On Point

3 point guards projected as top-10 picks could intrigue Pistons

Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum
Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum
Streeter Lecka/Kevin C. Cox (Getty Images Sport)
CHICAGO – The Pistons ended last season with a four-guard rotation that consisted entirely of players who’ve spent the bulk of their careers as point guards. Yet it’s conceivable they’ll draft one with their lottery pick on June 27.

Both Jose Calderon and Will Bynum are scheduled to hit free agency less than a week after the draft and there’s no guarantee either one, let alone both, will be back. Rodney Stuckey has only a year left on his contract before he hits free agency, but he could be perhaps the most attractive trade chip in Joe Dumars’ arsenal in what shapes up as an active summer. And Brandon Knight’s ability to shoot off of screens – and a motor that figures to get him open frequently to do just that – means his move to shooting guard could become permanent.

So it’s not hard to see the way to an opening for the Pistons to grab one of the three point guards considered top-10 picks: Michigan’s Trey Burke, Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams and Lehigh’s C.J. McCollum.

They all bring something different to the table. Burke carried Michigan to the NCAA title game and oozed the qualities of a leader and winner in a player who can score in a variety of ways but also set up his teammates. Carter-Williams is more of an old-school point guard with the great size that remains Burke’s biggest question mark. And McCollum is more of a scoring point guard who many teams like for his ability to handle either backcourt spot.

All three lit up at the prospect of being picked by the Pistons in the lottery and sliding in to run an offense that features young big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

“I know both of them personally, so it would be great having the opportunity to play with them,” Burke said Thursday at the NBA draft combine. “But we’ll see how everything pans out.”

Burke said he was “surprised” he didn’t have an interview scheduled with the Pistons during the combine, which runs through the week. That doesn’t mean the Pistons didn’t request a meeting with Burke – the NBA allocates interviews and isn’t obligated to fill team requests – or that they won’t bring him in to Auburn Hills.

But if the Pistons don’t move up from their No. 7 spot in next Tuesday’s lottery, Burke might not oblige them for an interview in Auburn Hills later. Burke might hold a slight edge as the top-rated point guard, and it won’t hurt his cause that he measured at 6-foot-1 – some feared he wouldn’t crest 6 feet – with a 6-foot-5 wing span. He told me there would likely be a cutoff point somewhere among lottery teams for his workout obligations.

“I don’t want to burn myself out before individual workouts with (high lottery teams) if it’s a team that might be in the teens or seven through 10 or something like that,” he said. “It depends on what information I get from teams and it depends on how the balls drop on the 21st.”

Carter-Williams said he interviewed with the Pistons on Wednesday night and felt he was well received.

“It went real well,” he said. “I liked the guys that were in there. They gave me a lot of words of wisdom. They liked me as a person and they liked my attitude and my passion for the game. They see me fitting real well, especially with the two young big guys they have and Brandon Knight. They moved him to the two and I could play the one over there and flourish at that position. It would be a great team to go to, especially with those young guys.”

McCollum heads back to Bethlehem, Pa., on Sunday to go through Monday’s commencement at Lehigh, where he’ll take his degree in journalism – smart kid – and then he’ll hit the individual workout circuit. He’s coming off a broken foot that cut short his senior season, but was cleared for full contact nearly three weeks ago, he said.

The Pistons are the last of McCollum’s 15 scheduled interviews in Chicago, set for Friday afternoon.

“They definitely are a great fit,” McCollum said. “They have some tremendous guards there now – Brandon Knight, Stuckey, some others, as well. But they definitely have a lot of young, flourishing talent.”

The Pistons, given their projected $25 million in cap space available this summer, can fill urgent needs via free agency or the trades that their cap space can help facilitate, allowing them the luxury of truly drafting the best available player. There’s a decent chance that could be a point guard – one of Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams or C.J. McCollum.