Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, June 9, 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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Leslie (New York City): Why do you prefer Valanciunas to Biyombo in the Warriors.com mock draft? All this doubt about Biyombo’s age is speculation, in my opinion. At least Biyombo is NBA ready. I’ve watched Valanciunas’ highlight reels and am not impressed. He’s long, but very skinny.
Langlois: You have to pick someone, Leslie, and I said that if the draft unfolded the way the Warriors.com exercise did – with Irving, Williams, Knight, Kanter, Walker, Vesely and Leonard gone ahead of No. 8 – then the Pistons would probably consider Valanciunas and Biyombo and perhaps one or two others. We conducted the interview a week ago. Trust me, the Pistons would not have been fully prepared to make the decision between those two (and a few others, as well) at that point. Vice president Scott Perry and personnel director George David will be in three European countries over the next four days – Spain, Lithuania and Italy – to further evaluate not only Biyombo and Valanciunas, but Jan Vesely and Donatas Motiejunas, too. You could well be right that Biyombo, because of his mature body and athleticism, is more ready to contribute next season. But there is no shortage of scouts who believe that Valanciunas will prove the best big man to come from this draft – and perhaps the best player. If you believe Valanciunas, within four years, will become a top-five center, I think most teams would conclude he’s worth the wait.
Mack (Shelby Twp., Mich.): What’s your opinion of Donatas Motiejunas? After reviewing some of the top European players, I find him the most intriguing next to Enes Kanter.
Langlois: He’s next up in our profiles of candidates for the No. 8 pick, Mack, due to be posted Friday on Pistons.com. He’ll have a chance to make an impression on Pistons front-office staffers at the weekend Eurocamp in Italy. I’d put him closer to the bottom of the list than the top for possibilities with the lottery pick, though, simply because the Pistons already have two players, Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye, who have somewhat similar skill sets. The Pistons would have to believe either that Motiejunas could come in and be better than those two players – if not immediately, than relatively soon – or that he can fully develop his interior game and offer something as a defensive presence. I’ll be curious to see what his measurements are coming out of Treviso. If he’s still in the 7-foot-0, 220 range with a relatively short wing span that would indicate he isn’t likely to turn into a defensive menace anytime soon, then he might even slide out of the lottery. But if he tests well and impresses in interviews, yeah, there’s a chance he could still work his way into heavy consideration from the Pistons and other top-10 teams.
Buk (Bangkok, Thailand): With this considered a fairly weak draft and next year’s looking more promising, do you think Joe Dumars might consider trading our No. 8 this year for an unprotected No. 1 next year? I was thinking Rip and No. 8 for Cleveland’s 2012 No. 1 pick. This would give the Cavs three top-10 picks, Detroit some cap relief and a shot at next year’s lottery. Any chance?
Langlois: It would give both teams a lot to digest, Buk. I get the sense the Pistons feel fairly confident that they will get a player they feel good about at No. 8 this year. It might take the draft going a certain way – as it did last year, when Golden State took Ekpe Udoh and allowed the Pistons to grab Greg Monroe – but it actually looks more likely to happen this year than it did last that players who wouldn’t necessarily be good fits for the Pistons will go before they pick. But if Cleveland truly offered next year’s No. 1 without protection in addition to giving the Pistons the trade exception it acquired last summer in exchange for Hamilton, it would be a deal worth considering. The Cavs would have to love a certain player to do that deal, though, or know that they need the No. 8 pick to get a player they really covet. If they need 8 to combine with 4 to move up to 2 so they can add both Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams – the impetus of the report from last month that included the Pistons in a deal with Minnesota and Cleveland – then they could be motivated to deal with the Pistons. But I doubt there’s any particular player who might be available at 8 that would motivate the Cavs to do your trade as proposed. And if they come out of this draft with Irving and, for instance, Enes Kanter, then they’ll have gone a long way toward re-energizing their fan base and giving them a cornerstone for rebuilding – all while preserving a likely lottery pick next year in a draft that could yield another young star.
Tobias (Cottbus, Germany): Which second-round big man will be the best fit for the Pistons: JaJuan Johnson, Keith Benson, Jordan Williams, Jeremy Tyler, Jon Leuer or Trey Thompkins?
Langlois: Nice list, Tobias. I just finished putting together my list of big men who could be possibilities with the pick at 33 and all six of those names are on it – plus one more. That story will post Monday on Pistons.com as part of our 15-part draft series. As for which one will fit best, when you’re in the second round I don’t know that you worry about fit as much as you do chances for success. You need to make sure the guy you’re picking is good enough to make an NBA roster and eventually have a chance to crack a rotation, first of all. When you get to that point, it’s no better than 50-50, perhaps, the player will be in the NBA within a few years. If all of those players become the very best of what their skill set suggests they could become, then Tyler, Benson or Williams would be the most intriguing. But if Leuer, for instance, develops into a 12-year pro who knocks down 40 percent of his threes and defends his position capably, then he’d be the right pick for the Pistons even if what he offers right now duplicates what Charlie Villanueva or Austin Daye can provide. Tyler has some jaw-dropping measureables that you might optimistically believe could translate into a shot-blocking, space-eating center who also provides an interior scoring threat. But if he can’t do any of those things well enough to hold on to an NBA roster spot, drafting for need won’t satisfy the need.
Donald (Detroit): Some Pistons executives have already met Bismack Biyombo in Spain even before the Eurocamp starts. What’s their impression of him so far?
Langlois: Scott Perry and George David left for Europe on Wednesday night, Donald. They expect to meet with Biyombo and also Jonas Valanciunas, going from Spain to Lithuania, before heading to Treviso, Italy, for Saturday’s start of the Eurocamp. I’m sure their impressions will be closely guarded. The draft could remain a huge mystery until the picks actually start coming off the board.
George (Grand Haven, Mich.): Some mock drafts have the Pistons taking Alec Burks of Colorado. I haven’t seen his name mentioned much in your discussions. Are the Pistons going to work him out?
Langlois: They were expected to work Burks and Kemba Walker out on Wednesday, George. I think there’s a small chance they would draft him, not because of talent but because of roster need. He’s a shooting guard all the way and the Pistons already have Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon who play that position almost exclusively, plus Rodney Stuckey who can play it. And Austin Daye. If Burks blows them away, sure, he’ll be in the discussion.
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