Am I just wearing Detroit blinders or is Bismack Biyombo officially the most talked about player in the draft? Fortunately even with the hype, the consensus until this week has been that he'll likely be in the mix when the Detroit Pistons draft No. 8 -- but that may be changing. From Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated:
If it gets interesting at No. 4 -- and it does -- it could get really be interesting at No. 5. Sources said Toronto president and general manager Bryan Colangelo is all-in on the team's new defensive-minded approach, and he is considering taking Biyombo there despite the widely held belief that the athletic defender/rebounder/shot-blocker would go lower. The Raptors, of course, just hired Dallas assistant and defensive specialist Dwane Casey as their head coach and are clearly looking to improve significantly on that end of the floor.
Colangelo has considered moving back to take Biyombo as well. Connecticut guard Kemba Walker, San Diego State small forward Kawhi Leonard and Czech Republic forward Jan Vesely remain possibilities for Toronto, but it sounds as if the love affair is with Biyombo. This comes as a surprise in light of Biyombo's recent workout at Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, where he was even worse than expected on the offensive end and appeared to have hurt his stock.
That's not good. Amick also offered this tidbit:
Biyombo worked out in Detroit (No. 8) on Tuesday and a source said he played well, but no one on hand played as well as Kansas power forward Markieff Morris. Despite the fact that his twin brother, Marcus, has long been expected to be taken first between the two brothers, the source said Markieff is legitimately in play there.
Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News agrees, noting on Twitter, "Source: Markieff Morris may have put himself in the mix for the No. 8 pick with the #Pistons with his workout today."
Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press concurs, tweeting: Here's a from what I'm hearing: 1. Markieff; 2. Thompson and Biyombo. 4. Benson. 5. Vernon Macklin. 6. Jordan Williams. #Pistons.
We haven't heard too much about Markieff until now, and I'm not sure how one good workout this close to the draft should change things -- after three years at Kansas, Markieff's body of work should speak for itself. (For more on what Markieff brings to the table, check out Patrick Hayes' scouting report from May on PistonPowered.)
ESPN's Chad Ford also weighed in on Tuesday's workout, and he was one of the few people to mention Tristan Thompson: "Pistons workout with Biyombo, Tristan Thompson and Markieff Morris is over. All three apparently had their moments."
A few hours later, Ford expounded a bit at TrueHoop:
I'm hearing that if either [Kawhi] Leonard or [Kemba] Walker is on the board at No. 8, the Pistons are likely to take one of them. If both are gone, it's down to Biyombo, Tristan Thompson and Markieff Morris. The Pistons really like Valanciunas as well, but sources say they aren't willing to wait a year to get him.
With the caveat that several international big men like Biyombo, Enes Kanter and Donatas Motiejunas weren't included in his analysis, ESPN's John Hollinger's Draft Rater algorithm gives Thompson a solid endorsement. Hollinger explains:
Thompson and [Derrick] Williams had the highest ratings of any player in the Draft Rater this year, and while that doesn't come with the same assurances it does for Kyrie Irving, they both appear to be very solid prospects. Of the 13 players who rated at 15.5 or above in previous iterations, most were very successful as pros, and the ones that weren't tended to fail due to injuries and lack of professionalism -- issues that shouldn't be factors for Thompson and Williams.
Thompson scored a 16.21 in Hollinger's rating system. To put that in perspective, it's a bit below what Blake Griffin (17.14), Andrew Bogut (16.90) and DeMarcus Cousins (16.86) posted coming out of college, but better than Greg Monroe (15.77), Chris Bosh (15.57) and Derrick Favors (15.51).
Before you get too excited, Hollinger's rating system clearly isn't perfect: Thompson is sandwiched between Michael Sweetney (16.70) and Curtis Borchardt (16.01). Who? Exactly. But the fact Thompson ranks as Hollinger's highest-rated big man (with the caveat of the missing internationals) is certainly a feather in his cap, even if no one outside of Hollinger truly understands what goes into the obscure ranking system.
(Markieff Morris, incidentally, ranks 16th with a 10.03. Hey Joe Dumars, remember what I said about not being impressed by workout warriors?)
Update: As most of you probably noticed, Kevin Sawyer got the ball rolling discussing the merits of Hollinger's Draft Rater on Monday. I think the fact that I finally got around to reading Hollinger's article (and not just MFKS' comments about it) is what prompted me to mention it again here. Carry on.