Draft Preview: Malachi Richardson, Malcolm Brogdon

(Editor’s note: The Pistons hold the No. 18 and No. 49 picks in the June 23 NBA draft. We’ll preview one candidate for each pick each Monday through Friday leading up to the draft. Players who are consensus lottery picks unavailable to the Pistons will not be profiled.)


ID CARD: 6-foot-6¼ shooting guard, Syracuse freshman, 20 years old

DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 37th by DraftExpress.com; 13th by ESPN.com; unranked by NBA.com

SCOUTS LOVE: This one’s pretty simple. Scouts love Richardson’s pure scoring ability. Not necessarily a great pure shooter, Richardson’s overwhelming strength is his ability to get the ball in the basket by any means necessary. His size, ballhandling and scoring instincts make him attractive in an era where sophisticated team defense takes away set plays and puts a premium on creative scorers.

SCOUTS WONDER: There isn’t a huge track record for Richardson, who had a solid freshman season at Syracuse and then took off in the NCAA tournament. Even in his big scoring games, Richardson didn’t necessarily score with great efficiency. When he scored 21 points in the second half of an improbable comeback win to beat Virginia in the game that propelled Syracuse to the Final Four, Richardson still shot just 6 of 16 for the game.

NUMBER TO NOTE: .370 – Richardson’s shooting percentage. And, yes, he was a college freshman, but one who turned 20 in early January, making him older than many sophomores. Richardson also had more turnovers than assists. His scoring instincts could make him a fearless off-the-bench scorer – or they could make him the type of player who drags down his teammates as they find themselves standing around and watching Richardson do his thing.

MONEY QUOTE: “Richardson’s stock is red hot at the moment. His measurements (only player shorter than 6-foot-6 [without shoes] with a 7-foot-0 wing span), athletic testing (38-inch max vertical) and interviews all went well. Some teams believe that he’s the best 2-guard prospect in the draft after [Oklahoma’s Buddy] Hield and that he has the rare ability to get his shot anywhere on the floor. His range is now from No. 12-20.” – ESPN.com

PISTONS FIT: As with every other shooting guard we’ve profiled or will for our draft preview series, it’s tough to see the Pistons taking someone at that position given their current roster makeup with four shooting guards (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jodie Meeks, Darrun Hilliard and Reggie Bullock) under contract for next season, plus the presence of Stanley Johnson, Caldwell-Pope’s de facto backup for most of his rookie season. But the Pistons could be confident of making other moves this summer to ease the logjam and open to taking a player regardless of position.

BOTTOM LINE: Stan Van Gundy wants to add scoring punch to his bench unit. That’s Richardson’s calling card. The improvement he showed late in the season at Syracuse has his draft stock as something of a head scratcher at the moment. The Pistons were reported to be one of the teams with which Richardson interviewed at the NBA draft combine earlier this month. It’s fair to say that they’re interested in him for his potential as a scorer. Whether they think he’ll be the best player on the board at 18 is anyone’s guess.

Second-Round Candidate: Malcolm Brogdon

Malcolm Brogdon

ID CARD: 6-foot-5½ shooting guard, Virginia senior, 23 years old

DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 41st by DraftExpress.com; 37th by ESPN.com; 10th among shooting guards by NBA.com

SCOUTS LOVE: Smarts, toughness and a stout defender. There doesn’t appear to be a ton of upside with Brogdon, but there might not be more of a sure thing in the second round – assuming he gets that far – than the Virginia senior who was two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year and the coaches’ pick for national DPOY. With Justin Anderson gone to the NBA, Brogdon took on a greater share of Virginia’s offense as a senior and responded with an 18.2 scoring average on .457 shooting.

SCOUTS WONDER: For all the positive qualities Brogdon oozes, he wouldn’t be the first guy who enjoyed great success in college but simply didn’t have that one outstanding trait to give him a foundation on which to build an NBA career. Maybe Brogdon, a rock solid 223 pounds, will prove himself able to guard all three perimeter positions and the occasional small-ball four and that will be his NBA lifeline.

NUMBER TO NOTE: 24 – that’s how old Brogdon will be a little more than a month into his NBA rookie season, making him older than the three-year Pistons veteran who would be ahead of him at his position, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Brogdon was much stronger and more physically mature than the college shooting guards or small forwards he went up against. He’ll have to adjust against NBA perimeter players.

MONEY QUOTE: “I like him a lot. He’ll get taken late first because he’s not a flashy guy and he’ll be on a good team and play well for a long time and people will say, ‘Why didn’t we take him?’ This kid is more well-rounded than (recent Virginia draftees) Joe Harris or Justin Anderson.” -- Central Division personnel executive as told to David Aldridge of NBA.com

PISTONS FIT: Brogdon’s defensive smarts, frame and strength make him a strong candidate to defend multiple positions, easing concerns about the shooting guard logjam. Stan Van Gundy has talked about the need to improve team defense next season and he values players who can think on their feet. The Pistons picked Darrun Hilliard in the second round last year, another four-year college player with great feel for the game.

BOTTOM LINE: It might be a stretch to expect Brogdon to last past the midway point of the second round, but there could be a slew of teams spending picks from the 20s throughout the draft on international prospects to save cap space and roster spots – and the Pistons could easily fall into that category – for what could be an unprecedented off-season for free agency movement. If that happens, there will be a number of college players who tumble a handful of spots or more. Brogdon is the type of guy who could spend a decade or more in the NBA as a valued role player.