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The "Rodney Stuckey is a Piston" post

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First things first: many, many thanks to PostmanE, who filled in for me last Thursday. While I was stuck listening in a car listening to the NBA Draft on XM, he was doing a bang-up job here keeping everyone informed and entertained -- and for that I owe him an Old Style or three.

Rodney StuckeyRodney Stuckey: The fact that the Pistons had their choice of USC's Nick Young and Eastern Washington's Rodney Stuckey and still went with the kid from the small school actually makes me feel better about this pick. Most of the mock drafts I saw had Young going higher, which made me think like the Pistons would be settling for Stuckey. Now, I see that's not the case -- Joe Dumars and co. must have really seen something they like.

Reading his profile on DraftExpress, it sounds like he should be a great addition:

In a copycat league such as the NBA, scouts and executives are always looking for the next great talent that happens to remind them of some other team’s biggest star. In this case, we’ve seen a few quotes this year already comparing Rodney Stuckey to the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade. But is that really a fair comparison?

Physically, there are certainly some similarities. Standing a hair under 6-4 without shoes, with a great frame, a 6-7 wingspan, and solid athletic ability, Stuckey passes the eye test and then some. He is strong and quick, with a powerful first step, and has great body control putting the ball on the floor and making his way to the rack.

In terms of his style of play, Stuckey reminds of Wade to a certain extent as well, although he is obviously nowhere near as naturally talented. He has very nice ball-handling skills with either hand, being the main facilitator of his team’s offense, and likes to push the ball up the floor in transition. His footwork is outstanding, and he’s able to draw plenty of fouls through the work he does from the triple-threat position, either getting his man to bite on a pump-fake or going to the basket after utilizing a big time crossover and stopping on a dime from mid-range. Stuckey can also go into the post a bit to punish smaller, weaker matchups, showing really nice toughness in the process. His bread and butter, though, by far, lies in his mid-range game.

Considering Detroit's starting backcourt of Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton jump-shooters (yes, until I have reason to believe otherwise I'm still banking on Chauncey returning), I'm excited about Stuckey's ability to get into the paint and score, but it's also nice to see that's not all that he can do. Usually the term "combo guard" is reserved for short shooting guards, regardless of whether he can actually play the point. But DraftExpress suggests Stuckey does have some point guard skills:

Stuckey is more than just a pure scorer, though, he’s also pretty good at creating for others too. His court vision is very solid, particularly threading the needle to cutters from the perimeter, driving and dishing in traffic, or finding open teammates in transition. Despite the 17+ shots he took per game, he doesn’t come off as a selfish player when watching him on tape, even when Eastern Washington played against much more talented opponents like Washington or Gonzaga and he was forced to shoulder a considerable amount of the scoring load. He did average 5.5 assists per game on the season after all.

That doesn’t mean that Stuckey is necessarily ready to be a point guard either, though. For one, his decision making skills can be really poor at times, forcing up ill-advised shots early in the shot-clock, lowering his shoulder and driving into a brick wall, or trying to make high degree of difficulty passes in half-court sets, leading to unnecessary turnovers.

OK, so he's not without his faults, but bear in mind that when he was in college he was far and away the most talented guy on his team. I'd like to think that when he's asked to run the point in the NBA he'll make smarter decisions, in part because he knows that with the talent around him he won't have to do it all himself. From the Free Press:

Dumars called each player "battle-tested." Stuckey's fight came as a small-school, small-conference guard trying to make a name for himself and win games without a strong supporting cast.

"He had to be the guy who had to do everything for his team," Dumars said.

Stuckey will be asked to back up point guard Chauncey Billups -- assuming he returns as an unrestricted free agent -- and shooting guard Richard Hamilton. Stuckey has no qualms about that.

Asked whether he played much at the point in college, the 6-foot-5 guard said, "Every play."

In other words, he did it all.

"Yeah, pretty much," Stuckey said. "I had to bring the ball up, get into the offense and get into my position. I'm really comfortable in the one spot, and if I need to play the two, I can do that. Whatever they need me to do, I'm willing to do that."

