With the end of the NBA Finals, we're a week away from the 2015 NBA Draft. Draft frenzy is already with us here at Detroit Bad Boys, as evidenced by the community-led mock draft - which is just off the chains.
Stan Van Gundy has given some hints to the direction the Pistons may look with their 8 pick in the first round. He's said they are targeting about six players, and also essentially ruled out drafting a center with Andre Drummond already set as the team's franchise player.
Jason explored Stan Van Gundy's past usage of rookies to get some insight into his perspective for this year's draft. His conclusion was that the choice for the 8 pick will likely have a chance to contribute this year, but don't expect the player to be a starter. This is consistent with Van Gundy's comments as well.
"Now, we don't necessarily think that whoever we take at eight will be able to start for us right away, but we certainly would hope that person will be positioned to be a starter in Year 3 or maybe even Year 2."
With the Pistons' surprise trade for Ersan Ilyasova, they look to be relatively strong at point guard, shooting guard, power forward, and center - but very weak at small forward. If Van Gundy doesn't feel confident in his ability to sign unrestricted free agent Greg Monroe, power forward may still be an option for the choice, but small forward is likely the favorite.
So who are the possibilities for the six players Van Gundy may be targeting? Well, three are certain.
Justise Winslow, SF, Duke, 19 years old: Winslow finished his freshman year at Duke averaging 14.6 points per game, 8.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.1 blocks over his final 18 games. He shot 54 percent from the field and 53 percent from three point range over this stretch. While he was at it, he separated himself from the competition as the premier small forward in the draft. Since then though, he's had some skepticism about his size as he measured just 6'4.5 without shoes. Don't take this too seriously though. Basketball players don't usually play barefoot, and Winslow's 6'6.5 height with shoes, 6'10 wingspan, and 220 pound frame is plenty good enough. His top 7 status doesn't look to certain these days, which may have prompted him to work out with the Pistons earlier this week.
Stanley Johnson, SF, Arizona, 19 years old: For much of the season, Johnson was rated as the top small forward in the draft thanks to his combination of size, defensive ability, and serving as the leading scorer for his 34-4 Arizona Wildcats. He was considered a poor shooter coming into college, but answered doubters by shooting a very respectful 37 percent from three point range. Winslow and Johnson have an awful lot in common as prospects with their age and two-way talent. Johnson's critics have pointed to his poor finishing in college (40 percent in the paint) and shooting form as evidence that he'll struggle to score at the next level - and he likely will his first couple years. But his defensive ability should make him ready to contribute early in his career. For what it's worth, Johnson was the most popular pick in the DBB offseason plan project earlier this month.
Mario Hezonja, SF, Croatia, 20 years old: If you spend much time in the DBB comments, you've probably seen that I'm not a fan of Hezonja. In his time playing in ACB and EuroLeague last season, he combined to average just 15 points and 5 rebounds per game per 40 minutes. For a player who's most attractive attributes are his potential as a scorer and his athleticism, that's not much production. But it's understandable why he's appealing to some Pistons fans. He has a great looking jump shot, perhaps the greatest area of need for the Pistons on the wing, and accumulated some tantalizing highlights in his limited playing time.
After these three, it gets dicier - particularly depending on whether Van Gundy is targeting a small forward, or is more open to adding another power forward to the roster.
Kristaps Porzingis, PF, Latvia, 19 years old: The most divisive prospect in the draft. Unlike Hezonja, Porzingis was productive in his time with the ACB and EuroLeague last season despite receiving a similar amount of minutes. He also has the nice jump shot, size, and athleticism, which is certainly attractive to open up the floor for Reggie Jackson and Drummond. But at the same time, he's terrifying for his Paris Hilton-esque frame and below average rebounding numbers. Mock drafts haven't quite been able to figure out if Porzingis is a late lottery pick or a top 3 prospect - currently leaning toward the latter. He'd be a bit of a project, but with the Pistons looking fairly solid at power forward next year, they could afford to take some time developing Porzingis.
Frank Kaminsky, PF/C, Wisconsin, 22 years old: Ilyasova's acquisition makes Kaminsky look less likely, as the NCAA Player of the Year should be able to contribute right out of the gates. But he's one of the best pick-and-pop players in college basketball, which would definitely make him attractive to the Pistons. He's been criticized for his mobility and athleticism, but that's likely more due to his appearance than his performance. But it does remain to be seen if he's able to handle power forward at the next level or if he is best as a center.
Kelly Oubre, SF, Kansas, 19; Sam Dekker, SF, Wisconsin, 21: If the Pistons have narrowed their focus to small forward, these two will be options. It's unlikely that they'd be rated ahead of the trio of Johnson, Winslow, or Hezonja, but if they are unexpectedly off the board or the Pistons decide to move down, they could be options. Each has their virtues but also some severe warts. For Oubre, he has a great looking jumper and is a surprisingly excellent defender. But he's shaky off the dribble, seemingly restricted to just his left hand. Dekker is considered the jack of all trades, master of none. And he definitely passes the eye test. But there's little to point to from his college career that he was even average at. Being below average across the board means you're a below average.
Myles Turner, C, Texas, 19; Bobby Portis, PF, Arkansas, 20; Justin Anderson, SF, Virginia, 21: Your three darkhorses for a spot on Stan Van Gundy's radar. Like Dekker and Oubre, each of these three have their attractive aspects, but have an uphill battle for finding their way into a Pistons' uniform. Turner is young, has great size, and a nice jumper, but is likely more of a center than a power forward - a position Van Gundy all but ruled out. Portis put up some nice numbers at Arkansas and plays with great intensity, but is currently considered more of a mid-first round prospect. Anderson is also expected to go later in the first round, but with his defensive ability and 45 percent three point shooting, he makes a strong case that he should be considered on par with Dekker and Oubre.
The top of the draft is very much an unknown at this point. Any of these prospects may be on the board when the Pistons pick, or they could be long gone. A week out, who do you have your eye on?