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2016 Detroit Pistons Preview: Darrun Hilliard navigating crowded depth chart

Amidst a fierce competition for minutes, can Darrun claim the backup SG role?

Art by Christopher Daniels

I figured that after Nebraska's Terran Petteway was the only prospect to earn a second workout with the team prior to last year's draft, he'd be the Pistons' pick in the second round. Well I guess there is a reason I'm not an NBA general manager.

Like many, I scratched my head when I heard Darrun Hilliard's name being called out. Surely the Pistons could have acquired the Villanova product after the draft, after all, he'd been projected to go undrafted in almost every mock. However, it was easy to see how the 6-6 guard fit the bill.

With his rookie year under his belt, I can now easily see why Jeff Bower and Stan Van Gundy brought Darrun in.

Calm. Composed. Consistent. Versatile.

Hilliard has not only made a strong case for additional minutes, but also to be Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's primary backup.

Projected Role

The depth chart at shooting guard is in all forms of disarray. Pope will more than likely earn the starting nod, but who will back him up?

Stanley Johnson spent some time at the 2 last season but could challenge Marcus Morris for the starting small forward job. Reggie Bullock found himself late last season, becoming the lethal three-point threat the Pistons had envisioned. New acquisition Michael Gbinije could be a wild card draw. However they all lack what Darrun displayed throughout the course of his rookie year: consistency.

Obviously taking notes out of Joel Anthony's lessons on professionalism, the Pennsylvania-native learnt early to always stay ready to contribute off the bench. It paid off. In 38 appearances (including 2 starts), the four-year collegiate player averaged 4.0 points, 1.2 rebounds, 0.7 assists and 0.2 steals in 10 minutes of playing time. What sticks out though, are his shooting numbers.

Darrun knocked down 38% of his triple tries and 40% overall last year, this, paired with his eye-popping numbers in the D-League (25.7 PPG / 3.7 RPG / 2.7 APG / 2.3 SPG, shooting .490/.440/.800) and solid college career suggest that he could easily build on what was an already promising first year in the Association.

Stan Van Gundy has often talked about how hard Hillard works in practice, his effort often times being rewarded, and considering Coach has noticed that he has improved his game over the summer, Darrun may already have the inside track on anyone trying to assert themselves as the team's backup shooting guard.

Projected Production

54 games - 16 MPG / 6.8 PPG / 2.1 RPG / 1.2 APG / 0.6 SPG - 0.431/0.377/0.756