True Blue Pistons - July 2013

Keith Langlois
About Keith Langlois
Award-winning journalist Keith Langlois, most recently lead sports columnist at The Oakland Press, joined Pistons.com as the web site editor on October 2, 2006. Langlois, who brings over 27 years of professional sports journalism experience to Palace Sports & Entertainment, serves as Pistons.com's official beat writer and covers the team on a daily basis.

Questions and comments on Keith's posts can be submitted via the Pistons Mailbag. Or follow Keith on Twitter.

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Posted Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Eleven summers ago, Joe Dumars used every available avenue to overhaul a Pistons roster in need of a transfusion. He drafted Tayshaun Prince, signed Chauncey Billups as a free agent and traded for Rip Hamilton.

He didn’t rub his hands and proclaim the Pistons championship worthy after all of that, and Wednesday's trade that brings Brandon Jennings on board from Milwaukee might not provide the final piece to an overhaul that includes the recent free-agent acquisition of Josh Smith and the drafting of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Then again, the 2002 Pistons were short one building block up front to pair with Ben Wallace, and the 2013 Pistons start with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – players whose promise was recognized by USA Basketball with their invitation to last week’s minicamp in Las Vegas.

Adding Jennings surely ups their firepower. A four-year veteran, Jennings averaged 17.4 points per game last season, when he shared Milwaukee’s backcourt with Monta Ellis. He averaged 19.5 the previous season, when Ellis was acquired midway through the season.

Continue reading Pistons Add Punch >>


Posted Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A number of high-profile college basketball coaches dropped in on USA Basketball’s Las Vegas minicamp last week, but none had a more vested interest than Kentucky’s John Calipari. Four of his recent UK players were among the 28 camp participants, and his 2013-14 Kentucky roster will be loaded with future Team USA candidates.

While there, Calipari spotted Maurice Cheeks, with whom he spent the 1999-2000 season as assistant coaches under Larry Brown in Philadelphia. He congratulated Cheeks on his new job as Pistons head coach and gave him an earful about what he could expect from Brandon Knight, Calipari’s point guard on Kentucky’s 2011 Final Four team.

“Mo is one of the great people, great basketball people,” Calipari told me. “I hadn’t seen him in a while and told him how happy I am for him. They’re going to be great for each other. We were just talking about DeMarcus (Cousins). DeMarcus should be starting for me. These kids are 18, 19 and now they become 20 and you expect them to be 25. They’re not.

Continue reading Knight Booster>>


Posted Monday, July 29, 2013

Kevin Durant was on his way to greatness before Maurice Cheeks joined the Oklahoma City coaching staff four years ago. But Cheeks helped to accelerate the process, says a source close to the situation. That source: Kevin Durant.

“I loved being around him,” Durant told me in Las Vegas last week, where he showed up on the final practice day of Team USA’s four-day minicamp in which Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond participated. “He’s helped me so much as a player. There were nights I’d be playing so terrible and he calmed me down and I turned my game around. He was a great teacher for us and he’s going to do so well with those younger guys in Detroit.”

A consistent theme I’ve heard in talking with more than a half-dozen NBA sources who’ve crossed paths with Cheeks over the years is that he has a way of instilling confidence in his players. Durant added to the chorus.

Continue reading An A-OK from OKC>>


Posted Friday, July 26, 2013

LAS VEGAS – Even if their week under the scorching Las Vegas sun and the equally withering scrutiny of Team USA officials doesn’t yield a berth on the 2014 national team – and they won’t know anything on that score for months – Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond loved their week in the desert.

“When you’re able to play with players like this, it’s not normal – at all,” Monroe said of the three days of practices and Thursday finale, in which both players put their best foot forward as Drummond’s White team pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 128-106 win. “Some people might work out in different cities and you might be working out with other pros, but the level of talent here is kind of hard to mimic. This is a rare opportunity to get better in the middle of summer.”

“The caliber of players out there, we’re all getting up and down the floor really well and we’re pushing ourselves to get better,” Drummond said. “For me, it was a learning experience. All the other guys are older than me and some of them have been at this camp before. It was fun for me to be out here and compete against some of the guys.”

Monroe finished with 10 points, six rebounds, two assists, a blocked shot and a steal in 18 minutes, scoring three times at the rim in the third quarter, once on a dazzling spin move with a right-hand finish that left DeAndre Jordan flat-footed. Drummond logged 13 minutes but made them count, scoring 11 points to go with six rebounds, a pretty assist and a blocked shot.

