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2017 Pistons Summer League: Mike Tobey more than just a tall summer body

The big man has skills for days.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I took a look at a Pistons’ potential third-string point guard option in Pierre Jackson. Today I will look at a slightly taller individual in 7-foot-ish Mike Tobey and talk a bit about his chances to stick with Detroit as a third-strong center (assuming Boban Marjanovic and Andre Drummond are the other two centers next season).

If Pierre Jackson and Mike Tobey are two names completely new to you, then familiarize yourself with Detroit’s summer league roster that is only a day away from suiting up in the Orlando summer league. 2017 draft pick Luke Kennard is obviously ready to play, as is last year’s first-round pick Henry Ellenson and second-round pick Michael Gbinije. Another probably familiar name is point guard Lorenzo Brown, who seems very intent on making the Pistons roster one of these seasons. We admire the determination.

Hollis Thompson is also a name that should seem familiar, as he played four seasons (256 games) with the Philadelphia 76ers before being waived last season. He then found his way on the New Orleans Pelicans and played nine games with them, but his shooting percentages were career lows. Then you have forward-center Eric Moreland, who has played a total of 11 games for the Sacramento Kings in two separate seasons. Finally, yes finally (thanks for sticking with me), we’ve come to 22-year-old Mike Tobey, NBA experience: two games (with the Charlotte Hornets last season). One of those games was against our Pistons — Mike didn’t score or collect a rebound during his 14 minutes of playing time. Bonus points for you if you really knew that before just now.

Actually I’m not here writing to make fun of Mike Tobey, in fact; he certainly has a decent chance of impressing the Pistons brass and receiving an invite to training camp to no doubt compete for a third-string center spot that will likely exist on the roster.


Below are Tobey’s first career NBA points (and only points so far). As it’s Charlotte, Kemba Walker unloading from downtown with 17 seconds left on the shot clock is just par for the course. Known as a good offensive rebounder in college and in the D-League, Tobey is rewarded for hitting the glass hard.

The other select highlights I have for you are from Tobey’s 2016-17 season in the D-League (now the G League) because, as I mentioned, Tobey is quite new to this NBA thing.

These three clips show Tobey’s (number 10) soft shooting touch and perhaps his oozing confidence as well. He’s not too slow on his feet either.

Here Tobey’s range clearly extends out to the three-point land and looks pretty comfortable and natural, however, proceed with caution: in D-League play Tobey shot 11-56 from three-point range (in practice I’m sure he shoots close to 70 percent...). So he’s definitely not bashful to try, though I don’t think SVG and company are looking for him to pop them from out there. Hope Tobey is clear on that.

Tobey doesn’t shy away from making smaller players look rather foolish on their attempts near the rim (but he needs to learn to keep his swats in-bounds like Ish does). Tobey averaged a decent 1.3 blocks per game in 35 D-League games last season (26 minutes per).

Not sure how many times in the future Tobey will find a 6’7 guy guarding him in the post, but his hook seems friendly enough. I guess Tobey is of the opinion that if you got it, then pop it.


In all, Tobey has made solid progress only about a year removed from his senior season at Virginia, where he averaged just 7.3 points per game (62 percent shooting) and 4.4 rebounds in nearly 16 minutes per game. Those numbers, very similar to his career numbers for all four years at Virginia, don’t exactly point to a future career in the NBA as a player. But, what’s that saying bandied about in basketball circles? “Numbers don’t make the man, or something.” Pretty much.

There’s Mike Tobey for you. The upside seems to be there and from what I’ve read he’s one of those guys who really knows how to play the game and will contribute in a variety of ways. The Pistons scouts just may have found a good center prospect in Tobey, and let’s just hope that if he performs well in summer league the Pistons won’t let him get away.

Tobey, or not to be, that is the Pistons’ third-string center question.