Luigi Datome: 2013-14 Detroit Pistons Preview

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

With a near complete starting line turnover, there is no shortage of X factors for the Pistons this year. But Datome may be the biggest.

2012-13 Year in Review

Datome entered last season looking to build on a breakthrough season. He had been hyped as one of the great young players in the Italian eague for several years, once earning the title of Best Player Under 22 (yes, it's actually an official award there) but struggled to gain playing time. In his first opportunity in 2011-12, he put up 14 points per game on an impressive shooting line of 53/43/93. Gigi built on the solid season last year by bringing home the league's MVP award with 16.4 points per game on 47/39/93 shooting.

Though the Italian league isn't the top European league, a distinction which belongs to ACB, it's still quite solid. It's the league that produced NBA-ready players like Jonas Jerebko, Danilo Gallinari, Andrea Bargnani, and Manu Ginobili. One of Datome's teammates last year was a quite recognizable name in Gani Lawal, who really ought to be playing in the NBA.

So, there's this question that's been chewing on my mind ever since first diving into Datome's numbers, his build, his age and his shooting. Did Joe Dumars go and sign Danilo Gallinari for under $1.8 million per year?

In 2011-12 Gallo put up 14.6 points per game on 10.8 shots and 4.7 rebounds. Meanwhile in Italy, Datome was scoring 14.1 points per game on 9.6 shots with 5 rebounds. Last year it was 16.2 points on 12.3 shots with 5.2 rebounds for Gallinari and 16.4 points on 11.4 shots with 5.6 shots for Datome. Statistically, the biggest edge that Gallinari has had on Datome in the past has been his ability to get to the line. Datome is automatic from the stripe, regularly shooting above 90 percent. But he rarely made use of the ability, often taking fewer than two attempts per game. There has been a noted increase in his focus in drawing fouls the past two seasons, though, up to 2.6 and 4.2 attempts, respectively.

The similarities look pretty decent to me.

Eurobasket has provided Pistons fans with their first in-depth look at Datome, leaving an overall favorable first impression while helping an injury-depleted Italian team to a 5-2 record to this point. He's led the team in both scoring and rebounding, putting up 14 points per game on 49/42/100 shooting and five rebounds per game.

His shooting ability has been as impressive as advertised. He has demonstrated his shooting ability in a variety of ways -- coming off catch and shoot, pick and roll and isolation. He's shown a nice step-back and some shots off the baseline are reminiscent of Rasheed Wallace. Most of Datome's work was done with the jump shot rather than attacking the rim, both from mid-range and behind the arch. He has shown the ability to put the ball on the floor competently with either hand, but lacks the athletic fluidity to get too aggressive. As the tournament has gone on he's increased his number of trips to the line, but still is only just over two per game.

Datome played quite a bit of power forward for Italy's undersized, perimeter heavy roster, but often looked like he had enough upper body strength when battling opposing post players. However, despite his lack of athleticism, the potential is there for him to work his way into the wide open shooting guard battle for the Pistons.

2013-14 Projected Production

It's tough to say -- there's a lot to get excited about. But expecting Datome to come in and fill a Gallinari-esque role for the Pistons is certainly expecting too much. Datome mostly jumped on the NBA radar once the free agency period began and there's a reason it only took $3.5 million to retain his services.

Still, Gigi is a great fit for the needs in the Pistons lineup and it's not hard to see him hit the ground running. If that happens? Well, with the lack of a Rookie of the Year front runner or the big time scorers that voters love to stick on their ballots, Datome could turn into a dark-horse candidate. His biggest barrier will be the number of players competing for minutes at the wing, including Rodney Stuckey, Kyle Singler, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jerebko.

Prediction

20 minutes per game, 9 points, 3 rebounds, 42 fg%, 39% 3pt

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