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NBA draft Pistons prospect breakdown: Sam Dekker

The versatile Badger isn't totally out of the running with the Pistons at No. 8.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Let me make myself clear.  Personally, I would be furious if we were to draft Sam Dekker at #8, because it would almost definitely mean passing on at least one of Stanley Johnson (most likely), Mario Hezonja or Justise Winslow.  However, if the Pistons were to trade back in the draft, especially if a market for Detroit's pick develops should Emmanuel Mudiay fall to #8, then I wouldn't be totally against it at, say, #16 or so.

Physical Stats

Dekker is one of the bigger small forwards in the draft, and is taller barefoot than Stanley Johnson and Justise Winslow are in shoes, measuring in at 6'7.75", and standing a nice 6'9" in shoes.  He also sports a respectable 6'11.5" wingspan, so he has the capacity to be a space eater on the defensive end and make it hard for players to get around his big frame.  He also has decent size at 219 pounds, but the concerns are there over his athletic ability.  While he's by no means a bad athlete, his maximum vertical leap measured at the combine was only 34.5 inches, with a no step vert of 25.5 inches, both average marks for his draft class.  In fact, his no step vertical was only higher than Bobby Portis, Terran Petteway, Mouhammadou Jaiteh, Quinn Cook, Michael Frazier and Dakari Johnson (of those measured).

Style of Play

Dekker was a consistent offensive player during his time at Wisconsin, averaging over 16 points per 40 minutes for each of his three seasons at the school.  His career per game averages of 12.1 points and 5 rebounds per game are certainly nice, especially considering he was playing on a fairly stacked team this year, with other offensive hubs like fellow draftee Frank Kaminsky and stenographer's worst nightmare Nigel Hayes.

The concerning thing about Dekker is his shooting ability.  For his college career, he only shot the longball at a 35% clip, and after hitting 39% as a freshman, his percentage the following two seasons was always under 34%.  Plus, its not like his freshman season was a small sample size either, he actually attempted 128 threes his first year, and one extra in his sophomore year, eventually rising to 151 in his junior year.  This raises questions as to his viability as a consistent three-point shooter, whether his freshman year was a fluke or defenses simply keyed on to him more to stop his shot.  He was also a so-so free throw shooter, with a career 69.5% mark from the line bolstered by his career best 70.8% rate in his junior year.

The advanced stats are relatively kind to Dekker as well.  His usage rate was always consistently around the 23% mark for his entire college career, showing he can be a number 1 or 2 option in the offense.  Dekker is, however, primarily known as an offensive player, as shown by the offensive win shares he amassed while in Madison.  Over his three year career, he totaled 10.6 offensive win shares, with 5.1 of those coming this past season.  For comparison, D'Angelo Russell, considered one of the best, if not the best, offensive players in this draft, had 4.4 OWS his only season in Ohio State.  Defensively, he's an average player.  He only totaled 1.9 defensive win shares this past season, far less than his offensive production.  Per 100 possessions, he had a defensive rating of 99.8, with an offensive rating of 128.6, although these numbers could be a product of the system ran in Wisconsin.

Dekker, coming from a conservative, low-turnover style in Wisconsin, is very efficient with the ball, as he only averaged 1 turnover per game for his college career, with a turnover percentage of 8.9% for his career.  It's been said that his numbers are a product of the system, but for the system to work you need guys who can carry out the instructions, so in that sense, I think his turnover numbers are no fluke.


I personally don't see much of a fit for Sam Dekker here in Detroit due to his iffy jumpshot and average defense.  While he certainly brings a lot of size, he certainly isn't the same athlete as someone like Justise Winslow, Mario Hezonja, Kelly Oubre or even Stanley Johnson.  All of those guys, with the exception of Johnson, are exceptionally quick and agile, and Johnson makes his living with his power.  Unfortunately, Dekker doesn't really have elite speed or power, and may struggle defensively at the next level.  Plus, he's projected by Draft Express at #20, so picking him at #8 (as Chad Ford foolishly suggested) would be a monumental reach.