Introducing Will Blalock

With the last pick in the entire draft Wednesday night, the Pistons knew it was a complete crapshoot what kind of player would be available to them. Fortunately, though, a point guard they asssumed would be taken in the top of the second round somehow fell into their laps. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Will Blalock, the newest Detroit Piston:

Will Blalock

Blalock is so good he plays with his eyes closed. Court vision? More like court sonar.

Seriously, though, Blalock was expected to go much higher than he did -- Joe Dumars described him as the "Matt Leinart" of the NBA Draft. And considering Blalock left a year of eligibility on the table at Iowa State, he was probably banking on going a bit higher than he did, too. From Iowa State's press release:

AMES, Iowa - Former Iowa State point guard Will Blalock was selected as the final pick (No. 60) of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons.

Blalock, a native of Boston, Mass., is the first Cyclone to be drafted since Jackson Vroman in 2004 and is the 31st player in school history to be picked in the draft.

Blalock was a third-team all-Big 12 pick in 2006, averaging 15.4 points and 6.1 assists. He ranked second in the Big 12 and 10th nationally in assists in his final season with the Cyclones. A three-year starter, Blalock amassed 1,078 points, 464 assists and 177 steals in his career. His career assist and steal totals rank in ISU's top-six.

For a while, Blalock thought there might be a chance he'd be drafted by his hometown Celtics -- after working out with Boston, he gave an interesting interview to Celtics.com:

Celtics.com: So after working out with us, can you imagine playing for the Boston Celtics?

Blalock: "I've thought about it, and it would definitely be a lifelong dream. It will be tough [to make it], but it would be a dream come true, and I'd make the best of it."

Trust me, Will, playing for the Celtics isn't all it's cracked up to be. As a backup point guard, you'd be stuck carrying Sebastian Telfair's luggage, which is actually more dangerous than it sounds. But in Detroit, you'll get a chance to win championships with a group of teammates that genuinely like each other.

So, what can this Blalock kid do? Celtics.com asked him that very question:

Celtics.com: How would you describe your game?

Blalock: "Getting into that green [the paint], making plays, getting to the rim, pulling up. I can pretty much do it all."

Joe Dumars' comments on Pistons.com:

(On if he was surprised that Will Blalock was available at #60):

"Once you saw the point guards started sliding so much, it has a domino effect so you knew there was going to be some good points guards getting pushed down to the second round. We knew late in the first round that there would be a couple of guys there that are really good players. We had him (Blalock) going in the 30s. We had him going from 31-39 or 31-40 so we caught a break with him sliding down there."

(On what Blalock showed during his workout):

"Quickness, a strong body, an ability to explode to the basket, can see the floor and just had a good handle of himself. He was under control the whole time; wasn’t out of control. We watched tape of him and he sees the floor really well. He can really distribute the ball."

After the jump are some more objective scouting reports, plus a pretty slick highlight video.

NBADraft.net:

Strengths: An exciting floor general who makes those around him better ... A true PG with great handle and passing ability ... Excellent court vision, has a knack for finding the open teammate and makes the difficult pass seem easy ... Extraordinarily long arms make him very effective in a number of areas, (he's around 6 foot and has a 6-5 wingspan, if not more) He'll throw down on the break if given an opening and routinely dunks on ally oops. Rebounds well ... Great defender with quick hands ... Has very good quickness and gets great elevation ... Despite being a bit of a gunslinger passing the ball, he rarely makes many turnovers and has great ball protection ... Free throw shooting is excellent ... Has a great first step and loves to go baseline ... Great body strength ...

Weaknesses: Must gain better consistency and range on his jumpshot ... Not a great finisher around the basket, he is improved but must become better ... Must develop a more consistent 3 point shot, he can shoot it, but if he improved it would make him deadly ... Can be too unselfish at times, must develop the ability to take over offensively in crunch time ...

Scout.com:

Blalock is one of the many players who would have been better served by playing another season of college basketball (he’s signed with an agent) with the likelihood of landing in the first round being much greater a year from now. He’s among the best penetrating-guards in the draft.

DraftExpress (via Yahoo!):

Strengths: Blalock is a deceptively strong, athletic point guard with a massive wingspan for someone his size. He’s a true point guard with strong ball-handling and passing skills. Blalock has a quick first step and does well in the lane, especially excelling on the drive-and-dish, where he uses his good court vision and passing to exploit defensive seams. He can take the ball to the basket or pull-up in the lane. Blalock runs the break just as well as he does a halfcourt set, making good decisions and getting the ball to the open man. Blalock is a scrappy defender who uses his length and good hands to harass his opponent.

Weaknesses: Blalock’s biggest weakness is his outside jumper. He is an adequate shooter from behind the arc, but lacks consistency and has not shown NBA range. Blalock struggled from the free-throw line in his junior year, shooting only 66 percent. Defensively, his team exclusively played zone defense, so it’s tough to assess how he’d adjust to playing man-to-man. He’s slightly undersized, though has the length to partially make up for it.

Rivals.com:

Strengths: Blalock is a deceptively strong, athletic point guard with a massive wingspan for someone his size. He’s a true point guard with strong ball-handling and passing skills. Blalock has a quick first step and does well in the lane, especially excelling on the drive-and-dish, where he uses his good court vision and passing to exploit defensive seams. He can take the ball to the basket or pull-up in the lane. Blalock runs the break just as well as he does a halfcourt set, making good decisions and getting the ball to the open man. Blalock is a scrappy defender who uses his length and good hands to harass his opponent.

Weaknesses: Blalock’s biggest weakness is his outside jumper. He is an adequate shooter from behind the arc, but lacks consistency and has not shown NBA range. Blalock struggled from the free-throw line in his junior year, shooting only 66 percent. Defensively, his team exclusively played zone defense, so it’s tough to assess how he’d adjust to playing man-to-man. He’s slightly undersized, though has the length to partially make up for it.

My comments: So, he sounds like he's a great defender, a solid passer who commits few turnovers, and someone who can really get to the basket. I'm sold.

As for the "must develop the ability to take over offensively in crunch time" bit -- don't worry about it, the Pistons are looking for a backup to play third-quarter minutes, not late in the fourth. I'm not sure how much time Blalock will actually see this year, but he definitely sounds like a guy who's worth holding onto for a season or two to see what happens. At the very least, let's hope he sees some quality minutes down in the D-League.

From the looks of this video below, he's got a litte flair to him (if you're at work listening without volume, he's the guy who makes the last pass):

And, here's a profile of him coming out of high school, which I include solely for the picture -- bring back the braids!

If you haven't yet reached Will Blalock overload and want to read even more about him, head over to Full-Court Press.

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