hawks with excellent value on a 2-year, $5M deal agreed to in the summer of 2013, going from unheralded role player for the Jazz to pivotal starter for the Eastern Conference's best regular season squad.  Carroll's ability to put his stamp on a game at both ends of the floor and in all areas of the box score is going to get him a significant raise this summer.  No player has done more over the last two seasons to improve the quality of their overall game than DeMarre Carroll.  Now the true question is, how much should that be worth to the dozen-or-so teams who are going to pursue him in free agency?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Amir Johnson

Amir Johnson - PF - 6'9, 240
FA Ranking: 20

Much like Khris Middleton, who I profiled earlier this week, Amir Johnson is another case of the Dumars regime giving up on young talent before it truly had time to blossom.  The Pistons drafted Johnson with the 56th pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, fresh out of Westchester High School in Los Angeles.  Johnson only played 163 NBA minutes in his first two seasons with the organization, while he spent more of his time developing his body and his offensive game in the D-League.  Johnson earned more respect in his third and fourth seasons in Detroit, totaling 1,600+ minutes in those two years, and even starting 24 games in the 2008-09 season.  Despite showing that he could be a useful role player, with flashes of potential that he could even turn into a starter, Dumars traded Johnson to Milwaukee in the summer of 2009 for Fabricio Oberto, in what is arguably the worst trade of Joe Dumars' front office career.  Oberto was waived to create cap space, which was utilized to pursue Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, and Johnson went on to turn into a quality starter for the Raptors over the next six years after being dealt to Toronto that same summer.  Now entering free agency in the middle of his prime, Johnson should be a Plan-B target for the new front office, as Detroit looks to rebuild from mistakes like they made during Johnson's time with the organization.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Khris Middleton

Khris Middleton - SF - 6'7, 215
FA Ranking: 5

This one hurts, because Middleton would be the Pistons' high-valued restricted free agent if it weren't for one of the more questionable moves of Joe Dumars' last few years in Detroit.  After playing a mere 475 minutes as a rookie with the Pistons in 2012-13, Middleton was shipped to Milwaukee in a sign-and-trade for Brandon Jennings.  Middleton and the other piece that went to Milwaukee, Brandon Knight, both flourished, while Jennings provided mixed results in Detroit.  Now 23 years old, Middleton is one of the top restricted free agents on the market this summer thanks to a breakout year with the resurgent Bucks.  His value at both ends of the floor makes him an intriguing prospect across the league, and a great fit for the Pistons' needs at the SF spot.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

2015 Mock Draft 2.0 (Post-Lottery)

1 - Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Towns - F/C - Kentucky, Fr.
The Wolves won the top pick after finishing with the league's worst record, something that hasn't happened since the Magic did it in 2004.  Orlando celebrated by grabbing Dwight Howard; what will the Wolves do to mark their top selection?  The talk is that Flip Saunders is a big fan of Jahlil Okafor, but I don't buy that.  The Wolves can't pass up the upside of Karl Towns and Andrew Wiggins terrorizing teams at both ends of the floor.  With Kevin Garnett willing to stick around and usher in the new era, Minnesota should capitalize on the opportunity to make his new disciple a player with a similar frame and skill-set.

2 - Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor - C - Duke, Fr.
The Lakers should be glad to just take whichever of the two big men is left on the board.  In this case, it's Okafor, who is a more natural fit for LA's void at the C position.  Julius Randle could very well develop a mid-range game, which would allow the block-oriented Okafor to thrive in the paint.  If the Lakers do go a different direction, D'Angelo Russell would be a good long-term fit at either guard spot.

3 - Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell - G - Ohio State, Fr.
The Sixers shipped out Michael Carter-Williams at the trade deadline because his inability to develop an outside shot made him a poor fit in a modern backcourt.  Russell's biggest strength is his outside shot, but he's not far behind at all as a playmaker.  Philadelphia doesn't have a long-term answer at either guard spot, and Russell would give them flexibility going forward that Emmanuel Mudiay wouldn't.

4 - New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay - PG - D.R. Congo, 1996
The Knicks should be fine taking whichever of the top four prospects falls into their lap at #4, because their roster is just Carmelo Anthony surrounded by nothingness.  Mudiay is a game-changer due to his size for the PG spot and great athleticism.  If things go as projected in the top three, this should be a simple choice.  It's the Knicks we're talking about though, so all bets are off.  If a pick in the top five is going to be traded, this is the safe bet.

5 - Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow - SF - Duke, Fr.
The Magic are set in the backcourt for the future, with Victor Oladipo and Elfrid Payton.  They're good to go at C with Nik Vucevic, and Aaron Gordon and/or Tobias Harris should be the plan at PF.  There isn't such an answer at SF, where Moe Harkless appears to have fallen out of favor and Tobias Harris isn't the ideal fit.  Winslow would give Orlando yet another destructive wing defender to pair with Oladipo and Payton, setting the building blocks for a tough defense for years to come.

6 - Sacramento Kings: Willie Cauley-Stein - C - Kentucky, Jr.
The Kings could really use a PF who can slot in alongside Demarcus Cousins for the long run.  In this case, I don't know if I see Porzingis being their guy, so they go with WCS, who would move Boogie to PF and give Sacramento a legitimate defensive presence at C.

7 - Denver Nuggets: Kristaps Porzingis - PF - Latvia, 1995
The Nuggets are sure to embark on a full-fledged rebuild sometime in the next year, with Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari likely to be duilt and Kenneth Faried certainly on the table.  That could leave an opening at PF; if that opening isn't going to be there right away, why not take the player on the board with the highest upside?

