Now that the Detroit Pistons have moved up from No. 46 to pick No. 36 in tonight’s NBA Draft, I am sure many of you are not giving it a moment’s thought. A second-round pick is a second-round pick, after all. But, this is a bigger deal than many realize. For one, the success rate of guys drafted below pick No. 45 is incredibly low. Isaiah Thomas and Manu Ginóbili are two of the few over the last 20 or 30 years that were drafted late in the second round that went on to have success in the NBA.
The success rate for picks 31-45 is MUCH higher. How much higher? Since the 2012 NBA Draft, guys drafted in this range include Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, Jerami Grant, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Montrezl Harrell, Richaun Holmes, Josh Richardson, Ivica Zubac, Thomas Bryant, Dillon Brooks, Jalen Brunson, Devonte’ Graham, Mitchell Robinson, Gary Trent Jr., Bruce Brown, Hamidou Diallo, Nic Claxton, Daniel Gafford, Herb Jones, and Ayo Dosunmu. Oh and two-time MVP Nikola Jokić went 41st too, so if you weren’t excited before about the team moving up to 36 then I hope that changes now.
While my second-round series was pondering who the team would be able to find at the end of the second round, now we get to shift our attention to guys that might have fallen out of the first round AND guys that profile similar to former 36th overall pick Malcolm Brogdon as guys that have clear skills to contribute from day one. Herb Jones went one spot before at 35 so we’ll throw him in here too since he also was overlooked for the same “age” concerns and perceived lack of upside as Brogdon.
Jaden Hardy is someone I would be ecstatic if the team were able to select him at 36. This is a guy that was a consensus top-10 pick going into the year with many draft experts predicting he would be a top-five pick when all was said and done. Unfortunately, he had an inefficient year playing for G League Ignite with shooting splits of 40.2/26.9/88.2 and some downright terrible defensive tape. He’s also listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds so he does not have the size upside some teams want.
As I stated in my Final Big Board, however, Hardy was in one of the worst team situations this past season. There was exactly ONE teammate of his on the G League Ignite that played at least 10 games and shot over 34.0% from three. Both Dyson Daniels and Marjon Beauchamp shot under 26% from three so he was not getting help from his fellow draft prospects in that regard.
Hardy also had to adjust to Scoot Henderson’s arrival in the fifth game of the season. Oh, and Scoot shot an absolutely terrible 17.4% to boot. And, the final struggle being that Ignite only had two big men in Jessie Govan and Michael Foster Jr. who were able to play 10 games or more. In the midst of all this, Hardy was still asked to be the primary shot creator. Anybody would struggle in this kind of environment. And yes, I am aware the defense is bad, but this is the G League where defense is optional and Hardy’s bread and butter is as a bucket getter.
Lost in this is the fact that Hardy had both one of the best handles in this class and has the ability to get his jumpshot off from anywhere on the court. Of course, this also contributed to Hardy’s inefficient percentages, but he still maintained his confidence through all the struggles and understood that he had to get buckets for his team to stay afloat. And he started to turn a corner down the stretch as he scored 20 or more points in eight of the Ignite’s final 11 games of the season and shooting 32/93 on three-pointers which was 34.4%.
I think with actual NBA spacing and big men, Hardy could be an impactful microwave scorer with playmaking ability to boot.
If you stay quiet and listen close enough, you can hear Chaz Malibu cackling and nodding in gleeful excitement at the thought of the mega-athletic forward falling to 36. Kendall Brown has drawn comparisons to Shawn Marion and Aaron Gordon athletically but is way behind where both guys were in terms of basketball skills going into their respective draft classes.
What Brown CAN do is finish at the rim, pass, and play consistently impactful defense. He dished out 63 assists for the year, which was third on a veteran-laden Baylor team. He also was the actual embodiment of the NBA Jam “He’s On Fire” character as Brown shot 81.5% on 108 attempts at the rim. And lastly, Brown used his 6-foot-7.5 and 201.2 pounds with a 6-foot-11 wingspan to switch on to just about anyone with the strength and length to handle forwards and the quickness and agility to stay glued to guards. Brown is one of the easiest projections to make for guarding ones through fours in the NBA.
What Brown CAN’T DO is shoot and handle the rock efficiently. Hitting more than one-third of his threes seems okay, but this was on just 41 total attempts all season which translates to 1.2 attempts per game. Brown’s main issue with shooting is that he does not want to take them at times. He will have to work on having a corner three at the very least in the NBA if he does not want to be an offensive liability in the NBA. His handle is also very loose and will require him to work on as he had a high turnover rate in pick-and-roll at 42.6% and in isolations at 33.3%.
For those Tari Eason fans out there (like me), Brown offers the same type of size and tools, but with much less polish. Thankfully, the Pistons would be in no rush to actualize Brown immediately and he could follow a similar path to fellow athlete with shooting struggles Isaac Okoro in the meantime to take full advantage of his defense and finishing ability.
Macomb, Michigan’s own, Ryan Rollins is just 19 years old despite playing two years for the Rockets just south down I-75 to Toledo. A great mix of skills and upside, Rollins is the type of potential second-rounder you do not see very often. A quick look at his shot chart gives you both the encouragement and concern for his NBA potential.