Right now, the Pistons have a bit of a glut at the guard position, but that could change if Lindsey Hunter retires and Flip Murray is traded (which Chris McCosky thinks will happen). There's also a new "Rip Hamilton to the Sonics" rumor, but I'm putting little to no weight in that just yet (read the article, it's a second-hand account of what someone heard on talk radio ... not exactly what I'd call credible info.)

No matter what happens, it looks like Stuckey will be the first guard off the bench backing up both spots in the backcourt, and if Dumars' mandate to reduce the minutes for starters holds true, that could result in a solid 20 minutes a game.

For more scouting reports/profiles on Stuckey, keep reading after the jump ...

FOXSports.com's Peter Schrager after Stuckey was selected:

You'd have no idea anyone was even taken based on the crowd reaction the Rodney Stuckey selection just got. Ho hum. Personally, I want to stake Rodney in the World Series of Poker this summer. He has some poker face. I asked him yesterday, "Were you given a promise by Detroit?" And he looked me right in the eyes, straight faced, and told me no. Oh, I feel so used. Hoodwinked! Either way, I'm a HUGE Stuckey fan. Loved hanging with him at the media day yesterday and love the fact that he feels like he doesn't have to justify the fact he went to Eastern Washington.

Scout.com:

WHAT’S TO LIKE: Physically, there isn’t a stronger or sturdier backcourt prospect in the draft pool this year. He’s deceptively quick and can readily beat opponents off the dribble going left or right with equal aplomb. He almost always turned in exceptional performances against the best of the Eagles’ non-conference (USC, Washington, etc.) competition during the past two seasons

YOU HAVE TO WONDER: As gifted as he is, why couldn’t he lead his team to more than 15 wins in either of his two college seasons?

FRANK SAYS: NBA talent evaluators are nearly divided in projecting him as a point or shooting (there are question’s about the consistency of his jump shot) guard. We’re opting to drop him into the point guard slot.

NBADraft.net:

Strengths: Tremendous scorer with excellent body strength … Has the ability to play both guard positions, with solid ball handling and passing ability … Very good at driving to the basket and creating scores … Has a solid mid range game with a good pull up shot off the dribble … Showed the ability to create offense for himself even with opposing defenses keying on him with 2-3 defenders … Solid 3 point shooter at 37%, hitting 55 on the season ... On top of great offensive skills, he has the ability to lock down opponents defensively … Averaged close to 50% FG and 4 APG despite a weak supporting cast …

Weaknesses: A bit of a tweener at 6-3 as he’s better at the 2-guard position, but showed the ability to run the point as a freshman … Dominated lesser competition, so it’s tougher to gauge his abilities as the level of talent in the Big Sky Conference is inferior … Needs to show better focus on the defensive end of the floor at all times, as he is extremely effective when he gives full effort … He is a tremendous 1-1 talent, but prove he has the ability to involve teammates … A solid though not overwhelming level of athlete ... Could struggle to get shots off the same way on the NBA level as he's small and lacks frekish athleticism ...

NBA.com draft profile:

Career Highlights: Named Honorable Mention All-America by The Associated Press his freshman and sophomore seasons and earned All-Big Sky Conference honors both years. Named Big Sky Most Valuable Player as a freshman. Currently ranks fourth in Eastern Washington history in scoring with 1,438 career points. Also holds the highest career scoring average in school history (24.3 ppg), while ranking fourth in assist average (4.8 apg), fourth in steals (137) and fifth in free throw percentage (.806). Has scored 20 or more points 41 times and has surpassed the 30-point mark 15 times. Sat out the 2004-05 season at Eastern Washington while establishing academic eligibility. ...

Strengths: Combo guard with excellent strength and scoring ability. Solid ball-handler and passer. Plays hard at both ends of the floor.

Personal: Majored in interdisciplinary studies/criminal justice. Nickname is "Hot Rod". Favorite athlete is Dwyane Wade.

Previously on DBB:
Did the Pistons make a promise to Rodney Stuckey?