Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson earn Team USA invites
The Pistons' lethal swingman duo of Caldwell-Pope and Johnson will be part of the USA Select Team according to Vince Ellis over at the Detroit Free Press. Both players will go up against Team USA in a series of scrimmages and practice in an effort to get the team ready for the 2016 Rio Olympics but also so coaching staff can start scouting some of the up and coming talent in the NBA. Whilst the team has yet to be named, it is understood that both players will be joined by the likes of Pacers center Myles Turner, Portland's C.J. McCollum and Suns shooting guard Devin Booker. Pope and Johnson will be going up against fellow teammate Andre Drummond, who is part of Team USA's player pool heading into the Olympics.
This isn't the first time rookie Stanley Johnson will be involved with the national team, having been named the FIBA Americas U-18 Most Valuable Player during the 2014 Championship. Johnson came off a solid rookie year where he averaged 8.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game as the team's sixth man. The Arizona product put up a similar stat line during the playoffs, but upped his shooting considerably, hitting 52% from the field and 60% from deep.
This will be KCP's first USA nod of his career, with the third-year player's hard work and basketball ability finally being rewarded. Pope once again led the team in minutes this year, and averaged 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals through 76 games. Like his counterpart, Kentavious' shooting improved in the postseason, shooting 44% from downtown and the field.
The Olympics kick off in August, so keep an eye on this space as we'll keep you updated about any more news about Team USA's newest members.
Linking the floor to the front office becoming a trend around the NBA
Stan Van Gundy seems to have started a new trend around the NBA after managing to secure his position as both the team's director of basketball operations and head coach. Pistons.com's Keith Langlois believes that the coach's ability to control personnel decisions and help build the team he wants has led to many other coaches trying to gain the same type of control over their respective organizations. Langlois points to Doc Rivers' promotion in LA, and Mike Budenholzer's newly acquired front office seat in Atlanta as indications that Van Gundy has opened the door for more coaches to be able to have an input on who they want on the roster.
"Yeah, I think that's fair to say. Actually, yeah," he said after a thoughtful pause. "I don't know about pressure, but you certainly feel - I don't want to say the word obligation, either. I don't know what the word would be. But you do feel a responsibility to do well and to show that coaches can do these things."
So far Stan Van Gundy the executive has pulled off some masterful acquisitions along with general manager Jeff Bower and his ability to do so hasn't gone unnoticed, with SVG coming in eighth overall in Executive of the Year voting this season. Under his watch the Pistons have made their first post-season appearance since 2009, and showed signs of life as they started playing an exciting brand of basketball all season long. Van Gundy has definitely made a case for coaches to have more control in operational decisions, and his prowess on both sides of the job could potentially earn him considerations for Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year in the future as he leads the team to new heights.
Pistons linked to several draft prospects
Detroit has been incredibly busy scouting prospects with several players scheduled to work out in front of Stan Van Gundy & Co. over the upcoming weeks. Every week I will break down who exactly the Pistons have been linked to:
- Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell kicked off the workout season earlier this week, with the projected second-round pick expected to try out for the Pistons on May 31 according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman. Packey has already taken a look at Ferrell, who averaged 17.3 points, 5.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game this year.
- A.J. English is scheduled to meet the Pistons as well as a host of other teams according to The Journal News' Josh Thompson. The 6-foot-4 guard is currently projected to go undrafted after putting up 22.6 points, 6.2 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals for Iona last season.
- Kentucky's Tyler Ulis, Notre Dame's Demtrius Jackson, Florida State's Malik Beasley and Vanderbilt's Wade Baldwin all earned interviews with the Pistons during the Draft Combine. All are projected to be first round picks. Sean Corp has already broken down how each of those players could help Motown's backcourt issues.
- 19-year old power forward Caleb Swanigan has also met with team representatives according to Hoops Insiders' Adam Zagoria. The Purdue bigman is ranked 71st overall by Draft Express and averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his freshman year.
- Pistons.com's Keith Langlois has reported that the team has also interviewed Michigan's Caris Levert and UNLV's Stephen Zimmerman. Levert averaged 16.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists for the Wolverines last season, whilst Zimmerman put up 10.5 points and 8.7 rebounds in his only season at UNLV. Draft Express ranks both players as high to mid second round picks.
- Highschool phenom Thon Maker has also been interviewed by the Pistons according to the Detroit Free Press' Vince Ellis. Currently expected to be a high second-round pick, Maker averaged 22.3 points, 13.1 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in two years at Carlisle High School.
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