That was ... interesting. I don't think anyone outside of 5 Championship Drive thought last night would go the way it did, passing on guys like Chris Douglas-Roberts, Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Joey Dorsey and Nathan Jawai twice (and Bill Walker three times!). DBB reader Fuj summed up my feelings, and I'm guessing many of yours:
I thought Joe fleeced everyone when we traded down and CDR was still there, but then…blah. And then Bill Walker was there, but then…I’m sure you all were feeling it too. I left the bar feeling like we should have used the trade w/Seattle to address our two biggest needs: take the best center prospect left with the 32 pick and Walker as backup SF with the 46. I don’t know what happened here. In Joe we trust I suppose.
Instead of any of the guys rumored to receive a promise -- instead of any names most people actually recognize -- the Pistons ended up with a narcoleptic who's played 18 games the last three years, a 6-foot-10 (and a quarter!) big man who plays small and an amazing athlete with a reputation for flopping and playing dirty.
(Quick note: Walter Sharpe's collegiate career spans 40 games, not 18, as some outlets have mistakenly reported. He played 22 as a freshman with Mississippi State in 2004-05, six as a sophomore, sat out his third year and played 12 last year after transferring to UAB. Everyone seems to be latching on to the idea that his entire career is 18 games long because ESPN and Yahoo and the like are only showing three years on their player profile pages, but he's from the high school class of 2004, the same as Dwight Howard, Josh Smith, Rudy Gay, J.R. Smith, Boobie Gibson, Shaun Livingston, Arron Afflalo, DJ White, etc ... I now return you to your regularly-scheduled post ...)
Is there a method to this madness? Or will this end up being the most disappointing draft since 2003?
Time will tell, but I found this explanation by Keith Langlois comforting (hat-tip: several readers in the comments, with Quick Darshan being the first):
Joe Dumars was smiling like a guy who knows something about Walter Sharpe that nobody else knows. He watched "a ton of tape" on him and brought him in to work out, holding him over for a second day.
"He’s good, man, he’s good," Dumars said. "Handles it, shoots it, long and smooth."
Dumars said Sharpe will be a small forward in the NBA, though he was playing out of position at UAB as a power forward.
As for Sharpe's history of off-court trouble - arrested for disorderly conduct, academically inelgible, shot two years ago though it appears he was an innocent victim - Dumars said almost all of it traces to the narcolepsy only recently diagnosed. He said Sharpe is now on medication and that "he says it's changed his life." Dumars said he's talked to "more people in Alabama than I care to remember" and is perfectly convinced Sharpe has a firm grip on his life now.
Dumars was apparently ready to take him at 29 when Seattle called asking them to take DJ White. As for Trent Plaisted and Deron Washington, they're apparently headed to Europe for a year. Dumars told Langlois that he didn't think there would be a roster spot for more than one rookie, so he didn't even consider players who told him they wouldn't be interested in playing a year overseas. Most of us viewed Walker as a potential backup for Tayshaun Prince, but if Dumars thinks Sharpe can fill that role, I can understand not wanting to clutter the roster with redundant parts.
That being said, is there really a shortage of roster spots? The Pistons have five unrestricted free agents -- Jarvis Hayes, Walter Herrmann, Juan Dixon, Theo Ratliff and Lindsey Hunter -- and I'd be shocked if more than one returned, if that. Since Dumars is apparently only planning on one rookie making the roster, that means there are four other roster spots up for grabs. The Pistons do have the full mid-level exception to spend, but they'll almost certainly end up filling the end of the bench with minimum wage veterans.
I'm not a scout -- hell, I'm not even much of a college basketball fan -- but you're telling me that one of those cheap vets will be more useful (next year and down the road) than a guy like Douglas-Roberts, who simply fills buckets, or a guy like Dorsey, DeAndre Jordan or DeVon Harden, who could someday blossom into a starting center?
Right now, I'm not convinced. But I'm also not worried.
For one, I don't think the other shoe has dropped. Who knows, maybe in a few weeks when the Pistons pull off their long-awaited blockbuster we'll understand the true value of an empty roster spot? Or maybe in a year or two when Plaisted and Washington return with a few more stamps in their passport and are ready to contribute to a rotation we'll have a greater appreciation for being patient.
All I know for sure is that while it's natural to make an instant judgment on the draft, it's also completely foolish.
At this point a year ago, I wasn't sold at all on Rodney Stuckey. Now? I understand completely why he's Detroit's only untouchable. (And don't think Dumars hasn't been tempted -- DraftExpress reports the Grizzlies offered the No. 5 pick and filler for Stuckey, which the Pistons shot down.) When Jason Maxiell was drafted, I thought it strange that the Pistons were wasting their time with an undersized power forward. Same with Tayshaun Prince -- surely he's too skinny to last in this league, right? And back in 2003, I thought it was a no-brainer to take Darko over Carmelo (and honestly, it took me until last year to admit that Darko probably won't ever reach his potential).
What's my point? I'm in no way, shape or form enthused about this draft ... which is all the more reason to think things will turn out just fine.
If there's one thing this front office deserves, it's the benefit of the doubt. I'm willing to wait to see how all of this shakes out.
Non-draft-related side note: Thanks for putting up with the extended absence this past week -- the move is still a work in progress, but things should get back to normal now that I have an actual internet connection.
(That said, everyone knows the comments are the lifeblood of this site, and those never stopped hopping -- traffic actually increased as the front page grew more and more stale. I'm guessing that Baron Davis rumor helped spur that along, but if there was ever a reminder of who drives this site, that was it.)