Pistons Mailbag - Monday, April 23 - Page 2

Pistons.com editor Keith Langlois answers your questions about the Pistons and NBA. Click here to submit your questions - please include your name, email address and city/state on the form. Return to the Mailbag homepage.

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Ken (Ankara, Turkey): Several writers have pointed out the lack of athleticism in the Pistons’ frontcourt. Do you accept that as a problem? Does that diminish in any way what Monroe and Jerebko, for instance, bring to the frontcourt? Would Singler, if he comes back from Europe, help in that area? Is this something coach Frank agrees with and would draft to overcome?

Langlois: Would Frank agree that the Pistons do not match up athletically with some, or even many, NBA teams? Yes. Would he concede that lacking elite athleticism impedes winning? Nope. As it relates to defense, and shot-blocking in particular, Frank says that many times the league’s top shot-blockers play for some of the worst defensive teams. He says there are many other ways to play defense effectively besides blocking shots. All of that said, having an athletic big man gives a coach more arrows in his quiver when it comes to plotting defensive strategy. The Pistons naturally go into the 2012 draft looking for a big man, preferably an athletic one who can help them defensively with athleticism even as he’s figuring out the nuances of NBA team defense. Monroe and Jerebko, by the way, are both good athletes – they’re just not jump-out-of-the-gym types. Jerebko, Arnie Kander said, was far and away the best athlete of anyone he tested among the 70 or so prospects the Pistons brought to Auburn Hills leading to the 2009 draft. Too often we think of athleticism only as the ability to run fast and jump high. It’s a lot more than that, but the Pistons would be happy to add somebody who runs fast and jumps high – as long as they can play a little basketball, too. Singler is a pure basketball player, but he isn’t regarded as an athletic wing.

Eric (Lansing, Mich.): If the Pistons can’t draft Arnett Moultrie, they should go for Tyler Zeller. I think they both would help from the standpoint that both are competitive, tough players.

Langlois: Moultrie and Zeller are probably pretty close to opposite ends of the spectrum as far as their pro possibilities, Eric. Zeller is the safer pick but doesn’t have Moultrie’s upside. Moultrie and Meyers Leojnard are potentially the biggest wild cards in the draft. If Moultrie works out, tests and interviews well, it wouldn’t surprise me if he rockets his way into the top 10. If he doesn’t fare that well in those areas, he could go the other way just as fast. Mississippi State was a dysfunctional mess the past few seasons and nobody’s really sure if Moultrie was part of the problem or part of the reason they still managed to win some big games. But NBA teams are about to spare no expense or amount of work to find out. Zeller’s numbers were outstanding this year for Carolina and that’s doubly impressive because he was playing with perhaps four other lottery picks (Henson, Barnes and Marshall this year and McAdoo down the road).

Aaron (Reno, Nev.): I understand why the Pistons didn’t want to tank at the end of the season by letting our stars rest and giving young players more experience. So is there a chance the Pistons will trade their lottery pick for a more experienced big man? I don’t believe Henson, Sullinger or the Zellers are the answer.

Langlois: Cody Zeller isn’t in the draft, Aaron, but everything I’ve heard from NBA personnel evaluators is that had the Indiana freshman come out he would have been gone before the Pistons would have had a shot at him barring a leap into the top three. It’s not much of a stretch to believe the Pistons could have their choice among Henson, Sullinger, Tyler Zeller and other big men. Of course they would be open to a trade that helps them, but keep in mind that the Pistons will almost surely be over the salary cap when the new league year starts, so any trade would have to include a like salary in addition to the draft pick. I think it’s a real long shot that they find the right match to make it work.

Terrance (Detroit): Would Joe Dumars consider trading our No. 1 pick to Utah for Derrick Favors?

Langlois: That’s a great question, Terrance. My guess is most teams picking in the lottery would give up their pick for Favors. He’s about as perfect a physical specimen as you’d want and he won’t be 21 until July – that makes him younger than many of the big men we’re talking about as possibilities for the Pistons this year. He hasn’t had a huge impact yet, but he was a big part of Utah’s frontcourt rotation this season despite playing behind two quality veterans in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and alongside last year’s No. 3 pick, Enes Kanter. I doubt Utah would have interest in making the deal, although the dispensation of Golden State’s pick could alter their thinking. The Warriors keep their No. 1 pick if it’s in the top seven; Utah gets it if it’s lower than that. Also, keep this in mind: Favors was the key piece when Utah traded away Deron Williams last season. So Jazz management obviously regards him highly and has a significant stake in his success.

Alfred (Ishpeming, Mich.): It seems extremely hard to trade for quality big men. The best bet might be the draft. Do you think Meyers Leonard would be a good fit for the Pistons?

Langlois: On paper, he’s a great fit – a very athletic 7-footer with an NBA body. But there are some significant questions about Leonard, who had issues with productivity and consistency at Illinois despite those obvious physical gifts. There are still more than two months to go before the draft, though, and teams might satisfy themselves that those questions can be explained between now and then. It was pretty clear Illinois had very little chemistry this season, so maybe Leonard will be viewed in a kinder light because of the team’s struggles by some. At this point, I’d still lean toward the 8-10 range being a little high for Leonard, but stay tuned. A few dazzling workouts will generate momentum for him as the draft process plays out.

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