It is very rare that a fan base will ever be completely happy with its team's draft pick. Even when their team has the number one overall pick, fans can be unhappy. Think of when Anthony Bennett was selected first overall, and that is not even the worst example. But when your team is picking 18th, expect the reactions to vary wildly.
When the Pistons were on the clock, some fan favorites were already off the board. Thon Maker went 10th(!) to the Milwaukee Bucks. Denzel Valentine went 14th to the Chicago Bulls. And Wade Baldwin went one pick prior to the Pistons, heading to the Memphis Grizzlies. But because of other teams "reaching," there were still some players on the board that were already expected to be gone.
By most mock drafts, Deyonta Davis was supposed to be picked in the lottery. The furthest he was projected to fall was 21st, and that was by SB Nation. Skal Labissiere was projected by most mock drafts to be drafted between 11 and 13. SB Nation had him falling to the Pistons. What these two players have in common with Henry Ellenson, whom the Pistons did pick at 18, is that they are one-and-done power forwards. So why Ellenson over Davis and Labissiere?
Fit with Coach Van Gundy's system
If you look at advanced stats, Ellenson has the worst true shooting percentage of the three. And that is because he only shot 28.8-percent from three. But here's the thing, he can shoot the three. Davis, who is a month older than Ellenson, didn't attempt any threes. And though Labissiere did, he only attempted two and missed them both.
Some may point to his 49.5-percent shooting from two-point range as a red flag, but it's because he shoots from all over the floor.
Pistons taking Henry Ellenson at No. 18. Versatile big man: can hit corner threes, mid-range jumpers. pic.twitter.com/bsrLmtiEef— Shot Analytics (@ShotAnalytics) June 24, 2016
Unfortunately, I am unable to find similar shot charts for Davis and Labissiere. What does this chart show us? Right now, Van Gundy should limit him to corner threes and a post game. And though 60-percent is not great at the rim, especially for someone at 7-feet tall, it's not bad either.
Someone posed a good question on Twitter: Is Ellenson Van Gundy's Ryan Anderson? He's also drawn comparisons to Donatas Motiejunas, whom the Pistons tried to acquire with the 18th pick earlier this year (that trade was later rescinded). Van Gundy wanted a big who was versatile and had the ability to shoot, and he got it. He thought he'd be gone, but he was available and the coach got who he and his staff wanted.
The draft is often more about potential than it is about how those players can help right now. That is more true as you get further into the draft. Davis and Labissiere have a lot of potential, but they played limited minutes. Labissiere is the oldest of the three, but he and Davis both played fewer than 20 minutes per game. Ellenson played more than 33 minutes per game.
Now, none of the three would likely be getting anything north of 20 minutes per game in their rookie season. But I think it's important to keep in mind when looking at advanced stats.
Labissiere's per-40 numbers would have him at 16.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, but 4.2 blocks per-40. Davis's per-40 numbers would have him at 16.1 points, 11.8 rebounds, but 3.9 blocks per-40. Ellenson's per-40 numbers would have him at 20.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, but only 1.8 blocks. Not all per-40 numbers translate when players play more minutes, but with Ellenson playing 33 already, his are more likely to project accurately. Are the lack of blocks a concern? Of course. Are they a major concern? No.
In the end, the Pistons have a potentially good player on their hands or one who could never translate to the NBA. This is the same with all draft picks. SVG trusted his scouting team and picked who they believed to be the Best Player Available when it was their turn to pick. Whether they should have gone through with the trade with Sacramento Kings for the #13 pick and picked Valentine, Baldwin or someone else, we don't know what the Kings wanted (probably thought we still had Josh Smith). Whether there were other offers, we don't know.
But what we do know is that the Pistons selected a player that most sports journalists are saying are a great fit for the Pistons (yes, even Chad Ford says it) and was supposed to be long gone before the Pistons picked. Trust in SVG, trust in Bower, trust the process.