8 - Detroit Pistons: Mario Hezonja - G/F - Croatia, 1995
The Pistons are another team rumored to be willing to move their pick.  If they do stay at 8, there is going to be a wide variety of options.  The logical choices are wings like Stanley Johnson and Mario Hezonja, or a stretch four like Kristaps Porzingis.  There's even been some talk that Stan Van Gundy is intrigued by C Willie Cauley-Stein.  The Pistons need depth throughout the roster, but I don't think they can afford to pass up filling a major need at SF.  Here, they go with Hezonja instead of Johnson, because he has the higher upside and his outside shot would fit nicely in the Pistons' offense.

9 - Charlotte Hornets: Devin Booker - SG - Kentucky, Fr.
The Lance Stephenson experiment went about as poorly as possible for the Hornets, so don't be shocked if they look for a new answer at SG.  Charlotte can struggle with spacing when Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is on the floor, so drafting the best shooter in the draft would make some sense.  Booker's upside may not be through the roof, but there's little chance he turns into a bad shooter overnight.  He could start from day one if he can defend on the wings.

10 - Miami Heat: Stanley Johnson - SF - Arizona, Fr.
The biggest need for the Heat this summer is to get younger.  They can do that with any position, so they take the bets player on the board.  Miami desperately needs depth too, so whether or not Luol Deng is back in 2015, there's a need for Johnson and his defensive abilities on the wing.

11 - Indiana Pacers: Myles Turner - F/C - Texas, Fr.
The Pacers are in the process of shoving Roy Hibbert out the door, one way or another.  They'll be looking for a replacement who allows the team to play at a faster pace, something that they could do with Turner.  Turner is one of the better shot blockers in the draft, and also offers the potential to stretch the floor from both the PF and C spot.  There are some warning signs in his game (unconventional running style being the top one), but if he pays off, he could be one of the better players in the class.

12 - Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky - C - Wisconsin, Sr.
The Jazz moved on from Enes Kanter because he didn't offer the defensive upside of Rudy Gobert, the all-around game of Derrick Favors and couldn't shoot like Quin Snyder likes his big men to do.  Kaminsky could fit the role that Utah asked Kanter to play perfectly, assuming his skill-set translates to the next level.  Kaminsky may not pay off big like some of the other prospects in the lottery, but he should, if nothing else, shoot the ball well.

13 - Phoenix Suns: Kelly Oubre - G/F - Kansas, Fr.
The Suns could go in multiple directions this year, with no major holes, but also no definite answers on the roster outside of Eric Bledsoe.  Brandon Knight should be back too, but that's no certainty.  They should have the flexibility to draft the best player available, which is Oubre in this case.  If they're truly worried about the Morris' twins legal troubles, Trey Lyles could be in play here.

14 - Oklahoma City Thunder: Sam Dekker - SF - Wisconsin, Jr.
Unless you really like Josh Huestis, the Thunder should be looking for a long-term backup to Kevin Durant.  They could also use his replacement should Durant leave in free agency in the summer of 2016.  Dekker is far, far away from being on Durant's level, but OKC could do worse.  Dekker's size could also see him play alongside Durant in small-ball lineups, assuming Dekker puts on some weight.

15 - Atlanta Hawks (via BKN): Bobby Portis - PF - Arkansas, So.
Whether or not the Hawks lose Paul Millsap in free agency, they could use some youth in their frontcourt after dealing away Adreian Payne mid-season.  Portis' ability to guard all the way out to the perimeter and score in a variety of ways should make him attractive.  If he had better measurable athleticism, Portis would almost certainly be a top-10 pick.

16 - Boston Celtics: Trey Lyles - PF - Kentucky, Fr.
I'm having a hard time putting my finger on just where Lyles will get drafted.  You could make a case for him going as high as 8 to Detroit, or for him falling all the way to here or further.  He would be a decent fit in Boston's frontcourt thanks to his versatile offensive game.  Boston just has too many guys who are good pieces but can't be "the guy"; this pick is another candidate to be packaged for a bigger piece.

17 - Milwaukee Bucks: Jerian Grant - PG - Notre Dame, Sr.
The Bucks may have Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams already as young options at PG, but Grant is big enough to play off the ball as well, where there are fewer solutions.  The Bucks would probably much rather have a C with this pick, but there's no value to take one here.  If Kaminsky falls, he probably won't make it past Milwaukee.

18 - Houston Rockets (via NOP): Cameron Payne - PG - Murray State, So.
Even if Patrick Beverley returns to Houston in free agency, the Rockets need to add to the quality of their point guard rotation.  Steph Curry is in the process of roasting Pablo Prigioni and Jason Terry in the Western Conference Finals as I write this.  Payne and Beverley would make for a dynamic duo, with Payne providing the offensive punch to Beverley's toughness on defense.

19 - Washington Wizards: Kevon Looney - F - UCLA, Fr.
I'll admit I don't care for Looney's game; my opinion of him may very well affect where I place him in these mocks.  If he is still on the board here, Washington should have serious interest.  Marcin Gortat and Nene aren't getting any younger up front, and Kevin Seraphin and Kris Humphries can only give you so much.

20 - Toronto Raptors: Christian Wood - PF - UNLV, So.
Wood has a very high skill level and the Raptors don't really have a dynamic option at PF going forward.  If they do bring back Amir Johnson to hold down the rotation with Patrick Patterson, it would afford Wood the necessary time to polish his game and put on the requisite weight.

21 - Dallas Mavericks: RJ Hunter - SG - Georgia State, Jr.
Hunter shouldered a huge load for Georgia State this year and his efficiency took a hit because of it.  He should fit nicely in the NBA as a role player and would offer the Mavs some additional scoring punch off the bench.  If things really work out right, he could be the long-term replacement for Monta Ellis, but Dallas would be fine just finding a contributor here.

22 - Chicago Bulls: Justin Anderson - SF - Virginia, Jr.
Even if Tom Thibodeau is on his way out of town, Anderson seems like the Bulls' kind of player.  With questionable depth behind Jimmy Butler at the SF spot after a shaky rookie year from Doug McDermott, there's room for Anderson on the roster.  Other options here include Tyus Jones and Montrezl Harrell.