Continue reading Best of the Best >>


Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2013

LAS VEGAS – Mr. Big Shot really is a big shot. Chauncey Billups would have been in Las Vegas this week even if he hadn’t chosen to return to the Pistons. Having Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in town just made it a little more interesting for him.

Billups, who signed last week as a free agent after being traded from the Pistons nearly five years ago, is among the 11 people on USA Basketball’s board of directors as an athlete representative. So he’s been on hand for practices the past three days on UNLV’s campus with a natural curiosity to see how the two young Pistons big men have fared. He’s bullish on their futures.

“Drummond, he’s a freak athlete,” said Billups, who had dinner Tuesday night with both of his new teammates. “He’s very, very young, wants to learn, wants to be really good and I think he will be because of that. He doesn’t mind working. You love that about a young guy, that he doesn’t mind the grind. I love that about him.

“Greg is a little older, a little more polished in his game. Very smart player, very good player. I think I’m really going to enjoy playing with him, as well, because he’s smart. I love basketball IQ – being able to outsmart teams, beat them mentally, not only physically. Those two guys have got bright futures, man.”

Continue reading Vegas: Day Three >>


Posted Wednesday, July 24, 2013

LAS VEGAS – It doesn’t matter how short you want to make the list of coaches who can speak with authority to the viability of a Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond frontcourt pairing, John Thompson is on it.

And the 1999 Hall of Fame inductee loves what he knows of the young Pistons big men and what he saw from them on day two of USA Basketball’s four-day minicamp here on Tuesday.

Thompson coached some of college basketball’s most dominant big men during his time at Georgetown – including Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning, the latter pair overlapping – and says he would have relished the chance to coach Monroe and Drummond.

“I think anybody would like to have a chance – you become a good coach if you have good players,” said Thompson, who was the U.S. national team coach for the 1988 Olympics. “I like the attitude of those guys, too. I think the two travel simultaneously together, their attitude as well as their ability to play. I like that. I like what’s going on.”

Thompson holds a special fondness for Monroe, recruited to Georgetown by son John Thompson III, and playfully patted Monroe on the head as he addressed the 28 Team USA hopefuls following practice at the invitation of national team coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Continue reading Vegas: Day Two >>


Posted Tuesday, July 23, 2013

LAS VEGAS – First he tried to recruit them, then he had to coach against them in the Big East Conference. Now, finally, Jim Boeheim gets to put his hands on Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

Monroe and Drummond went through the paces for Monday’s opening day of USA Basketball’s four-day minicamp and Boeheim, longtime Syracuse coach and Mike Krzyzewski’s national team assistant, saw the growth in the two young Pistons big men who played for Boeheim’s two biggest rivals, Georgetown and Connecticut.

“Andre has got such a physical presence on the court,” Boeheim said. “You forget he’s still young, but he’s got such a presence out there and he’s going to get better. People have to remember, the Olympics is still three years away. How much better is he going to get in three years?

“Greg Monroe is a tremendous, skilled big guy. He can shoot the ball, he can pass and he’s got just a great future.”

In his time with Krzyzewski, who has been men’s national team coach since 2005 and has led the United States to Olympic gold in 2008 and ’12 and to the 2010 World Championship gold medal, Boeheim has seen young players’ growth accelerated time and again by the experience of competing against peers hoping to land Team USA berths.

Continue reading Vegas: Day One >>


Posted Monday, July 22, 2013

LAS VEGAS – For Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, the quest for Olympic gold begins in a city built on the fantasy of fortunes to be won. The two young Pistons cornerstones will participate in USA Basketball’s four-day minicamp here starting today, including three days of practice and concluding with a Thursday night scrimmage.

They’ll arrive fresh off of Summer League, where Monroe participated in five practices earlier this month and Drummond in practices plus four of the five games. As both made clear in Orlando, they’re aware of the stakes: This is a first hurdle on the way to being considered for a spot on the United States men’s national team for next summer’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil.

Drummond will be the youngest NBA player among the camp’s 28 participants – Indiana’s George Hill and Chicago’s Taj Gibson were late withdrawals – and second-youngest among all players only to Oklahoma State sophomore guard Marcus Smart. He and Creighton senior Doug McDermott, the only collegians, recently competed with the national team at the World University games in Russia.

Beyond the individual honor of being chosen by USA Basketball to compete for a national team berth, the four days of intense competition can only benefit Monroe and Drummond’s growth as players, Joe Dumars believes.

