The Detroit Pistons have been noticing things. Over the last decade the NBA game has swung heavily in favor of the wing position – big, athletic guards who can handle the ball, run the floor, and shoot the rock. On Thursday, the Pistons made sure they filled their need for that type of player.
“It was a position we knew we had to fill,” President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars told NBA.com. “When you look at the game today, you see more of the wing-athletic-shooters and you have to have that. It was time for us to address that.”
The Pistons selected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, a 6 foot, 6 inch shooting guard out of the University of Georgia. Is he good? He was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year as a sophomore, which led to him bolting the college ranks for the pros.
But even though he’s only 20 years old, Pope has a well-rounded game, one that will instantly make the Pistons more athletic on both ends of the floor. In some ways he might hark back to the championship eras of the “Go to Work” and “Bad Boys” teams of Detroit’s past.
“I love to defend, it keeps me patient and let’s my game come to my, as far as the offensive end,” Pope said during his interviews with the media in the NBA Combine in May.
“In this draft,” Dumars explained to the Detroit press corps on Friday, “we wanted to get more athletic, we wanted to get tougher, and we wanted to add shooting.”
With Pope they got all three. In the second round, Detroit got defense in the form of a leaper named Tony Mitchell. Not since Dennis Rodman have the Pistons had a player with such spring in his legs. Mitchell, who starred for North Texas, has a 38-inch vertical leap that enables the forward to defend the rim like few his size in the NBA.
Later in the 2nd round, with the 56th selection in the draft, Dumars snatched Peyton Siva, the savvy point guard of the Louisville Cardinals, the reigning NCAA champions. Siva, at 6 foot and 1 inch, is all heart and smarts. He has a motor that doesn’t seem to stop and he gives Detroit an option at point guard that they haven’t had – a true ball handler who can distribute the basketball.
In an NBA where teams frequently swap players between positions, have wing players handling the ball, and go small for long stretches of the game, the Pistons are quickly trying to retool their team to compete. Burgeoning star Greg Monroe is a center who likes to play with his back to the basket, and young big man Andre Drummond is also menacing down low. If the Pistons can sperad the floor with athletic players like Pope, Mitchell, Siva, and returning swing guard Brandon Knight, they can force opposing teams to single-team the big fellas.
Dumars had a big smile on his face as he talked about how he played it cool prior to the draft in regards to wanting Pope. You get the sense that maybe Joe D feels he got a great player at the #8 spot in the draft. Summer league starts next week, and come this fall, we’ll get a chance to see if the Pistons three young players can help the team get back on the right track. With some more athletic players on their side, the Pistons will at least be playing the same game everyone else is for a change.