23 - Portland TrailBlazers: Jarell Martin - PF - LSU, So.
I like Martin's upside thanks to a versatile offensive game that should make him a good fit on any team's bench.  The Blazers grab him here as insurance against LaMarcus Aldridge leaving town (not that Martin would instantly be the new starter) and depth if he returns.

24 - Cleveland Cavaliers: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - SF - Arizona, So.
Hollis-Jefferson may not seem like the ideal fit to play around LeBron James because he can't shoot, but he could help lighten LeBron's defensive burdens as he ages.  RHJ might be the top perimeter defender in this draft class.

25 - Memphis Grizzlies: Montrezl Harrell - PF - Louisville, Jr.
Harrell's toughness, tenacity and energy would fit excellently in the Grizzlies' frontcourt.  With Jarnell Stokes already in tow, Memphis could start to add some youth to a post rotation that features Marc Gasol and the aging Zach Randolph.

26 - San Antonio Spurs: Cliff Alexander - PF - Kansas, Fr.
Alexander's disappointing freshman season at Kansas ended with him being suspended due to an eligibility investigation.  He's not the elite prospect that the recruiting sites billed him as, but he has the physical tools to be a contributor as a pro.  Who would be better to help him get there than Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich?

27 - Los Angeles Lakers (via HOU): Rashad Vaughn - SG - UNLV, Fr.
The Lakers have a good young PG in Jeremy Clarkson, a good prospect at PF in Julius Randle, and nabbed Jahlil Okafor earlier in this mock.  That leaves a need for young talent at SG and SF.  There aren't really any value options at SF, so they grab the top SG left on the board.

28 - Boston Celtics (via LAC): Robert Upshaw - C - Washington, So.
While the Celtics currently have depth up front, they don't have a single guy who's a constant threat to challenge/block shots.  Their leading shot blocker this past season was Jared Sullinger at 0.7 per game.  Upshaw's specialty is protecting the rim, so if he can keep his nose clean, he can bring a lot to the table for Boston.

29 - Brooklyn Nets (via ATL): Tyus Jones - PG - Duke, Fr.
I like Jones a lot more than this, but it's hard to find a fit for him if Cameron Payne doesn't go in the lottery.  Chicago could grab him as an insurance policy on Derrick Rose's faulty legs or maybe the Mavericks take a chance on him.  No chance he makes it out of the first round though.

30 - Golden State Warriors: Delon Wright - PG - Utah, Sr.
The Warriors are already two-deep with quality NBA talent at every position.  They grab the best prospect available here.

31 - Minnesota Timberwolves: Norman Powell - SG - UCLA, Sr.

32 - Houston Rockets (via NYK): Chris McCullough - F - Syracuse, Fr.

33 - Boston Celtics (via PHI): Timothe Luwawu - G/F - France, 1995

34 - Los Angeles Lakers: Dakari Johnson - C - Kentucky, So.

35 - Philadelphia 76ers (via ORL): Rakeem Christmas - F/C - Syracuse, Sr.

36 - Minnesota Timberwolves (via SAC): George Lucas - PG - Brazil, 1996

37 - Philadelphia 76ers (via DEN): Jordan Mickey - PF - LSU, So.

38 - Detroit Pistons: Aleksandar Vezenkov - F - Ukraine, 1995
The Pistons have been out to scout Vezenkov, sending a scout to watch him play in the Greek League.  Vezenkov is one of the better outside shooters in this draft and has a versatile offensive game that should play at either forward spot.  His body needs some work, but he's not even 20 years old yet; he has some time to work on the physical part of his game.

39 - Charlotte Hornets: Mam Jaiteh - C - France, 1994

40 - Miami Heat: Michael Frazier - SG - Florida, Jr.

41 - Brooklyn Nets: Tyler Harvey - SG - Eastern Washington, Jr.

42 - Utah Jazz: Michael Qualls - SG - Arkansas, Jr.

43 - Indiana Pacers: Marc Garcia - SG - Spain, 1995

44 - Phoenix Suns: Richaun Holmes - PF - Bowling Green, Sr.

45 - Boston Celtics: Terry Rozier - G - Louisville, So.

46 - Milwaukee Bucks: Anthony Brown - SF - Stanford, Sr.

47 - Philadelphia 76ers (via NOP): Cedi Osman - SF - Turkey, 1994

48 - Oklahoma City Thunder: Alpha Kaba - PF - France, 1995

49 - Washington Wizards: Olivier Hanlan - PG - Boston College, Jr.

50 - Atlanta Hawks (via TOR): JP Tokoto - G/F - North Carolina, Jr.

51 - Orlando Magic (via CHI): Aaron White - F - Iowa, Sr.

52 - Dallas Mavericks: Chris Walker - PF - Florida, So.

53 - Cleveland Cavaliers (via POR): Brandon Ashley - PF - Arizona, Jr.

54 - Utah Jazz (via CLE): Nedim Buza - SF - Bosnia & Herzegovina, 1995

55 - San Antonio Spurs: Guillermo Hernangomez - C - Spain, 1994

56 - New Orleans Pelicans (via MEM): Vince Hunter - PF - UTEP, So.

57 - Denver Nuggets (via LAC): Darrun Hilliard - SF - Villanova, Sr.

