With almost nothing certain, evaluations could go down to the wire
The Pistons announced a list of guards they brought to Auburn Hills last week to work out, but none of those players are considered likely first-round candidates. It’s possible the Pistons won’t bring their candidates for the No. 8 pick in for individual workouts and interviews until after Joe Dumars and his top two assistants, vice president Scott Perry and personnel director George David, return from the Adidas Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy, which wraps up on June 13 – a mere 10 days before the draft.
The likelihood that five international big men – Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesley, Bismack Biyombo and Donatas Motiejunas – will be taken in or near the lottery complicates the evaluation process this year. That’s the case not solely because of their international status – scouting them is more certain than it was a decade or more ago, in part due to technology and in part to NBA experience in scouting the world over that decade – but because of special circumstances.
With Kanter, it’s the fact he’s played one organized game in the past two years due to conflicts about his amateur standing. With Valanciunas, it’s a question of his contract status and immediate NBA availability. And with Biyombo, it’s the mystery surrounding his sudden emergence coupled with questions regarding actual date of birth.
Mock drafts are worthy of mocking, in large measure, but even the ones with rare credibility are all over the map this year. You can follow them, as well as the consensus of 14 mock drafts of varying credibility, on our Draft Central page.
If you believe the consensus, then all three of Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight and Kawhi Leonard will be gone by the time the Pistons pick. Eleven of the 12 have Knight going seven or higher, 10 of 12 have Walker gone and eight of 12 have Leonard off the board.
It’s now unanimous that Kanter will be gone, though still possible he’ll consent to an interview, at least, with the Pistons. But only seven of 12 have Valanciunas gone when the Pistons pick. Ten have Biyombo available to the Pistons. Six have Vesely available. Eleven of 12 have Marcus Morris available; ditto for twin brother Markieff. All 12 have both Tristan Thompson and Motiejunas available.
So if the consensus is right, the Pistons could have their choice among the following big men: the Morris twins, Motiejunas, Thompson and Biyombo with a decent shot that at least one of Vesely and Valanciunas will be included.
That’s a good thing – but it also makes for an unusually long list of prospects to be vetted with just three weeks to go. The Pistons probably have a priority list already, but you can be sure it’s written in pencil. A big chunk of the evaluation process is tied up in individual workouts and interviews with Dumars.
Motiejunas, Vesely and Biyombo are expected to be in Treviso for some combination of workouts and interviews, though they won’t compete in the five-on-five action that differentiates Treviso from Chicago. Valanciunas is not currently listed as a Treviso participant.
Dumars, Perry and David have all been to Europe at least once each this season – you can safely assume all have seen each of the potential candidates at No. 8, with the possible (likely?) exception of Biyombo, who didn’t begin play in Spain’s ACB league until January, but both Perry and scouting director Doug Ash saw him at the Nike Hoop Summit.
When they return from Treviso, armed with the firsthand knowledge gleaned there, it will kick off a hectic home stretch. The Pistons sometimes have held workouts the day of the draft. One memorable one was for Mehmet Okur 10 years ago. This year could be a candidate for another round of draft-day workouts. The jockeying for information looks like it will go right to the wire.