Continue reading Gold Rush>>


Posted Thursday, July 18, 2013

They grew up nearly 30 years apart but a stone’s throw from each other on Chicago’s hardscrabble south side. If Will Bynum had chosen to attend the school across the street from where he lived at the time instead of Crane Tech to the west, he’d have worn the same DuSable High uniform Maurice Cheeks donned in the early ’70s.

There were a few moving pieces that had to fit to bring Bynum back to the Pistons – the only NBA team he’s known, save for a 15-game trial with Golden State as a 23-year-old undrafted rookie – but perhaps none was bigger than Cheeks being hired as head coach.

Cheeks wanted Bynum back, he said, and Bynum believed their shared roots would be conducive to an environment that would lead to a healthy and productive relationship.

Continue reading Will to Win>>


Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Championship contenders with top-heavy payrolls dominated by superstars are always on the hunt for veterans who’ve already banked their big paydays, know the end is in sight and want one or two last grabs for the gold. That’s the economic reality of today’s salary-cap NBA. Good players willing to work for cheap are coveted in the same way draft picks and young players on rookie contracts are closely held.

So it says something that Chauncey Billups is coming home to the Pistons. He’s at that point in his career, turning 37 before training camp starts, where he was undeniably and obviously attractive to the Miamis, San Antonios and Oklahoma Cities, teams at the top of the Las Vegas odds to win the 2014 NBA title.

The Pistons aren’t yet in that tier, but neither are they at the other end in the inevitable NBA life cycle of contention-dissolution-rebuilding-emergence. Mr. Big Shot wasn’t coming back to the Pistons to languish through the 25-win seasons. And those days are behind them now.

Continue reading Mr. Big Shot's Back>>


Posted Monday, July 15, 2013

Will Bynum got a chance to observe Luigi “Gigi” Datome work out before the Pistons introduced their two free-agent acquisitions Monday afternoon. As someone who also had to prove his NBA chops by playing internationally, Bynum has a pretty good handle on what it takes to make the leap across the pond successfully.

“He can play,” Bynum said. “He understands the game. He’s going to be able to keep up. He’s going to have to get used to playing at a certain speed and how spaced the court is, but if you can shoot it in this league, there’s always going to be a spot for you. He’s 6-0, he can shoot it, put it on the floor and he’s tough, too. He’s got an edge about him. I was watching him shoot. He can shoot it – easy, too.”

Datome, 25, is a 10-year pro in Italy who was eligible to sign with any NBA team as a free agent because he’d never been drafted. His play over the last two seasons took a marked leap, culminating in an MVP 2012-13 season when he averaged 16.7 points and 5.7 rebounds and carried Virtus Roma to the league championship series. He shot 40 percent from the 3-point line, nearly 50 percent overall and better than 90 percent at the foul line.

Datome suddenly became the most coveted European free agent with San Antonio, Houston, Memphis, Milwaukee and Boston among others reportedly in pursuit in addition to the Pistons.

Continue reading Long-Distance Help>>


Posted Friday, July 12, 2013

ORLANDO – The Pistons didn’t invite E.J. Singler to play on their Summer League team because they thought it would be a heart-warming brothers-as-teammates story. They added him to fill out their roster because they couldn’t help but notice how he led a team devoid of McDonald’s All-Americans to the Pac-12 title and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

Singler wasn’t a McDonald’s All-American, either, unlike big brother Kyle, who was a senior when E.J. was his sophomore wing man as South Medford High won the Oregon state title by knocking off Kevin Love’s Lake Oswego team, avenging a loss in the title game from the year before.

Other than those two years in high school, they’ve never played on the same team. Kyle didn’t play in Orlando’s Summer League games this week, but he took part in the five practices over three days leading to Sunday’s opener. And when E.J. turned the corner and got a step on Kyle in one of the first scrimmages, Kyle administered the same hard foul he might have done a thousand times in the Singler driveway or at a Medford playground.

“Not the first time,” E.J. grinned. “We’ve had battles like that our whole lives. That’s what has made us good competitors – just battling each other since we were young. We’re both used it. We’re fine with it.”

As an undrafted free agent, and with roster spots tight, E.J. faces an uphill battle to be with the Pistons into the regular season, or with any NBA team, for that matter. But he’s prepared, if necessary, to follow in Kyle’s footsteps in another way by playing in Europe.

Continue reading Singler Times 2>>


Posted Friday, July 12, 2013

Atop the Pistons’ Summer League checklist were assessing Andre Drummond’s readiness for taking the next step and gauging whether Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would show the first signs of being ready to handle a spot in the backcourt rotation.

