SVG's first act as Pistons boss: drafting Spencer Dinwiddie

The Pistons selected Spencer Dinwiddie out of Colorado with the 38th pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
Ezra Shaw (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

The first draft choice Stan Van Gundy executed provided a little insight into how the dual-role dynamic he fills with the Pistons is going to work.

For those concerned Van Gundy the coach would trump Van Gundy the president of basketball operations in sacrificing the future for a marginally improved present, rest easy.

Van Gundy resisted any temptation to cede future assets to move into the first round, standing pat with the 38th pick. And he clearly looked beyond his first training camp in taking a player, Spencer Dinwiddie, who is coming off a January ACL tear that puts his status for the summer in doubt.

If not for that knee injury that cut short his junior season at Colorado – where they once had a pretty fair point guard named Chauncey Billups – Dinwiddie was widely viewed as a first-round talent.

“We felt he was a first-round talent. I know that’s a cliché, but we really targeted him as a player we were very impressed with,” Pistons general manager Jeff Bower said Thursday night. “We think it was a good night for the organization.”

Van Gundy said earlier this week that the Pistons weren’t looking to draft a great athlete and hope he developed into a great basketball player. He was looking for players who did one or two things well enough to crack an NBA rotation. Dinwiddie, a rangy point guard with terrific vision and a 41-percent 3-point shooter, gives the backcourt an immediate injection of size and should boost their perimeter offense.

“His ability to move the ball and pass the ball and his instincts,” Bower said of what immediately struck him about Dinwiddie. “We think he’s got outstanding size for the point guard position. Strength, a very good feel for moving the ball, creating plays as well as his scoring ability and the ability to shoot the ball.”

Dinwiddie said he sees himself “as a pure one and I think I showed that in college, but at the same time I think I bring defensive versatility with my size and also my shooting, as well. I expect to play multiple positions in the league, not just the one.”

The Pistons, Bower said, were comfortable with Dinwiddie’s medical report on the left ACL tear, which occurred on Jan. 12 and was surgically repaired on Jan. 20. He has been doing his rehabilitation in Houston and, he says, he’s not limited in his movement but still needs to regain the explosion in his left leg.

“I talked to the coaching staff,” he said. “They said they don’t want me to set a direct timetable for my recovery.”

“We’re very comfortable with the medical reports and the stages he’s at in his recovery,” Bower said. “Our medical team dug deep into it and we had all his records and where he’s at and conversations with both his surgeon and his therapist. All were positive and gave us the comfort that this was a player that was very successful in his recovery.”

Bower, who said he expected Dinwiddie to travel to Orlando for Summer League next week but not to practice or play, said the Pistons did a video interview via Skype with Dinwiddie on Wednesday. They also got some background intelligence from a very reliable source – Rodney Billups, younger brother of Chauncey Billups and a Colorado assistant coach.

“I think that’s a great path to follow, to be honest,” Dinwiddie said of following in Chauncey Billups’ footsteps from Colorado to the Pistons. “He’s the best player in my school’s history and obviously the best point guard in my school’s history. I want to be like him someday and win championships.”

Dinwiddie averaged 14.7 points and 3.8 assists in 17 games before suffering his knee injury last season at Colorado after averaging 15.3 points and 3.0 assists as a sophomore. At the Chicago draft combine in May, he measured 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds with a 6-foot-8¼ wing span.

“His instincts are of a point guard,” Bower said. “But he does have the size that gives him the flexibility to do a lot of different things.”

Van Gundy the president of basketball operations said he was looking for high-character, highly competitive players who were tough and smart. In his first major decision since accepting the dual role from Tom Gores to relaunch the Pistons’ future, he gave Van Gundy the coach just such a player.