Rollins has an advanced midrange game that is essential for a guard in today’s NBA, but he does not yet have the three-point shooting to match. Part of this is due to the fact that Rollins had to create a lot of his own offense off the dribble at Toledo while also trying to create for his teammates. This means he had to dribble into the teeth of the defense to draw extra attention, use his strength as a pull-up shooter to make it so that is bullet point No. 1 on a scouting report, and dish out 123 assists in the meantime. He had fewer opportunities to get clean three-point shots off. I personally think he will be a fine three-point shooter once surrounded by NBA talent as evidenced by his pull-up jumper and his 80.2% from the free-throw line.
Defensively there will be big concerns, however. Rollins measures in at 6-foot-3.25 and 179.2 pounds at the NBA Combine so he does not have good size. He also showed below-average athleticism on film and the area it affected him the most was man-to-man defense. He does not have the foot speed to keep up with top-notch athletes and is not as attentive to technique here as he is on offense. I think he could be a good defender because he does show good awareness off the ball in help defense, but he will have to clean up things like footwork and closeout technique when in man-to-man situations.
Like Jaden Hardy, I think Rollins at the very least could be an impactful microwave scorer with good playmaking skills as well.
Sparty fans, rejoice! The Pistons are now in Max Christie range. Christie has a few more physical tools than Rollins, but is usually mocked behind him because he has shown to be more than a role player. Scoring just 9.3 points per game with shooting splits of 42.9/31.7/82.4, Christie had a disappointing freshman season at Michigan State. Christie did flash plenty of ability, however, to warrant a top-40 ranking in this draft, and I would not at all be surprised if he ended up getting selected at the end of the first round.
Christie is 6-foot-5.75 and weighs in at 189.2 pounds with a 6-foot-8.75 wingspan—so he is on the edge of being a wing or guard. Christie has a solid handle, great man-to-man defensive skills, and real shooting potential. Christie, more often than not, took on the toughest perimeter assignment on defense for the Spartans, and his blend of quickness and hustle always made a big difference. He also looked at his best on offense as a shooter coming off screens which makes his 3-and-D potential abundantly clear.
Christie’s main deficiency comes as a finisher. Christie could neither get to the rim nor could he finish when he got there. Just look at this shot chart to get an idea of how bad it is.
This more than anything is what will knock Christie down boards as he wasn’t nearly as good as someone like Bryce McGowens who similar had shooting struggles but attacked the rim and finished to offset some of those concerns. There is also not a lot of red on that shot chart so Christie is a ball of POTENTIAL on offense that hasn’t yet put it all together. This is mainly due to the fact that this Michigan State really did not have a reliable veteran shot-creator like in years past.
No one on this Michigan State team: scored 420 total points, averaged AT LEAST 12 ppg, took at least 10 field goal attempts per game, or had more than 81 trips to the free-throw line. If you want to diss Christie, please look at that sentence again and tell me how a freshman is supposed to succeed in that? Unless you are Cade, LeBron, Kyrie level then you are going to struggle.
As I have stated before, I love Michigan State guys the way Bill Belichick loves players out of Rutgers cuz we trust the man coaching them to get them fully prepared to be a pro. Surrounded by guys that can get their own shot consistently and space the floor, I think Christie will improve and be a good 3-and-D option in the NBA.
One of the more underrated guys in this class, I think there is little to no difference between Christian Koloko and all-of-a-sudden potential lottery pick Mark Williams. Williams has the advantage in terms of size, but I think Koloko is much better than Williams when it comes to being a switchable 5 on defense. And the size advantage is not as wide as you might think with Koloko’s 7-foot height and 221 pound weight, 9-foot-5 standing reach and 7-foot-5.25 wingspan.
I personally have Koloko rated above Williams because Koloko moves like a wing out there. He is able to get up and down the court in a hurry, and Koloko is a great transition finisher and lob threat. I also feel strongly he would immediately be one of Cade’s favorite teammates with that length and Koloko’s verticality to get up for any and all lobs. Koloko’s defensive impact, also cannot be understated as he posted two or more blocks in 25 out of Arizona’s 37 games this past season. He is also not just hunting down blocks and blowing defensive assignments chasing them down, this was within the system and Arizona’s defense was built entire around Koloko’s abilities to defend the paint.
I do think on defense he will need to fine-tune his footwork to do a better job in switches. Right now, he gets too excited and does not sit down and patiently slide to use his length to its utmost impact. If he does this, he could be like a seven-foot Robert Williams in my opinion. Koloko is a limited offensive player, however, who is only going to be a rim runner to start his NBA career. His touch was spotty at the beginning of the year when the team asked him to create offense and he looked to have almost no post moves. By the end of the year, though, it did improve he was Arizona’s second most reliable offensive player in the Pac-12 and NCAA Tournaments, so there is improvement here.
BUT, BUT, and I cannot star, asterisk, and dump a whole bag of salt on what I am about to share with you, BUT Koloko did come in tied for second place at the NBA Combine in the three-point star drill. As I have stated previously, I do not put much if any stock into drills, but I will share these data points in the scouting reports with when I get them because you cannot completely disregard them.
Jake LaRavia shot 17 for 25 in the 3 point star drill...— Rafael Barlowe (@Barlowe500) May 18, 2022
In my opinion Christian Koloko really helped his draft stock today with his shooting.. pic.twitter.com/fA2Hrr7a59
Thank you again for all the comments and time you spend here on DBB as we could not be the best place for Pistons content on the web without you! Let us know who you want the team to take at 36 in the comments and remember as always #InTroyWeTrust