It’s fair to say Joe Dumars, Maurice Cheeks and their staffs will leave Orlando after five practices, five games and a few morning shootarounds feeling as good about those questions as they possibly could, with the caveat that Summer League is merely a snap shot in time.

Caldwell-Pope got progressively better as the week unfolded, though he consistently played hard even while his shots went awry in the first few games. But he saved his best for last, scoring a game-high 20 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and a steal in Friday’s 90-85 loss to Miami.

A few late misses, including a potential tying 3-pointer in the final seconds, dropped Caldwell-Pope’s final shooting line to 7 of 14, but he played an extremely efficient game offensively, with several other good passes that didn’t yield assists. He scored in a variety of ways: jump shots, an artfully banked runner, put-backs and frequent trips to the basket that resulted in six free throws. Over his last two games, Caldwell-Pope was awarded 16 foul shots.

Continue reading Check, Check>>


Posted Thursday, July 11, 2013

There’s a temptation to group Andre Drummond’s Summer League reign of terror under the “man among boys” heading, except then you remember this: He’s the youngest guy on anyone’s roster in Orlando.

Drummond, who doesn’t turn 20 until next month, set an Orlando Summer League record for rebounds with 18 in a 78-77 Pistons win over Miami on Thursday to go with 23 points, two steals and two blocked shots. That puts his three-game averages – and Drummond is almost surely sitting out Friday’s finale – at 15.7 points, 15 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.7 steals a game.

The game was won on Tony Mitchell’s put-back slam of Korie Lucious’ air-ball runner with 1.7 seconds left. Mitchell and Drummond both grabbed seven offensive rebounds, a testament to the huge upgrade in athleticism Detroit’s front office has managed in the past two off-seasons.

Continue reading Man Among Boys>>


Posted Wednesday, July 10, 2013

If you don’t believe in destiny, maybe the story of how Josh Smith became a Detroit Piston persuades you otherwise. Smith was drafted into the NBA a matter of days after the Pistons won the 2004 NBA title. The Atlanta Hawks took him 17th with a pick they got from … the Pistons.

It was partial payment for the Hawks shipping Rasheed Wallace to Detroit, cementing the roster for a team that would play in six straight Eastern Conference finals and back-to-back NBA Finals. A few weeks before free agency opened on July 1, new Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks made an overture to Wallace to join his staff, where he’ll now be coaching … Josh Smith.

The parallels go one layer deeper. Joe Dumars wanted Wallace nine years ago mostly for his versatility – a player as coveted for his defense as his offense, where he put up points in multiple ways – but also for the jolt of personality he’d provide a locker room of great foot soldiers.

Continue reading Smith Destined to Detroit>>


Posted Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ORLANDO – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope knew shots would start falling sooner or later, but he was rooting hard for sooner.

Sooner came in a hurry after halftime of Tuesday’s 79-75 loss to Oklahoma City as the rookie shooting guard out of Georgia scored 11 quick points to give the Pistons a double-digit lead from a halftime tie. He finished with 19 points and made 4 of 10 3-point shots, which included a desperation try at the buzzer with the Pistons trailing by four.

“It did feel good knocking down a couple of 3-pointers, a couple of easy layups and just knocking down jump shots,” he said. “It just felt good getting my offensive game coming.”

While he struggled to a 1 of 14 showing from behind the 3-point line over his first two games, Caldwell-Pope was urged to continue to take shots the offense is designed to produce by the coaching staff. His teammates, as well, had been in his ear to ignore the results and focus on the process.

Continue reading KCP Breaks Out>>


Posted Tuesday, July 9, 2013

ORLANDO – When Kentavious Caldwell-Pope decided to parlay a sizzling second half to his sophomore season into a run at the NBA draft, the assessment from the league’s advisory committee wasn’t particularly glowing. They had him pegged as a borderline first-round pick.

“Late first round, early second round – that was the feedback I was getting,” he told me here as the Pistons participated in Summer League. “But I wouldn’t have been satisfied with that. I thought I could do better than that. I thought I could compete with the players in my draft class and I showed that in Chicago and in the workouts.”

Caldwell-Pope never wavered, never considered returning to Georgia for his junior season, once he made up his mind to test the waters. And it didn’t take him long, once the draft evaluation process kicked up a notch, to justify the faith in himself.

Continue reading Soaring Expectations>>


Posted Monday, July 8, 2013

ORLANDO – Not long after Joe Dumars decided on Maurice Cheeks to coach the Pistons, Cheeks walked up the stairs from his office to Joe D’s and told him he had a crazy idea. What about adding Rasheed Wallace to the staff?

