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Can Jamorko Pickett Be More Than A Training Camp Body?

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NBA: Summer League-New York Knicks at Detroit Pistons Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

With the recent news that Jamorko Pickett got an Exhibit 10 contract from the Detroit Pistons, it is a good time to take a deep dive into his game and examine why the team wants to invest in him and try to bring him to the Cruise for this upcoming G-League season. So far, he is the only undrafted player from the Summer League roster to receive an offer, which indicates the Pistons have real interest in developing him.

Pickett was a four-year starter coming out of a Georgetown program where he played under NBA Legend Patrick Ewing. Pickett was listed as 6-foot-8 and 198 pounds on the Summer League roster. He put up the following per game stats this past season at Georgetown:

  • 12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks
  • 39.3% from two-point distance, 37.3% from three-point range, 82.7% from the Free Throw line
  • 51.0% True Shooting Percentage, 12.0% Assist Percentage, 17.3% Turnover Rate, 20.4% Usage

What He Brings to the Pistons

The biggest thing Pickett brings to this Detroit squad is his ability to hit the three. Not only was he able to drop 50% of his three-pointers this Summer League , but he was a steady shooter all four years at Georgetown posting a career 36.5% from downtown. He also posted a three-point attempt rate of 47.1% for his entire Georgetown career so this is a main staple of his shot arsenal. Pickett took AT LEAST 101 or more three-point attempts all four years.

The next key are his physical measurements. It was clear to anyone that watched summer league that when Pickett was dropped into the tall lineup with Killian, Cade, Saddiq, and Garzilla he was NOT the smallest guy in the lineup, and it made it very difficult for smaller teams to match up. Pickett also utilizes his size and length when getting his shot off. He does not need to get much hop as his release point is WAY up and it takes a much taller player or incredible leaper to really effect his shot.

So let me be clear before I make this next point, I AM NOT COMPARING HIM TO DUNCAN ROBINSON AS A PLAYER, but part of why Duncan Robinson is such a lethal shooter is his height, length, and release point in addition to his off-the-ball movement skills. While Pickett’s off-the-ball skills are not currently at the level of Robinson, being a tall and lanky player with a high release point that is a mismatch problem means Pickett can cause problems for opposing defenses.

I also think Pickett has incredibly consistent shooting mechanics. His foot placement and release look the same every time I see him shoot the ball—even on the few times he shot off the dribble. For me, this is part of being a good shooter as you have to be able to recreate your mechanics as much as possible under a variety of situations and Pickett seems to have really worked on that. If I had to guess I would bet Coach Ewing and his staff had a lot to do with in order to keep Pickett as a consistent outside threat for guys like James Akinjo, Mac McClung, and (this past season) Dante Harris to operate. For the Pistons, he can continue to do this for Cade, Killian, Saben Lee, or even Hamidou Diallo, and Josh Jackson.

Causes for Concern

If you look at Pickett’s two-point shooting percentages any of his four years, you will be incredibly disappointed as he DID NOT shoot above 41.6% any of those four years. Three of those four years he did not even crack 40%. And when you look at his overall percentages, he NEVER shot 40% or better in any of his four years at Georgetown. This is a major red flag as it is clear he never developed any consistent skills inside the three-point line.

For the Cade-led Pistons, this is less of a concern as they are looking for shooters to surround Cade—and to a lesser extent Killian. Still, you would be hard press to find a rotational player that is this inefficient inside the arc while still being a good three-point shooter. In today’s analytics driven NBA where even the superstars are docked for being inefficient you cannot be as ineffective in any one shot area as Pickett is on his twos.

Jamorko Pickett’s 2020-21 Shot Chart via the ‘21 NBA Draft shiny app 3.0 by Dom Samangy
https://dsamangy.shinyapps.io/NBA_NCAA_Similarity_Comps/

His defense is also uncertain. Pickett played a power forward-type role by default last year at Georgetown since he was one of the tallest players on the team and can actually rebound, but this didn’t exactly play to his strengths on either side of the ball. His two-point percentage bears out how much he should not have been in this role on offense, and on defense it put him in this developmental no-man’s land.

Too skinny to match up with bulky 4s and 5s, but not quite laterally quick enough to handle very athletic guards, placing him at the 4 where he had to do both of those things a lot did him few favors. If he was the 6-foot-9 inches tall and 206 pounds Georgetown listed him at, I would be less inclined to say this is a major concern as there are guys like Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington around this size that play in the front court just fine. Now, however, with his summer league measurements being shorter and lighter, I think the Cruise’s coaching staff’s No. 1 priority now is figuring out what his spot is on defense.

My inclination is to keep him on the wing where his size and shooting cause mismatches and there are fewer guys at the shooting guard spot that would immediately expose Pickett on defense unlike if he were a skinny forward. I say all this to say even though he is wing-sized, right now he is only a one-position defender for all the reasons I listed.

Just look at the following game film against Creighton from this past season and you’ll see all these concerns as Pickett is 4-of-6 from three in the game, but 1-of-4 from two and struggles with the physicality of Creighton’s Christian Bishop.

NBA Comp and Chance of Making it in the Association

A tall three-point shooter who brings little else to the table but complements your star players perfectly to make the lineups work smoothly, Jamorko Pickett reminds me most of former L.A. Laker Sasha Vujačić. Vujačić only had two seasons in his 10-year career where he was able to shoot above 44% from two-point range, but he also only had three seasons where he shot under 34.3% from downtown. This evened out to career percentages of 41.5% from two and 36.7% from three.

If Pickett develops, I could see him in this kind of a role. Vujačić also only started 58 out of the 581 games he played, but many of us remember how much Kobe loved playing with the guy and that he made a lot of impact plays for the two title teams he was part of in L.A. Similarly, I don’t see Pickett as a for real NBA starter but with his teammates in summer league already remarking on his play he displays that easy game and locked in mentality to earn the trust of his squad.

If I were a betting man, I would say his chances of making an NBA roster are much higher than most Exhibit 10 guys because of his size and the fact he possesses steady shooting abilities which are at a premium in today’s NBA. Probably something like 60% of making a roster if his three-point shooting holds up. While that might seem high to some, take a look at the case of guys like Naji Marshall or Garrison Matthews who made it on to a roster because they either became a better three-point shooter or showed their college percentage could hold up.

Let us know what you think of Pickett in the comment and whether or not you would want him in the Pistons’ future plans!