58 - Philadelphia 76ers (via HOU): Satnam Singh - C - India, 1995

59 - Atlanta Hawks: Moussa Diagne - C - Senegal, 1994

60 - Philadelphia 76ers (via GSW): Mateusz Ponitka - SG - Finland, 1994

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Al-Farouq Aminu

Al-Farouq Aminu - SF - 6'9, 220
FA Ranking: 10

Free agency doesn't always have to be about locking down the biggest name.  Hawks fans can tell you better than anybody how well it can work when you make moves that go completely under the radar.  In my opinion, Al-Farouq Aminu is one guy who is going to go under the radar this summer and make some front office look very, very smart.  While Aminu hasn't lived up to his billing as one of the top high school recruits in the class of 2008, or as the 8th pick in the 2010 draft, he's slowly developed his game in stints with the LA Clippers, New Orleans and Dallas.  He enters unrestricted free agency this year for the second straight summer, assuming he turns down a $1.1M player option.  That's a safe assumption after Aminu proved himself to be one of the few reliable players on one of the league's worst defenses.  The Pistons would do themselves well to line up for Aminu's services, as his ability to defend both forward positions would fit wonderfully within the Pistons' long-term plans.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What the 8th Pick Really Means

Past returns can never guarantee future performance, but they can always provide an idea of what to expect.  With the Pistons slotted to pick 8th in the 2015 draft, barring any trades, what kind of player will the team be adding to its core this year?  Below is a list of the 8th picks in the last 20 drafts, sorted by year:

Year
Pick
Team

Best Player taken after
2014
Nik Stauskas
SAC

Too early to tell (E. Payton?)
2013
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
DET

Giannis Antetokounmpo (15)
2012
Terrence Ross
TOR

Andre Drummond (9)
2011
Brandon Knight
DET

Kawhi Leonard (15)
2010
Al-Farouq Aminu
LAC

Paul George (10)
2009
Jordan Hill
LAL

Ty Lawson (18)
2008
Joe Alexander
MIL

DeAndre Jordan (35)
2007
Brandan Wright
GSW

Marc Gasol (48)
2006
Rudy Gay
MEM

Rondo (21)/Millsap (47)/Lowry (24)
2005
Channing Frye
NYK

David Lee (30)
2004
Rafael Araujo
TOR

Andre Iguodala (9)
2003
T.J. Ford
MIL

David West (18)
2002
Chris Wilcox
LAC

Amar’e Stoudemire (9)
2001
DeSagana Diop
CLE

Tony Parker (28)
2000
Jamal Crawford
CHI

Michael Redd (43)
1999
Andre Miller
CLE

S. Marion (9)/Ginobili (57)
1998
Larry Hughes
PHI

Nowitzki (9)/Pierce (10)
1997
Adonal Foyle
GSW

Tracy McGrady (9)
1996
Kerry Kittles
NJN

Kobe Bryant (13)
1995
Shawn Respert
MIL

Michael Finley (21)

There's a pretty wide variety of returns there, ranging from major flops like Rafael Araujo and Joe Alexander to guys like Andre Miller and Channing Frye who had solid careers, and even a couple borderline All-Stars, such as Rudy Gay, Jamal Crawford and...Brandon Knight.  Obviously drafting has more to do with how you scout and prepare and isn't just a matter of raw luck, but by my count, based on the guys above, the Pistons have about a 13/20 (65%) chance of getting a guy who can definitely contribute in the rotation during their career.  The guys I didn't include in that count (Nik Stauskas, Joe Alexander, Rafael Araujo, Chris Wilcox, DeSagana Diop, Adonal Foyle, Shawn Respert) you can mostly attribute to poor scouting.  If you look at the best players who went after those guys in their respective drafts, there was just an issue of taking the wrong guy, with the exception of Stauskas who can't be judged yet.  Think the Warriors regret taking Adonal Foyle over Tracy McGrady?  My point is, that there are going to be opportunities to get a good/great player at #8 or later and that not moving up in the lottery isn't a deal breaker for this off-season.  This isn't the 2013 draft; the Pistons are going to have a great shot at getting a difference-maker.

If you remove the second round picks in the far right column, and average out the draft position of the best player taken after the 8th slot, you get 15.4.  Since it's impossible to pick 15.4th, we'll just round up and say that on average, the best player after the 8th pick went 16th.  You could argue that the Pistons wouldn't be doing themselves a huge disservice by trading down in this year's draft, and the table above and the average slot of the next-best pick support that.  The draft isn't always about having the best pick; it's about having the best scouting and knowing how to recognize value.  It can also be about having more chances to guess right on a guy you think has a high ceiling.  That's the reasoning behind trading down when you don't think you're going to be getting an impact player in the middle of the lottery.

Only one team has two first round picks that slot in behind the 8th pick this year, and that's the Boston Celtics, who own the 16th and 28th picks.  Using my pre-lottery mock draft as a reference, the 16th and 28th picks might yield Bobby Portis and Dakari Johnson, with Stanley Johnson going to the Pistons at 8th.  While Stanley Johnson is a lottery pick for a reason, would you feel that much worse about the Pistons' chances at getting a starter if they traded down and grabbed two solid prospects instead of the one with the higher ceiling?  I'm not sure if I would make that deal straight up, but it's certainly something to think about.

The good news is, the Pistons actually have their pick this year, which gives them plenty of options.  There's a full month between now and the draft for Stan Van Gundy and his front office crew to decide the best course of action.  Unlike past years, I feel confident that the organization will make the best choice going forward as far as how to utilize one of their best assets.  