When Cheeks got around to broaching the subject with Wallace, a week after his hiring, here’s the response he got: “What took you so long to ask?”

NBA assistant coaches burn the candle at both ends, in the building at 8 o’clock the morning after a night game to prepare for that day’s practice, staying late to work with players on individual skills or to pore over videotape of the next opponent. Basketball knowledge oozes from Rasheed Wallace’s pores and teammates for years have extolled his knack for communicating that know-how in digestible bites.

But unless he was ready to commit to the 14-hour, 7-day grind, none of that would matter. It wasn’t a question in Wallace’s mind if he could make the player-to-coach transition, it was a question of did he want it?

Continue reading Coach Wallace>>


Posted Monday, July 8, 2013

ORLANDO – Brandon Knight’s second NBA season was a cycle of pain. It started right here, last July, when he played through stabbing plantar fasciitis in Summer League that dogged him throughout the off-season and cost him valuable training time. The only cure? Staying off your feet, which Knight never fully obliged, and so the pain in his foot never really ebbed, though it was sometimes surpassed by various other ailments, including a hyperextended knee and a sprained ankle.

Physical pain begat emotional pain. Losing didn’t help and neither did the dislocation he felt when Jose Calderon arrived via trade and forced his move to shooting guard. But as Knight sat with ice bags on his knees and ankles after a strenuous Summer League practice over the weekend, he felt re-energized and optimistic for his third season to get going. It starts with his belief in the young core and his initial response to the new coaching staff.

“With our coaching staff and how they push us so far, I love it,” he said. “How they motivate our guys, the things they say. It’s not necessarily about Xs and Os, it’s just how they deliver the message.”

As we spoke, free agents were flying off the shelves to other teams. A few hours later, the Pistons would be linked to one of the biggest names available, but Knight wasn’t sweating it out.

Continue reading A Fresh Start >>


Posted Sunday, July 7, 2013

ORLANDO – It was as rough and ragged as you’d expect of a Summer League opener, but one clearly discernible impression emerged from the muck and mire of the Pistons’ turnover-plagued 76-67 win over Brooklyn: Joe Dumars’ draft-night plan to increase his team’s athleticism was accomplished.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his first eight shots Sunday and finished with four points, but made two eye-grabbing plays to underscore the skill set that enticed the Pistons into using the No. 8 pick on the Georgia sophomore.

The only shot he attempted inside of 18 feet in the first half was a dunk where he took off one very long stride from the rim and soared well above it – and a Brooklyn shot-blocker – forcing a hard foul as he crammed the ball into the back rim. Seconds later, he recovered defensively along the baseline from the weak side to swat away a layup attempt.

“Who would’ve thought he was going to come down the lane and try to dunk on somebody that’s a lot bigger than him?” Andre Drummond grinned after the game. “I didn’t know he had it in him. I thought he was just a shooter, but he told me he had bounce and he proved it. I’m looking forward to more stuff he does.”

Continue reading Off and Running >>


Posted Sunday, July 7, 2013

ORLANDO – Tony Mitchell isn’t running from his reputation earned during a disappointing sophomore season at North Texas, though he could probably either run away from it or jump over it if he chose. It’s that athleticism – on full display through three days of Summer League practices leading to today’s opening game – that got him drafted 37th overall by the Pistons last week.

But it will be how he channels his innate gifts that will determine how high Mitchell can fly in the NBA, which flushes great athletes out of its system routinely if they can’t master the discipline required to harness their athleticism.

Mitchell was a part of Brandon Knight’s 2010 high school class and was regarded in his stratosphere as a prospect, too. Rivals.com ranked him the nation’s No. 12 player – Knight was ranked sixth – and called him a “freak athlete with good ball skills.”

But Mitchell, who was ticketed to join Kim English at Missouri, sat out the 2010-11 season due to academic ineligibility before debuting at North Texas with a bang the following season, averaging 14.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots a game while shooting 57 percent overall and 44 percent from the 3-point line. While Mitchell only shot 41 triples for the season, the accuracy speaks to the rare combination of athleticism and skill he possesses.

Continue reading High Flyer >>


Posted Saturday, July 6, 2013

ORLANDO – Teammates in Detroit, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond have the chance to be teammates for America. Then again, they just might be two players fighting for one Team USA roster spot.

“It’s going to be fun,” Drummond told me this week as he and Monroe took part in practices leading to the five-game Pistons Summer League schedule. “We most likely will be playing for the same spot, so we’ll push each other to get the best out of ourselves. Hopefully, it’s both of us. We’re just going to be excited to be on the same floor together and to work hard.”

