With the Orlando Summer League starting tomorrow, Detroit Pistons fans will have a chance to see the team's youth movement in full force. Detroit's 2012 draft picks will join the 2011 draftees and a handful of other players that the team will evaluate. As a reminder, the final Pistons summer league roster will look like this:
So of this group, who will be the standout players? Who will lead the team in each of the important statistical categories? The minute distribution is an unknown and complicates any predictions, but let's take a look into the magic ball...
Detroit Pistons Summer League MVP: Brandon Knight
If Knight gets the playing time, expect him to score often but focus on getting his new teammates involved. There's little doubt that Knight has heard the criticism about him and his weaknesses with leading an offense. He has an opportunity to silence his doubters (me included) and lead by example from the early moments of his partnership with Andre Drummond, Kim English and the other young Pistons. I'm hoping for a big week out of Brandon Knight.
Point leader: Kim English
I haven't loved a Dumars pick more than this one in a long time. He's efficient, productive, head-strong and experienced. Expect his four year college career (which ended better than he could hope) to pay off against the typically scattered, me-first playing style of the summer league. If he gets the burn and the touches, he's got the best chance to lead the Pistons in scoring after Brandon Knight.
Rebound leader: Vernon Macklin
One might think Andre Drummond would have the nod here, but Drummond isn't a stand-out rebounder. Macklin wasn't either, but his time in the D-League was unreal on the glass, and it was the same in garbage time in the NBA. He's fighting for his life in the Summer League, as he doesn't currently have a contract with the Pistons. If he gets the burn, expect Macklin to capitalize on his strong NBA/NBADL numbers against even competition.
Block leader: Andre Drummond
It's what he does. The Pistons may not have had a better shot blocking threat in their roster since Ben Wallace during the Going to Work days. He's horribly raw on just about everything else, but it's fair to expect Drummond to show his grit doing what he does best. If you're sitting in the first row in Orlando, you better duck when the ball comes near 'Dre.
Assist Leader: Brandon Knight
As hinted at above, Knight has probably heard the criticism of his offensive leadership. If he's capable of running an offense, expect to see him opt for the pass over the shot in the Summer League. If you don't see that, be concerned or help yourself to more Kool-aid.
Steal Leader: Kim English
He was a thief in college. He's led the usual suspects amongst the new Pistons in steals per 40, pace adjusted, so that is likely to be on display in Orlando. The other likely candidate is Austin Daye, who wasn't much of a stealer in college but has been effective per minute in the big leagues.
Efficiency Leader: Kyle Singler
Quite the dark horse pick, I know. You'd think a big man would be the efficiency leader, but Macklin and Drummond are poor from the free throw line and Monroe isn't playing. Singler may be the most experienced player on the Pistons roster in Orlando, and he was pretty solid in limited burn in Europe. He might be a pleasant surprise this week. While Kim English had a senior season that might point to an efficient summer league, he wasn't a hot shot prior to that senior season so the sample is too small to bet on.
Foul Leader: Vernon Macklin
Macklin dominated the D-League and, if the Pistons are honestly giving all of their roster a shot in Orlando, he might prove himself to be a necessity. If this is the case, I also expect Macklin to collect the most fouls. This is entirely predicated upon allotted minutes, but his foul competition, Andre Drummond, has been a more careful player statistically.
Pistons Summer League Record: 3 - 2
I'm betting above .500 for Detroit in the Orlando Summer league, solely because the other teams don't have the heat Detroit does in this competition. There's only one team fielding a squad that could compete with Detroit in a multiple game series, and they may be the best in Florida given their frontcourt advantage...
Orlando Summer League Champion: Boston Celtics
Sullinger and Melo up front may comprise the toughest frontcourt in Orlando next week.
Orlando Summer League MVP: Jared Sullinger
Yes, my opinion is biased because I think Sullinger was the 2nd best player in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was taken low because of a medical red flag and a bunch of other stuff that means nothing given how productive he is on court. Expect him to be huge this week, and expect the talking points to be about Sullinger falling too low when this contest is over. The issue with Sullinger was never his ability to immediately produce, and that's what he's very likely to do starting tomorrow.
So, Pistons fans, what are your pre-emptive awards? Who do you think will be the big names of the 2012 Orlando Summer League? Who will be the standouts for the Pistons? Talk the talk in the comments...