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NBA Draft News and Profiles

NBA draft rumors: Pistons like Cody Zeller, but not Trey Burke

Would the Pistons really take an undersized big man without a position over an undersized point guard rated as the best in the draft? That's what one rumor suggests might happen.

Gregory Shamus

I've long taken for granted that the Pistons would jump at the chance to draft Trey Burke (SBN scouting report) if he's available at the No. 8 pick. As a Michigan grad, I'm extremely biased, but that's partially my point: in addition to Burke being rated the best point guard in the draft by most objective pundits, the fact that millions of fans within driving distance of the Palace already know his name (with at least half staunchly in his corner) gives him amazing box office appeal.

(The ability to sell tickets shouldn't be the only factor when making a pick, but there's no reason it can't be a deciding factor -- especially for a team that ranked 28th out of 30 in attendance, and dead last by a huge margin in percent of capacity filled.)

Apparently, though, folks like me are putting Joe Dumars in an uncomfortable position. From Bob Finnan of the News-Herald (from the same article that mentioned Detroit's would-be trade for Tristan Thompson):

-- The Pistons will likely hope Michigan point guard Trey Burke (6-1 1/4, 187) won't be on the board when they use the No. 8 pick. There is intense pressure from the fan base for the Pistons to take the undersized Burke. They don't appear to be real high on him as a prospect.

-- Most observers feel the Pistons will select a player to bolster their backcourt. However, don't be shocked if they take Indiana forward/center Cody Zeller. They are supposedly very high on the former Hoosiers standout.

Joe Dumars made a mistake reaching for a hometown hero Mateen Cleaves with the No. 14 pick in 2000, but I hope fear of repeating that blunder isn't clouding his judgment here. Burke has his shortcomings (namely height, although he makes up for it with a 6-foot-5 reach) but he's a proven playmaker and a much, much better shooter than Michael Carter-Williams (SBN scouting report). (I'll abstain from piling on with talk of intangibles, but anyone who watched the NCAA Tournament can probably guess what I'd say.)

If the Pistons are truly worried about Burke's size, I suppose passing on him for MCW might be defensible. (Not advisable, mind you, but defensible.) But holy hell, would Dumars actually pass on Burke for Zeller (DBB scouting report)? To quote DBB'er Thom not Tom Gores over email:

Red-flagging Burke as too risky but loving Zeller despite his complete lack of positional fit or length sounds, well, exactly like the front office of the past couple years. I can't for the life of me understand what the plan would be if they actually took Zeller, but I can totally see Dumars pulling the trigger instead of making a similarly risky pick that actually takes fit and upside into account (*cough* Kentavious Caldwell-Pope *cough)

I just ... I don't even ... whatever.

This does sound like the most Joe Dumars move of all time. I guess time will tell. What do you think?