The two franchise cornerstones of the Pistons are among 27 young NBA veterans who have been invited to the Team USA minicamp scheduled for July 22-25 in Las Vegas. The next big international competition comes in August and September 2014 in Spain, the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Monroe and Drummond could put themselves in position to be part of the national team with strong performances in Las Vegas before USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his staff.

Continue reading Going for Gold >>


Posted Friday, July 5, 2013

ORLANDO – Peyton Siva knows pressure. You don’t run Rick Pitino’s offense for three years as his starting point guard without coping mechanisms in place. You don’t have the ball in your hands for a team that wins the national championship without the ability to slow time when chaos engulfs you.

But the stakes are a little different now. The most dire consequence of a Pitino tongue lashing might be humiliation or a few extra wind sprints. The worst result of an NCAA tournament loss is an early flight home and no celebratory parade.

Now it’s not his pride on the line; it’s his livelihood. Siva parlayed his four-year bachelor of basketball degree from Louisville into the No. 56 pick in last month’s NBA draft. That’s an area of the draft that guarantees not much beyond a press conference and photo opportunity shared with lottery pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and early second-rounder Tony Mitchell.

Continue reading Opportunity Knocks >>


Posted Thursday, July 4, 2013

ORLANDO – While most of America brushes beach sand from its toes, puts a fresh bag of ice in the cooler and secures the best fireworks vantage point, the Detroit Pistons will be quietly launching their 2013-14 NBA season in a modest Florida rec center.

Draft picks Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Tony Mitchell and Peyton Siva will be joined by 2012-13 rookies Andre Drummond, Kyle Singler, Khris Middleton, Kim English and Slava Kravtsov as new coach Maurice Cheeks and the coaching staff he’s still assembling gather the team for an evening practice in advance of Sunday’s Orlando Summer League opener.

They’re expected to be joined by young veterans Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight for the next few days of practices, with double sessions scheduled Friday and Saturday, all while Joe Dumars and staff continue their pursuit of free agents and draft targets that could dramatically alter the roster.

Of the seven or eight players on the Summer League roster whose rights the Pistons hold and who figure to be on next season’s roster, Andre Drummond has the most certain role, regardless of what veterans are added between now and training camp. Drummond will be the starting center on opening night. He and Singler finished last season as starters and neither figures to play more than a game or two, by all indications, of the five scheduled over six days in Orlando.

Continue reading Summer League Checklist >>


Posted Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Over two nights last November, NBA scouts flocked to Brooklyn’s new Barclays Center. The main attractions were Indiana sophomore center Cody Zeller and UCLA debuting freshman Shabazz Muhammad. Those dozens of scouts couldn’t have known it then, but there were three other lottery prospects on display over those two nights – more than one-third of the 2013 NBA lottery’s 14 picks.

Georgetown sophomore Otto Porter was considered a mid-first rounder at the time before establishing himself as a lottery prospect starting with an impressive showing in Brooklyn. Indiana junior Victor Oladipo was seen as athletic and tenacious but not much else, perhaps a late first-rounder at best, before he also launched a breakthrough season with impressive outings in Brooklyn. And Georgia sophomore Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was on the watch list but not considered very likely to enter the NBA draft in 2013.

The most ballyhooed of the five at the time, Muhammad, wound up being the last of the five picked, 14th. Indiana teammates Oladipo and Zeller went second and fourth, sandwiched around Porter.

Caldwell-Pope, of course, went eighth to the Pistons, and to the extent it’s possible for a McDonald’s All-American playing in a BCS conference to fly under the radar, that’s pretty much what the 6-foot-6 shooting guard did.

Continue reading Second-Half Surge >>


Posted Monday, July 1, 2013

Joe Dumars and his staff put the draft behind them quickly and moved on to free agency, with various reports already linking them to meetings with a few of the most prominent available players.

In two days, the team’s Summer League traveling party heads to Orlando for practices leading to Sunday’s tipoff of five games over six days. So … busy times.

But before we delve too deeply into free agency and Summer League, let’s look a little more at last week’s draft with a perspective gained over the last few days.

It was no accident that the Pistons were rarely linked to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the weeks leading to the draft. They ran an extraordinarily covert campaign to keep it that way. Why? Because it soon became apparent to them that Minnesota, picking one spot behind the Pistons, was intently focused on coming out of Thursday’s draft with a shooting guard with great size.

Draft Subterfuge >>