With no team to coach yet, Dwane Casey rolls up his sleeves and dives into the draft process

Dwane Casey
Dwane Casey has spent the bulk of his time this spring looking at video of potential Pistons draft picks and huddling remotely with front-office personnel
David Dow (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

A month into the NBA shutdown, Ed Stefanski had experienced enough of remote working with a scattered staff to know the Pistons would be as prepared as they needed to be for an off-season of critical decisions.

“We’re doing a ton,” he said. “Honestly, I can say with all of us living in different areas and not going into the office, we’re getting a lot of work done and maybe as much and more done.”

A month later, one of the reasons Stefanski might feel he has more of a handle on an off-season road map so early in the process is that he’s had an extra pair of eyes on the case. Dwane Casey doesn’t usually have time to devote to poring over college game tape until closer to the draft, but this year he’s as well versed on lottery prospects as Stefanski, personnel director Gregg Polinsky and their stable of scouts.

“We do a lot of it on telephone or video among the front office,” Casey said Thursday night on a Fox Sports Detroit Facebook Live roundtable with his Tigers and Red Wings counterparts, Ron Gardenhire and Jeff Blaishill, hosted by Matt Shepard. “Myself and Ed Stefanski talk about every day. We’ll bring different people in, scouts in, and talk about certain players. We’re getting all the intelligence. We know what color their bathroom is to what their favorite music is. We get every bit of information to go with the guys we’re looking at.”

The Pistons don’t know where they’ll be drafting yet – or when the draft might actually take place. The NBA has yet to announce any shift from its scheduled June 25 date for the draft, though last month it postposed both the NBA draft combine and draft lottery, both of which were scheduled for next week in Chicago. The Pistons stood in the No. 5 draft lottery slot with a 20-46 record at the time the season was suspended on March 11.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver was reported earlier this week to have told owners that he expected a decision coming within two to four weeks on plans for the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Whatever that looks like is likely to determine how the NBA configures its off-season schedule for the draft and free agency. Like Stefanski, Casey will feel prepared for the draft whether it comes in late June or a few months later.

“For me, it’s fun to go through this process,” he said. “We have all the time in the world. I’ve watched more college games in the last month than I have anything else and talked to college coaches all around the country, which is fun.”

In the meantime, Casey has some words of wisdom for players trying to make an impression on NBA decision-makers when they can’t meet them face to face.

“You can’t do anything wrong because somebody’s watching,” he said. “They’ve got it on video, they’re watching their texts, their Twitter. We’ve got one guy in the personnel department just watching their Twitter accounts, so different things to get as much information as we can about a young man. It’s a long process and, unfortunately, I’m involved more this year than I have been in the past.”

No one knows yet if it will be possible before the draft for teams to have players visit their practice facilities or to meet with them in something other than a virtual format – and even that isn’t allowed at the moment. The personal interaction is something Casey will miss, he said.

“It’s tough for me. I usually get a feel for players when they come into town, go to dinner with them. You watch how they conduct themselves with other people, watch them work out. You don’t make your final decision on that, but you get a good feel for a guy’s character, who he is, by spending a day and a dinner with them.”

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