The Pistons are nervous about sending 18-year-old rookie Amir Johnson to their D-League affiliate:
With the minor-league system in place, you would figure the Pistons could send Johnson to their NBDL affiliate in Fayetteville, N.C., and let him get some real on-the-court training.
But it doesn't look like it's going to work that way.
"It's not just that he's a rookie, but he's a high school kid and there's a lot more involved in his first year," said George David, the Pistons' director of scouting, who was one of the first NBA scouts to discover Johnson, a Los Angeles-area high school star. "It's not just about his development on the basketball court. He's 18. We have to make sure we are on top of him on the court and off the court.
"For us to send him away for an extended period of time, we're just not confident that's the right thing to do for him right now."
David said it would be different if Johnson had played three or four years in college and had lived on his own. But presently, the Pistons don't know what the setup will be in Fayetteville, in terms of playing and living conditions.
The Pistons, at this point, appear inclined to keep Johnson with the parent club, even if it means he stays on the inactive list most of the season.
"There is something to be said for accountability, for actually seeing guys every day," said John Hammond, the Pistons' vice president of basketball. "I mean, his face time would be in our facility working with our team every day. It doesn't really get any better than that."
Some people are poking fun of the decision, using it as an example of just how pointless the D-League is at the moment. Since there's only one D-League affiliate for every four NBA teams this season, one line of thought is that NBA teams won't want to send down prospects to learn the "wrong" system.
Personally, I doubt that has factored into Detroit's decision at all. No matter how good he is, he won't be cracking the rotation for at least two or three years (assuming he doesn't pull a Korleone Young and disappear), so there's no harm in letting him stick around and spend the bulk of the year learning from experienced veterans who know what it takes to win a championship.
And let's face it, if he's as raw as they say he is (the article mentions he's just now learning how to pick-and-roll?!?), who's to say he'd actually be playing significant minutes for Fayetteville? If he's going to ride the pine, he may as well do it for the Pistons, learning how to practice and how to keep his nose clean off the court.