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You heard it here first* -- Kim English will be the first guard off the bench. He brings leadership and maturity uncommon for a rookie, but it's not going to mean much unless he hits open 3-pointers.
A statistical outlier or a player's natural growth? A one-year fluke or maturity? A mirage or taking your game to a new level?
What you think of Kim English relies heavily on how you would answer the above questions. You see, the Detroit Pistons drafted English after a senior year at Missourri where he played out of his mind. If it was an aberration then the Pistons probably wasted their second-round draft pick. If not? Well, then he will probably be the first guard off the bench.**
2011-12 Year in Review
14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 52.1% shooting, 45.9% 3-point shooting, 72.5% free-throw shooting
Those are some unbelievable numbers from his senior year in Mizzou. Unfortunately, they might literally be unbelievable. You see, his field-goal percentages in his first three years of college -- 38.7, 39.3, 36.6. His three-point percentages -- 37.3, 37, 36.6.
Needless to say, that is a big jump in production in his final year. Can it be trusted? All we can do now is evaluate his Summer League and pre-season performance and hope. The generic evaluation would be that if he can't hit at around 40 percent on his 3s, I'm not sure there is a place for him in the NBA. But I'm not so certain of that.
Since the moment his name was announced and I started looking into his background he has reminded me of former Piston Arron Afflalo. Afflalo came into the NBA with a reputation as being a prolific spot-up shooter coming out of UCLA. The other elements of his game were shaky and many thought Detroit reached when selecting him at the bottom of the second round in the 2007 draft.
Afflalo came in, established himself early as an intelligent player, good teammate and extremely hard worker. He also was a quality defender who knew D was going to be his ticket off the bench and into the game. In his first two years in Detroit he showed improvement in other areas of his game -- he would run the floor and cut to the basket with authority, he would look for open teammates, he wouldn't be afraid to get in a scrum and try and grab a rebound.
English has all those same qualities. Yes, as a Pistons fan I hope that he hits a ton of 3-pointers but I also see a player who can do all the little things to win. There is no doubting his maturity or intelligence and he's always been willing to do what it takes for his team to win.
Whether he was asked to play power forward at Missouri or asked to play point guard at the pre-draft Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. And in Summer League he handled the ball with authority and made few mistakes in a setting ripe for bad communication, lax defense and little ball sharing.
2012-13 Projected Production
All that being said, I would have absolutely no problem if the minute English came to the NBA to the minute he left all he could do is defend adequately and be a dead-eye long-range shooter. Players might try and brush off the specialist label but having any players that excelled in any particular area has been a rarity on this team. And if the team wants to build around Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight then it needs players that can help those two succeed.
In Monroe's case it could be an athletic, shot-blocking beast like Andre Drummond. For Knight and to an even greater extend Rodney Stuckey, he needs players that don't need the ball in their hands but can hit the open shot and help space the floor as they drive the lane.
Still, English is just a rookie and I think he will get on the floor for his defense more than his offense. He's just not going to be able to do a lot of the things as easily as he did them at Missouri. NBA defenses are just too good. But on a team that has very few quality wing defenders I look to English as someone who is going to adapt quickly to the NBA game. He's smart and a willing defender already and even with average athleticism, he can use his size and strength to keep many players in check.
Just look at this video tads posted in Fanshots. English talks about his getting more comfortable in the system and talks about the things he knows he has to do to contribute. And he also name drops players, but not the superstars like Kevin Durant or LeBron James.
He says he wants (and thinks he can have) the offensive game and impact of Kyle Korver and the defensive game of Thabo Sefolosha. Only a real student of the NBA wants to emulate players like that. He goes on to mention that coach Lawrence Frank sent him clips of Bruce Bowen to study. More of this please.
21 minutes, 8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 45% shooting, 40% 3-point shooting, 74% free-throw shooting
Before the season I thought that English would have the biggest immediate impact of the rookie class. After seeing Drummond go full beast mode on the Raptors in the first pre-season game I'm trying to make sure I don't get too excited. Regardless, I think that English is going to show that his long-range accuracy and efficiency in his final year at Mizzou was no fluke. I also anticipate that he will be called upon to defend shooting guards and some small forwards that the Pistons are having trouble containing.
In English I hope that we have Arron Afflalo 2.0. And this time hopefully Dumars sees the value in those kind of contributions. Long story short, English is going to be the first guard off the bench, you heard it here first!***
*You may not have heard it here first
**He may not be the first guard off the bench
*** See above