Free Agent Profile: Draymond Green

Draymond Green - F - 6'7, 230
FA Ranking: 4

Restricted free agency might be the only thing keeping hometown (Saginaw is close enough) sensation Draymond Green from playing for his favorite childhood team.  The unofficial dance between Green and the Pistons' front office has been happening all year, with each side stating anonymously that they would be open to an agreement with the other side.  The Golden State Warriors stand in the middle of the two, as they have the right to match any offer sheet Green signs this summer.  They've gone so far as to say that they'll match any offer Green receives, making it unlikely that we see Draymond Green in red, white and blue.  That being said, front offices aren't always true to their word, so what would it really look like if Stan Van Gundy went out and brought the Saginaw native "home" to Detroit Auburn Hills?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lottery Results: Pistons to Pick 8th

The balls have all fallen into place tonight and it looks like the Pistons will be picking 8th in the 2015 NBA Draft.  While it's disappointing that the Pistons weren't able to move into the top three for the sixth straight draft, there's no shortage of options available at the 8th pick, many of which fit the Pistons' needs at SF and PF.  My top choices for the pick, assuming one or both players are available, are Stanley Johnson and Mario Hezonja.  Johnson would bring the Pistons a sense of toughness on the wing, with the upside of also being a decent secondary offensive option.  Hezonja would provide the Pistons with an upside they haven't had at the position in years, as his elite athleticism and skill could translate well to the NBA if he also brings his work ethic.  Trading down is also an option that could be looked into, although those types of deals can be hard to predict, and generally don't happen until draft night.  Stay tuned for more information as the offseason progresses, and look below for more helpful information about what's going on this summer, as well as the official draft order, as of tonight:

2015 Off-season Primer: LINK
2015 Draft Scouting: LINK
2015 Mock Draft (will be updated soon to reflect new order): LINK

DRAFT ORDER

1. MIN 2. LAL 3. PHI 4. NYK 5. ORL 6. SAC 7. DEN 8. DET 9. CHA 10. MIA 11. IND 12. UTA 13. PHX 14. OKC 15. ATL 16. BOS 17. MIL 18. HOU 19. WAS 20. TOR 21. DAL 22. CHI 23. POR 24. CLE 25. MEM 26. SAS 27. LAL 28. BOS 29. BKN 30. GS 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
31. MIN 32. HOU 33. BOS 34. LAL 35. PHI 36. MIN 37. PHI 38. DET 39. CHA 40. MIA 41.BKN 42. UTA 43. IND 44. PHX 45. BOS 46. MIL 47. PHI 48. OKC 49. WAS 50. ATL 51. ORL 52. DAL 53. CLE 54. UTA 55. SAS 56. NOP 57. DEN 58. PHI 59. ATL 60. PHI 

Free Agent Profile: Bismack Biyombo

Bismack Biyombo - C - 6'9, 235
FA Ranking: 11

There are bigger needs for the Pistons this summer than finding a reliable backup C, but the amount of minutes that Detroit was forced to play Joel Anthony last season suggests that the position may be more important than most fans think.  While Anthony, who could very well be brought back, performed admirably in his 406 minutes, the role figures to be too much for him to handle this upcoming season.  With Greg Monroe's departure imminent, the Pistons will need a guy who can log well over 1,000 minutes, which is something Anthony hasn't done since the 2011-12 season.  Enter Bismack Biyombo, a possible restricted free agent coming off of somewhat of a breakout season for the Charlotte Hornets.  Biyombo posted excellent numbers in every relevant category on his way to a career-high in PER and Free Throw Rate.  There isn't a better defensive-minded C option than Biyombo, who also fits the age group that the Pistons would like to operate within.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Trade Suggestions, Featuring the (Mostly) Strange Ideas of the RealGM Forums

If you're not familiar with RealGM, you're not following basketball properly on the internet.  The website provides excellent access to news, stats and other neat little features that make being a well-read basketball fan easy.  There's also the RealGM Forum section, which gives the users a well-moderated outlet to discuss the game and their ideas with multiple sections that pertain to specific topics.  There's a general board, a player comparison forum and a draft board.  While certain ideas get a bit out of hand, no section of the forum gets more ridiculous than the "Trades and Transactions" board.  You get the occasional reasonable idea that makes sense for both sides, but more often than not, it's someone who is either way too into making a smart deal for their favorite team or possibly someone suggesting a trade more outrageous than DirecTV putting out commercials based on a donkey show joke and a hot girl in a bikini.  Every team has suggestions from its fans on the board, so let's take a look at the brilliant or brilliantly hilarious ideas people have suggested for the Pistons...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Danny Green

Danny Green - SF - 6'6, 215
FA Ranking: 3


Although he isn't the sexiest name on the market, Danny Green has just about everything the Pistons are looking for in a wing player.  He's a quality defender at both wing positions, a dead-eye three point shooter and he doesn't need the ball in his hands for a whole possession to score.  Green is definitely more of a SG, but there's no reason to believe he couldn't start at SF for the Pistons.  He has enough size and height to defend even the biggest wings and is one of the few players in the league who you can truly describe as a "3-and-D" guy.  He doesn't do enough off the dribble to be the perfect fit for Detroit's needs, but he's also going to come much cheaper than, say, Jimmy Butler.  As far as realistic (guys who will actually hit the market, and may be interested in Detroit) free agent options go, Green should be option number one.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

2015 Draft Scouting (2nd Round): Richaun Holmes

Richaun Holmes
PF
6'10, 235
Bowling Green, Sr.
10/15/1993
Big Board Rank: 38







Richaun Holmes isn't a household name for even the casual college hoops fan.  He's spent the last three years trying to end the Falcons' five year winning season drought.  Holmes' stellar play as a senior turned BGSU into a MAC contender in his final season, which saw the Falcons go 21-12, earning a bid in the CIT.  He was one of two Falcons to average double digits in scoring for the season, finishing the year with 14.7 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 2.7 BPG on .563/.419/.712 shooting.  Even after his excellent senior year, Holmes was looked at as a late 2nd-rounder to undrafted prospect.  Then he went to the seniors-only Portsmouth Invitational (PIT) and was one of the top performers during the event.  Holmes put up 14.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 3.7 BPG in three games played, and was widely regarded as the best prospect on the floor during the week.  Holmes has turned himself into a legitimate candidate to be drafted in the 2nd round, and could play himself into the early or middle part of the 2nd with a good showing at the NBA Combine.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

2015 Free Agent Rankings

With the off-season underway for the Pistons after missing the playoffs, it's time to focus on what the front office can do to improve the roster.  With starters needed for at least two positions this summer (SF & PF), and with hopes of improving the depth throughout the roster, free agency will be as big of a key to the offseason as ever.  Throughout the last decade since the Pistons won a title, we've learned about the importance of fit when signing free agents.  Stan Van Gundy's front office seems to understand this much better than the previous regime, so let's take a look at what else is important, and how this year's crop may meet the Pistons' needs.

