Off the Charts

Kim English wows Pistons with his jump shot, character

Missouri's Kim English brings shooting and intangibles to the Pistons.
Ed Zurga (Getty Images Sport)
Joe Dumars felt comfortable drafting 18-year-old Andre Drummond in large part because he believes in the environment the Pistons have established and the mettle of young leaders Greg Monroe and Brandon Knight. By the time draft night was over, he felt even better about that environment, thanks to spending the 44th pick on Missouri’s Kim English.

English brings to the Pistons a deadly jump shot and a killer personality, a player so dedicated to improvement he slept in the locker room as a Missouri freshman to get up jump shots before 7 a.m. reveille. Before he left 6 Championship Drive last weekend he loaded 10 Pistons games on his iPad to begin absorbing Lawrence Frank’s offense before Summer League practices open on Thursday.

When I asked Joe D last week if the presence of serious-minded young leaders like Monroe and Knight gave him greater security that Drummond would fall in with the right influences as a teenage professional, he answered by immediately referencing English.

“Let me say something about Kim English right now. As you guys could probably see on the stage (at their introductory press conference Friday afternoon), off the charts. You’ll see – trust me – this year he’ll be the most impressive young guy you guys have dealt with in a long time.

“He walks in when those guys first get here, he says, ‘Joe, how old is Drummond?’ ‘Eighteen.’ He said, ‘I got him. I’ll make sure he’s everywhere he’s supposed to be on time.’ That’s the kind of guy Kim English is. We drafted him for more than that, because the guy can shoot the ball. But I just think it’s important you have those types of people around an 18-year-old kid, that’s going to take him under their wing and make sure he’s never late for anything, he’s early, here’s what you do.”

A few minutes earlier, on that stage, Frank beamed as English talked about his eagerness to get going.

“We’re ready to work,” he said. “We’re ready to work today if we could. We’re ready for Summer League. We’re ready for Oct. 1.”

Plenty of rookies say upon being drafted that they wound up in the situation they’d hoped for, but English left little doubt of his sincerity. He was a year old when the Pistons repeated as NBA champions in 1990, yet he responded “Bad Boys” when asked what comes to mind when he hears “Pistons.” He calls the 2004 title team the “play the right way” team and tabs them one of his favorite championship teams ever.

“I’m blessed,” he said of being drafted by the Pistons. “There’s not another team in the NBA I want to play for. I’m a huge, huge Joe Dumars fan.”

“This is a kid who comes from a tremendous family background,” Pistons personnel director George David said. “This is a kid who is extremely driven, extremely tough, off-the-charts willpower. He has the ability to make shots, a quick release and being able to shoot from the perimeter. What he brings is the multiple dimension of also being a guy who is a tremendous defender. He brings a very high motor, a lot of confidence and he’s a player we feel has a lot of leadership capabilities. He was somebody we were ecstatic to get at 44.”

English’s agent texted him around the 20th pick to let him know he might be going to Indiana, picking 26th. A few minutes later, he learned the Pacers were going with Duke big man Miles Plumlee. Before the Pistons shipped Ben Gordon to Charlotte, English was seen as a prime candidate to go to the Bobcats with the first pick of the second round. The Pistons thought the Bulls, looking for a shooter, might take him late in the first.

They were conflicted at 39, debating between English and Khris Middleton, a player they rated as a first-round talent. They looked at the four teams picking between 39 and 44 and figured only Milwaukee, at 42, would be a threat to grab English ahead of them. But when Joe D called his former top aide, John Hammond, he learned the Bucks would take Kentucky shooting guard Doron Lamb.

English knew all about the Gordon trade and how it not only affected his chances to land in Charlotte but also the opportunity for playing time it created with his preferred destination.

“Ben Gordon was the lone 40 percent 3-point shooter (for the Pistons) this year,” he said. “I think Brandon Knight did a tremendous job shooting for a rookie point guard. I think he shot 38 percent from three and that’s really exceptional for a rookie. But just the culture around here. I take pride in my defense, I take pride in winning and I take pride in knocking down shots. That’s the three things I explained to Joe Dumars when we met.”

He’ll get to put that pride on display for the first time as a Piston on Thursday night, when the team gathers in Orlando for its first Summer League practice.