Pistons Mailbag - Thursday, April 12, 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.

Page 1 | Page 2

Benjamin (Detroit): If Ben Wallace is really retiring the Pistons should find a starting-caliber power forward to play next to Greg Monroe. It looks like we are two big men away from being as competitive as we were. JaVale McGee spent his childhood in Michigan. Will he be an option?

Langlois: McGee will be a restricted free agent, Benjamin. Denver had the nucleus of a good team. After using Nene to get McGee, it’s unlikely the Nuggets are going to let him walk away. The only way Denver would be scared away from matching an offer sheet is if the numbers get crazy, as they certainly could for a young 7-footer with McGee’s undeniable ability. I don’t think the Pistons will have a shot at the bidding on McGee because, barring unforeseen circumstances, they just won’t have the type of cap space needed to do so.

Desmond (Laguna Beach, Calif.): What makes Meyers Leonard a mid- to late first-rounder? I understand the fact he lacks toughness, physically and mentally, at the moment and is rather inconsistent. But he is skilled, a good passer, a good athlete, can run the floor and is a post presence we need beside Monroe. He might be a risky pick, but I see Perry Jones, John Henson and Jared Sullinger being risky picks, too.

Langlois: You’re right, Desmond. The list of sure things once you get past Anthony Davis is slim. Leonard is one of many intriguing prospects that make this a potentially terrific draft class. What has him projected as late lottery and beyond? Well, you made the case. There hasn’t been terrific production in college, where he might have played against one or two players all season with his combination of size and ability, and when you’re less than a dominant player as a college 7-footer, there are reasons to be concerned about how he’ll flourish in the NBA. But keep this in mind: When you see Leonard slotted to go in the middle of the first round, that’s based on a consensus of opinions. It only takes one NBA general manager sitting in the top 10 to change Leonard’s draft outlook. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes that high – not predicting it, just wouldn’t be surprised.

Darren (Manchester, England): Most top 10 picks aren’t even really good NBA players. In this draft, if you aren’t picking in the top five you should be thrilled to get a decent rotation player. Davis, Drummond, Kidd-Gilchrist, Beal and Robinson won’t be falling that far. Should Joe D be content with a “safe” pick like Tyler Zeller? He’s a guaranteed rotation player and should at least be serviceable.

Langlois: Who’s going to guarantee it, Darren? I get what you’re saying, but people were saying the same thing a few years ago about Cole Aldrich. The book isn’t closed on him yet, and he’s obviously playing behind some really good veteran big men in Oklahoma City, but you’d probably have a hard time finding anyone who’d “guarantee” that Aldrich is going to be a solid rotation player at any point of his NBA career. Evaluating a guy like Zeller on his own merits is tricky business because none of these guys play in a vacuum. You have to take the player you feel best about having a likelihood for a successful NBA career, and that includes his skill set, his mindset and everything in between.

Cam (Melbourne, Australia): To me, Markieff Morris is the next Rasheed Wallace. He looks capable of playing tough defense and has range for a big man. He should be the priority for the Pistons this off-season to pair with Monroe. What are your thoughts?

Langlois: He’s from Philadelphia and he can shoot it from pretty deep for a big guy. I wouldn’t go any farther than that with the Wallace comparison, though. I’d love to see them stand side by side – Rasheed appeared much bigger to me than Morris does. I don’t know that Morris will ever have anything close to Wallace’s defensive impact or his feel for the game. What would it take to get Morris away from Phoenix? There probably isn’t a logical trade fit at this point if the Pistons aren’t willing to include one of Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey or their No. 1 pick. And I doubt they would do so.

Darius (Dublin, Ireland): Arnie Kander has experience working with Austin Daye to add strength. Do you think he can help John Henson, who has the same weakness? If Henson manages to hit 230 pounds, I think he can be a serviceable player and a good frontcourt partner for Greg Monroe.

Langlois: Tough to say. I’m not sure even Arnie would know without getting a good evaluation of Henson behind him. My initial thought is that Henson presents an even more challenging case because his NBA position, more than likely, is going to be power forward. Daye, at 6-foot-11, is probably best suited to small forward and has even played at shooting guard, positions where strength, while still important, isn’t needed to quite the degree it is to be battling constantly for post and rebounding position. I like Henson a great deal, but the question of how much strength he will need – and how much he has the capacity to add – is a big one.

Juan (Las Vegas): After a couple of bad games, the Pistons might slip to seventh or sixth in the lottery. If they do, who do you think they should get in the draft?

Langlois: Going into Thursday night games, Juan, the Pistons were No. 8. I’m still guessing they’ll finish in the eighth or ninth position heading into the May 30 lottery. Anthony Davis, Thomas Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Andre Drummond are the surest bets to be off the board. It also seems likely that Bradley Beal will be gone. It’s a 50-50 call after that among Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones, John Henson and perhaps one or two others..

Page 1 | Page 2