Pistons Mailbag - Monday, May 9, 2011
Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.
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Isaac (Flint, Mich.): Terrence Jones just pulled himself out of the draft. He was likely a top-10 talent. This is getting to be a bad year for the lottery. Why do you think they keep dropping out like this?
Langlois: It was mildly surprising that Jones pulled out, Isaac. His playing time probably will be cut as a sophomore at Kentucky with three big-time frontcourt talents in John Calipariís incoming freshman class. I donít think Jonesí decision will affect the Pistons. I do not believe he would have made the cut to their short list, should they stay at No. 7 or get bumped down a spot, mostly because of his position. The three players who would have helped the Pistons land a better player in the lottery had they been in this draft are Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger. Itís likely all three would have been taken in the first six picks. Why are so many staying? I really donít think the potential of a lockout is a big factor, as many are suggesting. Two years ago, we also had a rash of projected lottery picks decide to return to school, including Greg Monroe, Cole Aldrich and Evan Turner. Even if owner-player negotiations play out as they did in 1998 Ė when the season was eventually cut to 50 games Ė that still would mean players would start getting paid about two months later than they otherwise would. I donít think thatís really shaping many decisions.
Anthony (Bensenville, Ill.): Assuming the Pistons have their pick of big men, what are the pros and cons of Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas, Donatas Motiejunas and Bismack Biyombo? I think Biyombo is the best bet, but what do you think?
Langlois: Any opinions I have on the international big men are based on what Iím hearing from NBA scouts or reading from those who have seen them in person. I saw Biyomboís Nike Hoop Summit game and Iíve seen edited video packages of the others, but not enough to form anything more than vague impressions. Kanter is generally cited as being the most sure and most ready of the four. More than one has compared him to Al Horford. Valanciunas might have the highest ceiling. If he isnít already, I think heís going to be a legit 7-footer and a true post player. Motiejunas could turn into a very good player, but despite his size he probably is going to be more of a perimeter presence than an interior one. Biyombo draws a lot of comparisons to Ben Wallace Ė similar size, similar potential to be a dominant defender. I did have one scout who saw him in Portland say that Biyomboís value on offense will be strictly as a rebounder and that, unlike Wallace, heís prone to turnovers, though that could be something he outgrows. One other international big man not on your list might be more ready than Kanter to contribute: Jan Vesely, whose athleticism and size have drawn comparisons to a young Andrei Kirilenko. His dunking ability made him the Blake Griffin of Europe this season.
Ash (Melbourne, Australia): With all the talk about Bismack Biyombo, I was wondering what you thought of Kenneth Faried? Where is he projected to go? What are the chances of drafting Faried and Biyombo together? I think the Pistons could make huge steps forward with both of them.
Langlois: One or the other, Ash. The Pistons canít get both with their picks at seven (if thatís where they stay) and 33. Faried has a decent shot at going in the lottery. If he slips, it isnít going to be far enough to carry him out of the first round. Also to consider: Even if a team had picks positioned right about where value would dictate taking Biyombo and Faried both, would it be wise to take two such similar players whose outstanding traits are hustle and rebounding? Maybe you can never have too many of them, but ultimately, somebody has to put the ball in the basket, too. The Pistons arenít stocked with frontcourt scoring options as it is.
Byron (Detroit): I think the best player in the draft that the Pistons need most is Enes Kanter. If the Pistons donít get a top-three pick, how hard do you think Joe Dumars would try to move up in the draft to take him?
Langlois: Interesting question, Byron, but tough to give any meaningful answer until we see the results of the lottery and then get a sense of what teams covet which players. For instance, last year Philly beat the odds to go from No. 6 to No. 2. Minnesota really wanted to get into that spot to get Ohio Stateís Evan Turner. The pick appeared to be in play because Turner didnít seem a great fit for the 76ers. Ultimately, Philly kept the pick and spent it on Turner. But something similar could happen again this year. The top two picks, by overwhelming early opinion, are Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams. Letís say whoever gets the No. 1 pick takes Williams and say Washington gets the No. 2 pick. Irving makes no sense for the Wizards, who took John Wall last year. It would be safe to say the No. 2 pick will be in play at that point. If Williams and Irving go 1-2, then it will be critical to see who gets the No. 3 pick to determine whether Kanter would be in play at that spot. If Sacramento, for instance, were to get the No. 3 pick Ė the Kings have DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson and have said they want to retain Samuel Dalembert as a free agent Ė then Kanter is an unlikely No. 3 pick. They ideally might want to trade down and get either Kemba Walker or Brandon Knight to pick up another asset for trading back. If they are comfortable that one or the other would be there at No. 7 Ė and if theyíre as fond of one as the other Ė then perhaps the Pistons would be able to work a deal to move up. Now, that all supposes the hypothetical that the Pistons are focused on Kanter and view him as clearly superior to the options that might be there at seven. We donít know that.
Al (Wolverine Lake, Mich.): Last year it seemed like a good thing for the Pistons when Minnesota picked Wesley Johnson with the No. 4 pick Ė the Pistons didnít really have a need for another wing player and it allowed the big men to slip another spot to them. Which player do the Pistons want to see go ahead of them this year?
Langlois: Thatís another great question, Al. My guess Ė and this goes hand in hand with Byronís question from above Ė is that it will benefit the Pistons if both Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight are taken ahead of their spot, assuming the Pistons donít land a top-three pick. I write more extensively about this in todayís True Blue Pistons.
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