2015 Mock Draft 1.0

* Lottery was simulated using Tankathon.com's lottery simulator tool.

1 - New York Knicks: Jahlil Okafor - Duke, Fr. - C
The Knicks have so many holes on the roster, it doesn't really matter where they land among the top four; they're going to get a good prospect at a position of need.  Carmelo Anthony is the only player on the roster who is a lock to be a starter next year.  That allows New York to go with the best player available.  For me, it's too close to call between Okafor and Towns, but I think Phil Jackson would go with Okafor.

2 - Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl Towns - Kentucky, Fr. - F/C
The Wolves have the best odds on lottery night, but fell in the lottery simulation.  Towns is probably who they would go with at #1 though, as they don't have a need at C, with Nik Pekovic and Gorgui Dieng already on the roster.  Towns would give the Wolves the makings of a great defense, as he and Wiggins have the physical tools to lock down their positions.  Offensively, Towns' ability to develop a jump shot to spread the floor will determine his position, and ultimately his value.  If he can shoot out to 20+ feet, he will be the best player in this draft class.

3 - Orlando Magic: Justise Winslow - Duke, Fr. - SF
The Magic have pieces in place at just about every spot on the roster except for SF.  Payton and Oladipo make for a promising backcourt and Vucevic should pair nicely with Aaron Gordon and/or Tobias Harris at PF.  If they pick outside of the top two and Winslow is there, it's hard to see him not being the pick.  With Payton, Oladipo and Winslow patrolling the perimeter, the Magic would have one of the more intriguing defensive units in the league going forward.  Winslow isn't a slouch offensively either, even if he may not develop into a go-to option.

4 - Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell - Ohio State, Fr. - G
Rumor has it that Russell is who the Sixers have their eyes on entering the draft.  That makes sense, as they're certainly set in the frontcourt with Embiid and Noel, meaning they probably won't be interested in Towns or Okafor without making a trade.  Russell would give the Sixers the shooting they sorely need with some positional flexibility to build their roster around, thanks to his size and playmaking.

5 - Los Angeles Lakers: Emmanuel Mudiay - USA, 1996 - PG
There's a fairly sizable talent drop-off from Mudiay to whoever you see as the 6th-best prospect, so it's hard to see this pick being anybody else, even if Mudiay's game does clash with Jordan Clarkson's.  Clarkson, the 2014 2nd-rounder, and Mudiay both struggle to shoot from the outside, but Mudiay's ceiling is so high that a team like the Lakers can't afford to pass on him.  If they were to make a bold move here, they could go with Willie Cauley-Stein to add some punch to a lackluster defense.

6 - Sacramento Kings: Kristaps Porzingis - Latvia, 1995 - PF
The Kings could use help at PG and PF/C entering this draft.  Which direction they choose to go is anybody's best guess.  Don't be shocked if Sacramento decides to snag Cauley-Stein to bolster the frontcourt defense, nominally sliding DeMarcus Cousins to PF on offense.  While that wouldn't be surprising, I think the Kings grab a stretch four to provide more room for Boogie to operate within.  Porzingis is a high-risk, high-reward pick, but if he pays off, the Kings' frontcourt would be virtually unguardable.

7 - Denver Nuggets: Mario Hezonja - Croatia, 1995 - G/F
Hezonja is another high-risk, high-reward prospect, something that the Nuggets could use more of.  Denver isn't atrocious at any position, but they don't have true long-term solutions anywhere other than PG, where Ty Lawson holds serve.  Even there, Lawson seems likely to be dealt this offseason after clashing with management and coaches last year.  Hezonja gives Denver the first piece in what should be a quick rebuild if they play their assets properly.

8 - Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson - Arizona, Fr. - SF
The Pistons would also likely be fine with Hezonja or Porzingis.  Barring a good free agent signing on the perimeter, Johnson could start from day one at SF for Detroit.  The franchise hasn't had even a serviceable player at the position since Tayshaun Prince was in his prime in the mid/late 2000's.  Johnson has some growing to do on the offensive end of the floor, but his defensive upside makes him more than worthy of being a top-10 pick.

9 - Charlotte Hornets: Devin Booker - Kentucky, Fr. - SG
The Hornets' options at SG are as follows: Gerlad Henderson, Lance Stephenson, Troy Daniels.  Henderson is decent, the Lance experiment was a gross failure and Daniels is nothing more than end of the rotation fodder.  With young, reliable options at every other position, why not grab some much-needed shooting in Booker?  He's got decent size for a 2-guard and won't need the ball to score, making him a good fit next to the ball-dominant Kemba Walker.  Plus, Booker's elite outside shooting plays nicely next to MKG's non-existent outside shot on the wing.

10 - Miami Heat: Kelly Oubre - Kansas, Fr. - SF
The Heat need depth just about everywhere following a season where they handed out a bunch of 10-day contracts, desperately trying to find serviceable rotation players.  This pick looks much better if Luol Deng is back next season, removing any pressure Oubre may face.  He's got the frame and the athletic ability to be a quality NBA player, and a season or two apprenticing under Deng may be just what Oubre needs.

