Pistons Mailbag - Monday, May 23, 2011 - Page 3
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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Pierre-Michel (Berlin, Germany): If the Pistons draft a guard or swing man (Kemba Walker, Kawhi Leoanrd) with the No. 8 pick, who is the most likely candidate at No. 33? Vucevic, Benson and Jeremy Tyler have all done well at the draft combine.
Langlois: Vucevic seemed to make a big impression at the combine. He measured well and supposedly impressed in interviews. I can see why. I talked to him and was struck by his earnestness and sincerity. He also has obvious skills. I doubt he gets out of the first round, but you never know. Tyler is a huge question mark. The last time most NBA executives saw him was in Treviso last June and he didn’t impress anyone. He supposedly made strides while playing in Japan this season, but that’s far away from NBA eyes. It only takes one team to believe in his potential, though, so he could go anywhere from late in the first round to undrafted.
Pete (New York City): I think Nikola Vucevic is a very interesting prospect. He contributed all season for USC and showed a very rounded game with impressive offensive skills. Jonathan Givony (of DraftExpress.com) claimed a number of NBA executives are more impressed by him than Enes Kanter. While Kanter is projected as a top-three pick, do you think Vucevic deserves a place in the top 15?
Langlois: He’s an interesting case, Pete. I think the fact he measured out at nearly 7 feet and a solid 260 with only 6 percent body fat caught everyone’s attention. One thing I heard consistently about him going into the combine was that his body looked soft. That’s no longer a concern. He averaged a double-double at Southern Cal. You could make a strong case that such a profile adds up to a lottery pick. Can he rise high enough for the Pistons to consider him at No. 8? I don’t know. The Pistons are obviously aware of him – he told me in Chicago on Friday that he had already interviewed with the Pistons and expected to work out for them.
James (Bridgeport, W. Va.): It looks pretty certain one of these four players – Kanter, Biyombo, Thompson or Valanciunas – will be available with the No. 8 pick. What should make a Pistons fan excited about each particular guy?
Langlois: You can probably throw Jan Vesely into the mix, too, James. You’re probably right that at least one from among that group will be available, but it’s conceivable they’ll all be gone, too. I think the only thing that’s “pretty certain” is that both Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams will be gone. It’s possible that any other player will be there at No. 8. As I’ve written, it probably helps the Pistons land a big man they feel good about if Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight go ahead of their pick. I’m not sure either one will be gone, let alone both. If neither one goes, then it’s conceivable the other five players (besides Irving and Williams) to go ahead of the Pistons’ pick are Kanter, Biyombo, Thompson, Valanciunas and Vesely. If all five reach the upper end of expectations for them – admittedly, that isn’t very likely to happen – then what draft analysts are now pegging as a weak draft will turn out to be a pretty good one. Any one of the five has something on his resume that would excite Pistons fans if they maximize their potential. Kanter has big-time scoring and rebounding potential. Valanciunas is a legit 7-footer who just turned 19, plays hard and has produced in the Euroleague despite his tender age. Vesely, too, has played at Europe’s highest level and has length and athleticism. Biyombo and Thompson could both become elite defensive big men. But drafting big men in the top 10 is like drafting quarterbacks in the top 10. You’re as likely to wind up with a journeyman or a washout as you are an All-Star or an impact player.
Brett (Las Vegas): If there is no 2011-12 season, how will the 2012 lottery and draft be handled? Will 2010-11 records be used again?
Langlois: That’s a hypothetical nobody wants to test, Brett, and it’s very unlikely it comes to that. But if the entire season were to be wiped out, then it would be up to the NBA how to administer the 2012 draft. It’s not likely they would use the 2011 standings and even less likely they would simply repeat the order of the 2011 lottery. More likely is something similar to what the NHL did when it lost the entire 2004-05 season. The 2005 draft – the one in which Sidney Crosby was very clearly the No. 1 prospect – included a lottery that gave each of the league’s 30 teams a shot at the No. 1 pick, though teams with the best records from the 2003-04 season faced very long odds.
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