As of right now, three draft prospects are projected to be selected in the range that the Pistons pick - Wade Baldwin, Demetrius Jackson, and Tyler Ulis. As previously covered by DBB, the Pistons have been in touch with each and are vetting them closely. The three are each very different players, each coming with their own distinct pros and cons.
I've already written about Ulis and Jackson. The DBB voters prefer Jackson. Here are my thoughts on Baldwin:
Max vertical: 38''
When the Pistons drafted Spencer Dinwiddie, the go-to phrase was first round talent. That the Pistons only nabbed him in the second round because of his ACL injury. Without that injury, wouldn't Dinwiddie have looked an awful lot like Baldwin as a prospect?
Baldwin: 14 points per game, 57% true shooting percentage, 5 assists, 4 rebounds
Dinwiddie's sophomore numbers: 15 points per game, 59% true shooting percentage, 4 assists, 3 rebounds
The appeal for both as prospects is clear. Both players offer great size with multi-position potential and efficient college numbers. They're intelligent, unselfish players with a positive mental approach. But still, their productivity doesn't jump off the page. And at the end of the day, if the productivity isn't there...
DraftExpress can break down Baldwin's game much better than I ever could, and they offer a few key takeaways for Baldwin's potential fit as a Piston.
Baldwin excelled in college off the catch-and-shoot, which has been something that Stan Van Gundy has emphasized on his personnel moves. Nearly every player Van Gundy has brought in has been a plus catch-and-shoot player, and Baldwin shot 42 percent in those situations with most being on three point attempts.
But Baldwin struggles to create his own buckets. He's not great as a finisher, doesn't have a floater, not much on shooting off the dribble. So in the NBA, will he actually be able to make his presence felt as a scorer? The Pistons rely so heavily on the pick-and-roll, both with Andre Drummond and Aron Baynes, can a point guard who can't shoot off the bounce or attack the rim really be very successful?
Steve Blake is a good example of how a player without that ability to create for himself but capable on the catch-and-shoot might look in the Pistons offense. It isn't the most encouraging example.
But part of the appeal for Baldwin comes from his defensive potential with his solid size and wingspan. With players like George Hill, Corey Joseph, and Avery Bradley, there certainly is a track record of players with Baldwin's profile having success in the NBA.
Baldwin's draft stock has fluctuated, but he's generally been figured as the second best point guard prospect in the draft behind Kris Dunn of Providence. Baldwin has been on the fringe of the lottery, so he might not even be available to the Pistons at the 18 pick unless if one of his point guard peers impress a team enough to jump in front of him.
If he does fall to the Pistons though, he's probably not the immediate answer to their backup point guard woes. It's only natural to expect a rookie point guard to need a cultivation period. But it's also not difficult to see Baldwin as a strong potential fit, securing the backup minutes for both point and shooting guard spots.