11 - Indiana Pacers: Willie Cauley-Stein - Kentucky, Jr. - C
The Pacers weren't shy about their plans for current C Roy Hibbert: If he exercises his player option, he can expect to see a reduced role.  With Hibbert already on ice and only Ian Mahinmi behind him, expect the Pacers to at least consider a C in the draft.  Cauley-Stein would give the Pacers a player with a defensive upside similar to Hibbert's, but with a different offensive profile.  WCS fits the Pacers' desire to play faster, which will include playing Paul George at PF from time-to-time.  You want a good help-side shot blocker if you're going to go small, and WCS is just that.

12 - Utah Jazz: Frank Kaminsky - Wisconsin, Sr. - F/C
Utah and Quin Snyder tried to turn Enes Kanter into a stretch big last year, as he fit the bill better than mainstays Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.  Kaminsky fits the Jazz offense a lot better than Kanter in that role, and would make for a good complement to the rim-protecting Gobert and the mostly paint-bound Favors.  For a team ready to make a move up the standings now, Kaminsky's age and maturity would be an added benefit.  If they go somewhere else, Jerian Grant may be in play as insurance in the case that Trey Burke and/or Dante Exum don't pan out.

13 - Phoenix Suns: Myles Turner - Texas, Fr. - F/C
The Suns are set in the backcourt where Eric Bledsoe and (more than likely) Brandon Knight hold down the starting spots.  They're set at the F positions, where the Morris twins, plus P.J. Tucker and T.J. Warren provide excellent depth.  The one spot where the Suns could stand to add some depth is in the post, where Alex Len could use a dynamic complement.  Turner needs some development, and the Suns' deep frontcourt would be a good place to get it.  If Brandan Wright signs a new deal, Turner would hardly be needed as a rookie.

14 - Oklahoma City Thunder: Jerian Grant - Notre Dame, Sr. - PG
Due to some chemistry issues and an impending restricted free agency, the Thunder had to give up Reggie Jackson, their 6th-man at the deadline.  Dion Waiters is too risky (see: terrible) to play big minutes, so the Thunder should look to give themselves more options in the backcourt.  Grant has the skill to play PG and the size to play off the ball, making him a good fit for what OKC needs.

15 - Atlanta Hawks (via BKN): Sam Dekker - Wisconsin, Jr. - SF
Atlanta probably wishes they could draft after free agency when they know what the final resolution is for unrestricted free agents DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap.  Both are set for big paydays, which may be untenable for a Hawks' organization that may feel like it can plug and play cheaper options in Mike Budenholzer's offense.  If Carroll bolts, Dekker would be a safe fall-back option.  His versatile offensive game could be molded within ATL's offense, and his size gives him some defensive upside.

16 - Boston Celtics: Bobby Portis - Arkansas, So. - PF
Boston has a lot of assets but not a lot of fit.  They seem like a good candidate to make some moves entering draft night due to their bevy of draft picks and spare parts.  It isn't safe to assume they'll even make this pick.  If they do, Portis would be great value outside of the lottery, and his range out to 20-ish feet would possibly replace Brandon Bass' place in the offense, as Bass is an unrestricted free agent this summer.  If Boston doesn't believe in James Young at SG/SF, R.J. Hunter and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson may be in play.

17 - Milwaukee Bucks: R.J. Hunter - Georgia State, Jr. - SG
The Bucks have long-term options at PG through PF; seeing as there isn't a viable C option, they go with the best player available.  Hunter could apprentice for a season while O.J. Mayo plays out his contract before assuming meaningful minutes.  You can never have too much scoring punch off of the bench, something that Hunter should bring with him from GSU.

18 - Houston Rockets (via NOP): Tyus Jones - Duke, Fr. - PG
Houston is currently trying to fight through the Western Conference with Pablo Prigioni and Jason Terry at PG after an injury to Patrick Beverley.  Beverley is a free agent this offseason and whether or not he's back, the Rockets will need another option at that spot due to Beverley's injury history.  Jones is a decent value at this point, and could even start right away since Harden is already handling playmaking duties as-is.  Cameron Payne could also be in play here.

19 - Washington Wizards: Trey Lyles - Kentucky, Fr. - PF
Lyles has lottery-type talent, but in this mock there hasn't been a good fit for him.  He has enough range to play as a "stretch-four", even if the NBA three ball isn't in his repertoire just yet.  Washington seems like a good destination for Lyles, as they could bring him along slowly behind Gortat and Nene.

20 - Toronto Raptors: Kevon Looney - UCLA, Fr. - PF
Looney is another new-age forward with lottery talent but no clear fit.  He'll need a few years to fill out his thin frame before he's ready for heavy minutes.  He has the skill level to be a quality starter, but if he never puts on the requisite weight to play PF or adds the necessary skill to play SF, he'll just be a position-less drifter.

21 - Dallas Mavericks: Montrezl Harrell - Louisville, Jr. - PF
The Mavs could use a player like Harrell who can come in right away and make a positive impact.  He's not the kind of guy you can run your offense through, but he makes hustle plays at both ends, specifically on the glass, and could develop stretch-four type range.

22 - Chicago Bulls: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson - Arizona, So. - SF
I'm not wild on RHJ's upside, but I think he can be successful if he lands in the right situation.  The Bulls would fit that billing if Tom Thibodeau is still around, as he seems to get the most out of players with Hollis-Jefferson's profile.  He'll probably never be an offensive asset, but his ability to guard two or three positions has good value in today's NBA.

23 - Portland TrailBlazers: Christian Wood - UNLV, So. - PF
The Blazers need insurance in case LaMarcus Aldridge leaves in free agency, but they could use the extra option even if LMA does return.  Wood has solid upside, and would benefit the Blazers the most if he can spend a few years learning from LMA.

24 - Cleveland Cavaliers: Justin Anderson - Virginia, Jr. - SF
Cleveland gave perimeter minutes to Mike Miller and James Jones in 2014-15.  Justin Anderson would be an upgrade by nature of being more mobile than the parking cones that Miller and Jones are at this point.  His outside shooting is a question mark, but Anderson has a good build and the tenacity to be a solid defender.

