Pistons go high tech at NBA draft combine and meet with a heavy dose of point guards

CHICAGO – The Pistons have gone cutting edge at the combine.

Several players who said they interviewed with the Pistons talked of being outfitted with a virtual-reality headset to gauge their ability to make the right reads and decisions.

“They didn’t really ask any tricky questions,” Kansas point guard Devonte Graham said of his interview with the Pistons. “They did a virtual reality where I was like in the headphones and goggles and I was making plays – see if you made the right reads and stuff like that. It was cool.”

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle, SMU’s Shake Milton, Penn State’s Tony Carr, Arizona’s Rawle Alkins and Saginaw native Brian Bowen – who started his freshman season at Louisville and transferred to South Carolina but didn’t play – all said they, too, were outfitted with virtual-reality headgear. Nobody reported a similar testing experience with another NBA team.

“I met with Detroit earlier this morning,” Carr said. “They definitely did some interesting virtual-reality testing things just to kind of figure out your decision making and things like that (with) the 3-D glasses. It was pretty cool. I actually watched my little brother play with them but I’ve never used them myself.”

Carr and Graham believed they came through the VR test with flying colors.

“I definitely passed,” Graham said. “I liked it. You press a button and it was like guys coming off screen and roll or if you were on defense, what should you do?”

“You can see the court, but you don’t really feel like you’re on the court unless you’re on the court,” Carr said. “But it definitely gave you a sense of it. They told me I did pretty well.”

Milton also said he got positive feedback for his trial run.

“That was different. I’d never done that before,” he said. “You had to pick the right answer. Basically, it was like a mini-test. I did well. Got ’em all right, for the most part. It’s basically testing your basketball IQ and how you’d react in certain situations.”

Battle said he’d never used VR technology and found it challenging at first.

“I think I did pretty good,” he said. “I was a little confused at first. It’s a little different. It’s pretty cool, though. I really liked it. I’ve seen it on TV with video games and stuff like that. I’m a big video-game player, so I was excited to try it on.”

The Pistons won’t have a first-round pick in the June 21 draft – it goes to the Clippers to complete the Blake Griffin trade – but they’ll pick in the second round at No. 42 overall. Maybe because there are a number of intriguing point guards who’ll be available in that range or maybe because Ish Smith is entering the final year of his contract and Reggie Jackson has only two years left on his deal, but it appears the Pistons met with a heavy dose of point guards or combo guards.

Among those who play the position and say they either already interviewed with the Pistons or have an interview scheduled with them were Graham, Carr, West Virginia’s Jevon Carter and Duke’s Trevon Duval. Milton can play both backcourt positions and Battle is seen as a shooting guard/small forward.

General manager Jeff Bower leads the Pistons scouting contingent at the combine. Also spotted at the Quest Multisport Complex on Chicago’s west side were associate general manager Pat Garrity, assistant GM Jeff Nix, director of player personnel Adam Glessner, assistant coach Charles Klask and strength coach Jordan Sabourin.

The Pistons are conducting searches for both a front-office leader and a head coach to succeed Stan Van Gundy, who was released from the final year of the five-year contract he signed with the Pistons in May 2014.