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Pistons Links: Pistons playoff chase and potential draft prospects in NCAA tourney

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Tired of hearing about the tournament yet?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-South Carolina vs Duke Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff chase updates

Detroit is back in the playoffs for the time being, sitting in eighth position. And, if they get their act together by winning six or seven more in a row, then the Hawks, losers of three in a row and sitting fifth in the conference (3.5 games in front games of Detroit), could be feeling some heat.

Speaking of heat...

THANKS

The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Miami Heat Sunday with 49 points from Damian Lillard. Also, on Saturday the Blazers helped out the Pistons’ cause with a win over the Hawks despite Ersan Ilyasova scoring 23 points on 11 shots starting in place for the injured Paul Millsap.

The Toronto Raptors continued their winning ways with a win over the Pacers Sunday. Seven Raptors scored in double figures. Team ball there.

The Golden State Warriors did what they do best and beat the Bucks on Saturday. Nothing surprising there. Still need to say thanks, though. On Friday in Los Angeles, however, Greg Monroe stuck up for his teammate Malcolm Brodgon and got in a pretty decent shot on troll-boy Nick Young. Nice one, Moose. Bucks got the win over the Lakers. Here’s the short version:

NO THANKS

The Chicago Bulls are a funny squad and now that Dwyane Wade is done for the season, you’d think they would finally and swiftly drop out of playoff contention. But, Saturday saw the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz, who, lest we forget, played Detroit on Friday evening. Bobby Portis scored a career-high 22. The Bulls won the season series over the Jazz, 2-0. Hopefully the Jazz can turn it around as the play the Pacers on Monday.

For first round playoff matchup purposes

Let’s just assume the Celtics will be the two seed and that Detroit will be the seven seed. Good. Then the Celtics certainly didn’t do themselves any favors on Sunday as they lost to the 76ers. Isaiah Thomas sat out the game with a bone bruise on his right knee that he suffered earlier in the week. It’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

The Celtics aren’t just giving All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas the weekend off because they are facing two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

...

Stevens said Thomas was injured early in the third quarter – he appeared to be injured taking a hard spill in which Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Town landed on him. Thomas did not make the trip with his teammates and Stevens said the move wasn’t precautionary.

As the Celtics play the Wizards Monday night, it’s ripe for the Wizards to cut into the Celtics’ 1.5 game lead if Thomas doesn’t play.

March Madness and NBA prospects

After a fairly boring first round of the NCAA tournament, the second round certainly didn’t disappoint. Hope your favorite team(s) or recent favorite team(s) is still in and breathing.

I will list some prospects who have impressed in this tournament. Some may be draft options for the Pistons and some may not be (2018 draft options probably). Beating this horse to death again, but if the Pistons weren’t so good at being mediocre then they would be in line for possibly a pretty darn good player even as late as the top 10 or 12. The 2017 draft is very deep. Instead, Detroit will just have to make due. Yet, let’s not forget that the NBA draft is a crap-shoot anyway, especially with so many teams foolishly drafting based solely on potential.

Sindarius Thornwell

The 6’5 senior shooting guard out of South Carolina had a big hand in ‘upsetting’ Duke on Sunday. You’ll see Thornwell’s name in a bunch of NBA mock drafts going in the late first all the way to the late second. I’m wondering if that’s a mistake — he might be just the right type of player to be a solid backup two guard right away. He shoots it, can create his own shot and has a reputation of being a bull-like defender. His senior season stat line is mostly terrific with per game averages of 22.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1 block. And he gets to the line a ton (shot 221 this season, even 33 in one game) and shot 39 percent from three-point land. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Sindarius backing up a Kentavious?

A few plays from Sindarius against Duke (No. 0 in dark):

Miles Bridges

Apparently it’s not a sure thing Miles goes pro, but the small forward really should. I doubt he will be on the draft board past pick 12 — he’s just so athletic and smooth, has good handles and can make just about any shot. He’s not afraid of contact at all.

Josh Jackson

The freshman is super gifted and athletic. Never met a shot he didn’t like. He could turn out to be the next Rudy Gay, or, more optimistically, could be a Kevin Durant type talent. Too bad the Pistons are fine with utter mediocrity. No chance to get this possible franchise changing players unless they start over and trade lots of pieces for a high pick in this draft. Here is a good article detailing the Jackson-Bridges matchup during their game on Sunday.

Dillon Brooks

The slick shooting 6’7 junior plays both forward positions at Oregon, so I’m not sure if he really fits for what Detroit most needs. Although some will say move on from Stanley and get another wing in Detroit that can actually be a weapon on offense. At any rate, if Oregon wins a few more games in the tournament and Dillon continues his solid play, don’t be surprised if he wins up drafted around the Pistons’ range.

Deng Adel

Very long and well built small forward prospect. He’s a sophomore and averaged 12.1 points this season and developed a more lethal three-point shot. He was excellent against Michigan on Sunday — he’ll be a name to know for 2018.

If you are in a watch a thunder dunk mood, take a look:

Possible NCAA tournament players on Pistons’ radar (or should be)

Bam Adebayo: Made big time plays for Kentucky in the tourney so far. Like power forward John Collins, Bam might be the best available when the Pistons are up.

TJ Leaf: Just kidding. Probably will be lethal stretch four in the league but Detroit has already invested in Henry Ellenson.

Luke Kennard: The heady and sweet shooting sophomore guard should be a legitimate option.

Dwayne Bacon: Doesn’t have the best stroke around, but is explosive and a play-maker. Might not be mid-first quality based on recent projections (see: crap-shoot). It’s very possible he returns for his junior season.

Josh Hart: Gritty senior who can score, shoot and defend. Ceiling may not be super high but could stick as a top eight rotation player for many years. He’s one of four players up for college basketball’s most outstanding player. Haven’t seen him listed anywhere higher than late-first round in the draft however.

Frank Mason III: The senior point guard should be prime for a tryout. He shot the three ball this season at 47% (76-161) and he’s exceptionally quick. I’m pretty sure he’ll get drafted somewhere in the second round, but so often top seniors get overlooked. Also a finalist for college basketball’s top player.

Bronson Koenig: The Wisconsin senior point guard should get a look for a camp tryout — very much doubt he gets drafted. He’s a playmaker with deep range and I think has the quickness to cut it in the NBA. #myclearBigTenbias

Others prospects in NCAA tournament

Forward Moritz Wagner was brilliant on offense in the Michigan victory over Louisville. Slowly but surely he’s becoming a player that could go top 15 in the 2018 draft. Not far behind (or is he in front?) is Michigan teammate and power forward D. J. Wilson. Both have developed quite quickly for Michigan this season. The ability of both to handle the ball and shoot it from deep are making pro scouts salivate. Both have intriguing post games as well, just ask Louisville. Okay, I admit it, this part was just an excuse to rep for the Wolverines’ tourney run — go BLUE!

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What other players have you been impressed by in the NCAA tournament? Any that you are down on? Let us know.