Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, June 21, 2012

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.

We reserve the right to edit your question for the sake of brevity or clarity.

Kevin (Saginaw, Mich.): I read a story that said the Pistons might have made a draft promise to Arnett Moultrie. Anything to that?

Langlois: Of all the harebrained rumors circulating out there, this one takes the cake. I think Moultrie is under consideration for them with the No. 9 pick, but so are a number of other players. We knew coming out of Chicago that John Henson said he was working out for the Pistons on June 25, three days before the draft. It was logical to conclude that at least a few other high-profile big men would be working out against him. Now, various media reports have stated that Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, Meyers Leonard, Perry Jones III and Terrence Jones also will work out for the Pistons that day. To believe they’ve promised Moultrie is to believe that a workout with six lottery candidates is a ruse. And that would be foolhardy, given the bridges that would be burned not only with some of the game’s most powerful agents but also with players who someday will be free agents. The Pistons would have to believe Moultrie the equal of Anthony Davis to risk the blowback that a promise to him at the expense of all other parties would have.

Tiba (Detroit): Since the Wizards just traded for Okafor, do you think it’s possible – or even a good idea – to trade for Andray Blatche?

Langlois: Blatche spent the last several weeks of last season listed as “DNP-Conditioning” on Washington’s box scores last season. He’s got more than $23 million coming in the next three years. It will be really tough for Washington to move him until he shows up in camp in tip-top shape and gives some indication that he’s put himself in position to earn that money. I’d think any team that trades for him would want to see the proof of that.

Nathan (FOB Salerno, Afghanistan): Do the Pistons or anyone else have interest in Fab Melo of Syracuse? I haven’t heard a word about him since he declared for the draft.

Langlois: Melo is generally predicted to go somewhere in the 20s, Nathan. I don’t believe he has a shot to go in the lottery and he’s most unlikely to fall out of the first round. That makes him unlikely to be drafted by the Pistons unless they do some wheeling and dealing on draft night that gives them a pick somewhere in the 20s. Stay safe in Afghanistan. I’ll take the liberty of speaking for Pistons fans everywhere in thanking you for your service.

Mike (Detroit): Who do you think the Pistons will pick at No. 9? I keep seeing Henson, but I don’t think we are working him out. Leonard or Moultrie? If Drummond is there at 9, is he a lock for us?

Langlois: Follow draft coverage at our Draft Central page, Mike. Not sure where you got the notion the Pistons wouldn’t bring in Henson for a workout, but he made it public that he would be working out in Auburn Hills on Monday, three days before the draft. I don’t think there’s anyone more likely than Henson to be the pick, but there are so many candidates that it would be overstating it to call anyone the favorite. I think there’s a small chance that Drummond slides to No. 9, maybe 10 to 20 percent. He wouldn’t be an automatic pick, but he’d surely be strongly considered. Even with full acknowledgement of his potential to bust, it would be hard to pass on him at that spot.

Donna (Southfield, Mich.): I find myself torn. I really like Henson and feel he’s very coachable and will complement Greg Monroe. But I can’t get over the feeling the Pistons will regret not taking Meyers Leonard. I feel he has the qualities to be a top center and when is the last time the Pistons have had one of those? Bob Lanier? What’s your opinion?

Langlois: Ben Wallace and Bill Laimbeer might like a word with you, Donna. As for Henson vs. Leonard, it’s not an easy decision. The question with Leonard, to me, isn’t the ones you hear most often, about his focus or maturity. I just wonder about his feel for the game. Scouts who’ve pored over every game tape and seen him in person a number of times will have a much better idea on that count, but it’s still largely a projection. It comes down to whether you think that a player who just turned 20, comes from a small-town background and played on a largely dysfunctional Illinois team last year really had little chance to exhibit great feel for the game last season, or whether that’s something that should have revealed itself more frequently no matter his environment.

Ryan (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Most of the mock drafts out there have Perry Jones III and Arnett Moultrie falling a little bit. Getting both with Houston’s picks would be huge. Would Houston go for 9, 44 and Austin Daye for 14 and 16?

Langlois: If the Rockets like somebody at 9 they’re virtually certain won’t be available at 14, sure. If they see in Daye the same things the Pistons still believe are possible for him, sure. No way to know either of those things, though. I think Houston is sitting in a good spot, but that’s only true if you believe in the depth of this draft. Going in, it sure appears there will be two rotation-worthy players still on the board at 14 and 16, perhaps even a potential star. But history tells us that in three or four years, half of what we think today will be proven wrong – or headed that way, at least. For instance, there is a high degree or probability that two or three of the seven big men we’ve just profiled as possibilities for the Pistons at 9 will fail to live up to expectations, that another two or three will develop into players somewhere just above, at or just below the median level of production, and that perhaps one or two will become true difference makers. So only if you believe strongly that almost all of them will hit it big would you casually trade down from 9 – where I think at least five and potentially all seven will still be available – to 14, where perhaps the one or two who have stars in their future will be gone.

