Working the Draft

Promotion doesn’t alter David’s hands-on role with Pistons draft prep

George David
George David is preparing for the June draft.
Allen Einstein (NBAE/Getty)
George David’s first draft as Pistons assistant general manager isn’t much different for him than the past several as personnel director. He’s added some duties outside of draft prep in his new role, but he remains the central figure in the run-up to draft night for the Pistons – the guy who directs the scouting staff, puts the draft board together and makes sure Joe Dumars sees every viable candidate for their No. 1 pick in person.

The decisions on draft night are Joe D’s. Making sure he is as well-prepared to make those decisions is perhaps the best way to describe David’s draft role.

As such, he goes by the Boy Scout creed: always be prepared. So when the Pistons were awarded the second-round clip of the Los Angeles Clippers that once seemed unlikely, it was a nice bonus but not something that caught David unprepared.

The Pistons will be picking from one extreme to the other in the June 27 draft – a top-10 pick, a bottom-10 pick and one very near the middle.

“It increases the pool, for sure,” he said. “It increases the pool dramatically of the players you’ll be bringing in to work out. The second thing it does is it probably starts that process a little bit earlier than normal in terms of bringing players in and visiting with them. It also increases the amount of players at some of the different events that you’re going to want to talk to and evaluate.

“But even if we just had the two picks, we would still be prepared for the top 100 players in case you had any maneuvering within the draft.”

Being armed with picks in so many different ranges, though, virtually ensures that the Pistons will be able to schedule individual workouts with almost everyone, especially in a draft characterized as one without great separation between prospects.

“Based on where you’re selecting in the draft, it almost prohibits you from being able to bring in some players that would be in those ranges,” in drafts without a range of picks under your control, David said.

David has already been to the Portsmouth Invitational, where he got a glimpse of several candidates for the pick at 56. He left Tuesday for Europe, where he’ll spend about 10 days and see six or seven prospects in three or four countries, he said. The NBA draft combine will be held in Chicago in mid-May, which this season puts it before the May 21 lottery, throwing another wrinkle into the process.

The lottery has preceded the combine for the past several seasons, which has shaped the interview process. The NBA allots a certain number of interviews per team over the course of the combine. It’s easier to hone in on the prospects to interview armed with the knowledge of draft order. David makes sure he schedules Chicago interviews with players he isn’t certain he’ll be able to get into Auburn Hills for individual workouts, he said. There also will be at least two group workouts hosted by other NBA teams that David plans to attend, likely accompanied by other Pistons personnel evaluators.

“The other thing it does from a draft workout preparation standpoint, you really probably wouldn’t begin that process until after the draft lottery,” David said. “So it slightly delays the timing of preparing for your draft workouts.”

With his added responsibilities, David now is involved more with the other aspects of player acquisition – trades and free agency. And this year, with the Pistons armed with $25 million or more in cap space, those last two areas are more likely to make an impact on the 2013-14 roster. But the draft comes before free agency and the most active part of the trade season. Both Jose Calderon and Will Bynum, the top two point guards on the depth chart, are pending free agents. How will that affect draft night?

“Your roster always affects your thinking,” David said, “but I would say what affects our thinking even more than that is the talent level of each particular guy you’re evaluating for that pick. What you’re constantly battling when you’re making a draft pick is, from a talent standpoint is there a more talented player at a different position than what you’re selecting? You don’t want to select a position of need when there’s a much higher talent at a different position available. Because you do have the luxury of trades and free agency to address a position of need.”

Nine weeks from today, it all comes together. Safe to say there won’t be a day between now and then that David doesn’t put to good use.