25 - Memphis Grizzlies: Cliff Alexander - Kansas, Fr. - PF
Alexander fell from the ranks of "elite prospect" over the course of his freshman season with the Jayhawks.  Part of that was his spot in Bill Self's doghouse and part of that was that he was simply overhyped.  That doesn't mean he can't be a decent pro though, as Alexander's physical profile makes him a good fit for the Grizzlies' frontcourt where he could take some time to develop his skill level.  Memphis can afford the high-risk, high-reward pick late in the 1st.

26 - San Antonio Spurs: Cameron Payne - Murray State, So. - PG
The Spurs are facing a cap squeeze, and adding a serviceable backup at this point in the draft would give them some flexibility.  There's talk that San Antonio could be faced with dealing Patty Mills to create roster flexibility; if that happens, Payne has a direct role as a rookie.  If not, I'm sure the Spurs will take the requisite time to turn him into a killing machine.

27 - Los Angeles Lakers (via HOU): Chris McCullough - Syracuse, Fr. - F
With Mudiay already in tow, the Lakers have the luxury of adding the player with the highest upside at this pick.  There's some overlap with Julius Randle on the roster, but the Lakers really need more depth.  McCullough may be coming off of a torn ACL, but his upside is high enough to make him tempting at the end of the first.

28 - Boston Celtics (via LAC): Dakari Johnson - Kentucky, So. - C
With Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller at the C position, the Celtics don't really have a rim protector on the roster.  Johnson may not fit that role the way DeAndre Jordan or Dwight Howard does, but he protects the paint a lot better than Olynyk and Zeller.  With so many assets lined up, Boston can afford to grab a guy with a small variance.  Johnson's not going to be a star, but it's also hard to see him being 100% useless at the end of his rookie deal.

29 - Brooklyn Nets (via ATL): Delon Wright - Utah, Sr. - PG
Wright very well may be off the board by now, but if he isn't, he would offer the Nets a solid backup PG option who may be able to take over after Deron Williams' contract expires in two seasons.   Wright isn't much of an outside shooter, but his defensive profile suggests that he has value as a pro.

30 - Golden State Warriors: Jarell Martin - LSU, So. - PF
Martin going to the Warriors could make for a seamless transition.  Assuming the Warriors bring back Draymond Green and Marreese Speights, Martin would be able to develop in garbage-time before taking on a more serious role toward the end of his rookie deal.  Martin has good upside offensively and would fit in nicely as a low-usage piece at some point.

31 - Minnesota Timberwolves: George Lucas - Brazil, 1996 - PG

32 - Houston Rockets (via NYK): Jordan Mickey - LSU, So. - PF 

33 - Boston Celtics (via PHI): Rashad Vaughn - UNLV, Fr. - SG

34 - Los Angeles Lakers: Robert Upshaw - Washington, So. - C

35 - Philadelphia 76ers (via ORL): Tyler Harvey - Eastern Washington, Jr. - SG

36 - Minnesota Timberwolves (via SAC): Aleksandar Vezenkov - Cyprus, 1995 - F

37 - Philadelphia 76ers (via DEN): Timothe Luwawu - France, 1995 - SF

38 - Detroit Pistons: Richaun Holmes - Bowling Green, Sr. - PF
Even as an avid college basketball fan, I hadn't heard of Holmes before this season.  Now, I'm convinced that he might be one of the better 2nd-round options in this draft.  Holmes is a dynamic shot blocker thanks to explosive athleticism, and has the skills to develop an offensive game around his jump shot.  Holmes seems like the kind of player you can groom in the mold of Anthony Tolliver, which is all you should really ask for out of a second round pick.  If things break differently, the Pistons would probably like to get their hands on Aleksandar Vezenkov, Anthony Brown, Cedi Osman or Mam Jaiteh.

39 - Charlotte Hornets: Anthony Brown - Stanford, Sr. - SF

40 - Miami Heat - Norman Powell - UCLA, Sr. - SG

41 - Brooklyn Nets: Michael Qualls - Arkansas, Jr. - SG

42 - Utah Jazz: Cedi Osman - Macedonia, 1995 - G/F

43 - Indiana Pacers: Michael Frazier - Florida, Jr. - SG

44 - Phoenix Suns: Terry Rozier - Louisville, So. - PG

45 - Boston Celtics: Aaron White - Iowa, Sr. - F

46 - Milwaukee Bucks: Mam Jaiteh - France, 1994 - C

47 - Philadelphia 76ers (via NOP): Chris Walker - Florida, So. - PF

48 - Oklahoma City Thunder: J.P. Tokoto - UNC, Jr. - G/F

49 - Washington Wizards: Nikola Milutinov - Serbia, 1994 - C

50 - Atlanta Hawks (via TOR): Alpha Kaba - France, 1996 - PF

51 - Orlando Magic (via CHI): Brandon Ashley - Arizona, Jr. - PF

52 - Dallas Mavericks: Guillermo Hernangomez - Spain, 1994 - C

53 - Cleveland Cavaliers (via POR): Ilimane Diop - Senegal, 1995 - C

54 - Utah Jazz (via CLE): Keifer Sykes - UW-Green Bay, Sr. - PG

55 - San Antonio Spurs: Arturas Gudaitis - Lithuania, 1993 - C

56 - New Orleans Pelicans (via MEM): Rakeem Christmas - Syracuse, Sr. - PF

57 - Denver Nuggets (via LAC): Olivier Hanlan - Boston College, Jr. - PG

58 - Philadelphia 76ers (via HOU): Moussa Diagne - Senegal, 1994 - C

59 - Atlanta Hawks: Wesley Saunders - Harvard, Sr. - SG

60 - Philadelphia 76ers (via GSW): Joseph Young - Oregon, Sr. - G