Tara (South Lyon, Mich.): I know the draft is far from an exact science, but out of Meyers Leonard, John Henson, Arnett Moultrie and Perry Jones III, who do you like best and who are you most concerned about?

Langlois: I’ve liked Henson since I saw the way he affected games with his length midway through his sophomore season. I wonder if he had entered the 2011 NBA draft, as he was largely expected to do, if he would have been picked by the Pistons at No. 8 a year ago. (That’s a question even the Pistons couldn’t answer, by the way, because Henson, by not entering the draft, didn’t subject himself to the testing, interviewing and workouts he would have had to endure to inform their decision.) But they’re all intriguing. Leonard is just plain huge and his athleticism is enticing. Illinois was a mess last year, yet Leonard played his best basketball down the stretch when the Illini were still making a tournament push. Moultrie, on paper at least, sure fits the bill for what the Pistons most need next to Greg Monroe. And Jones oozes potential – the one player of the group most likely to become a highlight-reel staple.

Ben (Middletown, Conn.): I believe Jae Crowder will be a second-round steal if the Pistons draft him, yet he wasn’t invited to workouts. He reminds me of Kenneth Faried. What do you think are our chances of drafting Crowder?

Langlois: The Pistons caught Crowder’s group workout hosted by the Brooklyn Nets, Ben, and he told reporters in Chicago they interviewed him for 30 minutes at that event and he felt it went very well. Crowder spoke in Chicago about the comparisons to Faried and he became animated in expressing his dismay at the comparison. “I try to end that quickly,” he said when talking about teams bringing up the comparison. “I feel like I’m disrespecting him because he’s done more than I have done. He’s in the NBA; I’m trying to get to the NBA.” He thinks the comparison is a lazy one because of their similar hairstyles, but he acknowledges that they’re both energy players. In talking to Marquette players at the combine the past three years – Lazar Hayward in 2010, Jimmy Butler in 2011 and Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom this year – it’s easy to see why Buzz Williams has extended the success Tom Crean experienced there. They’re tough, tough players who understand their place in the big picture and are willing to sacrifice for team success.

Marshall (Detroit): Joe Dumars did a great job in last year’s draft. Will he draft a shooting guard in the second round this year, somebody like Kevin Murphy or Kim English, perhaps?

Langlois: We’ll be taking a look at second-round perimeter possibilities on Tuesday next week, Marshall, as the True Blue Pistons 14-part draft series continues. Both Murphy and English are on that last. Murphy was among the list of 15 names the Pistons released last week as having worked out for them in Auburn Hills. English told the media at the Chicago draft combine that he, too, had worked out for them. Two interesting prospects, Murphy a prolific small-school scorer and English with the potential to develop into a premier off-the-bench 3-point specialist.

John (Farmington Hills, Mich.): What would it take for the Pistons to get another draft pick between 10 and 15 so that they could get two big guys? How about trading next year’s pick?

Langlois: In general, I’m not a fan of trading away future No. 1 picks unless it’s the sweetener in a package that delivers a game-changing player. Joe Dumars packaged two No. 1 picks with expiring contracts in the 2004 trade-deadline deal for Rasheed Wallace, which won an NBA title for the Pistons and came really close to producing a second. But at the time he made that trade, he knew neither first-rounder was going to be a lottery pick. More specifically with regard to this draft, it’s possible a team would consider a trade that fits your general parameters this year because the early consensus is that this draft is of better quality than 2013 figures to be. But I don’t much trust draft projections that far out.

Ken (Ankara, Turkey): Are we to read anything into the order of your Draft Central lineup – for example, do you think the first person you profiled will be the one you think will be there and would be the best fit? Would you give us a shorter, more compact list of players you think would be good choices for the second round, also?

Langlois: Make absolutely nothing of the way I ordered the seven big men we’ve profiled – Arnett Moultrie, Meyers Leonard, Perry Jones III, Jared Sullinger, John Henson, Tyler Zeller and Terrence Jones. They were ordered randomly, nothing more, nothing less. The last four segments of the 14-part draft series we’ll roll out will all focus on second-round possibilities – one on a group of players who might fall to pick 39, one on perimeter players who figure to be under consideration at 39 and 44, another on big men at those draft spots, and a fourth on international prospects in the second round.

Bob (Lancaster, Calif.): Of the big men probably available for the Pistons to draft at No. 9, which one do you believe would be the best fit next to Greg Monroe?

Langlois: Without making you work too hard, Bob, the easiest way to answer that is to suggest you read the draft profiles we've done on the seven big men we identified as potential targets. You can find them all at our Draft Central page. The tricky issue for Joe D and his staff in making this choice is to strike the right balance. As I wrote in my recent True Blue Pistons blog “A Tough Call,” it isn’t merely about finding the best player or the best fit – but the combination of best talent and compatibility, among other factors.