Pistons select Gonzaga's Austin Daye with No. 15 pick in NBA draft
by A. Sherrod Blakely
Thursday June 25, 2009, 11:00 PM
AUBURN HILLS -- Lanky frame with an impressive wingspan. Considered too skinny to make a major impact in the NBA.
Seven years ago, that was the knock on Tayshaun Prince, who has become one of the top players from the 2002 draft class.
The Pistons hope for a similar result with Austin Daye, a 6-foot-11, 192-pound forward from Gonzaga who Detroit selected with the No. 15 pick in Thursday night's NBA draft.
In addition to Daye, the Pistons also were considering Earl Clark (selected by Phoenix with the No. 14 pick) and Wake Forest's James Johnson, who was taken by Chicago with the No. 16 pick.
"Daye makes Prince look like the Hulk," ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said.
Even in his opening remarks following the pick, Joe Dumars made reference to Daye's lithe frame.
"He is skinnier than Tayshaun," said Dumars, Detroit's president of basketball operations. "But we like his skill set."
Dumars understands why some teams would shy from drafting Daye because of his lack of weight.
But having seen Prince blossom, Dumars was willing to take a chance.
"Watching Tayshaun Prince over the last six or seven years, it lets you know that guys like that can be major factors for your team," Dumars said.
Pistons coach Michael Curry said Daye's ability to shoot from the perimeter and handle the basketball reminds him of Orlando's Rashard Lewis, who played an integral role in the Magic advancing to the NBA Finals this season.
Daye, who turned 21 this month, is accustomed to battling players with more muscle.
"I'm used to it," Daye said. "My dad (Darren Daye, a former NBA player) is a big body. He's wide now. He's old. He's been there. I definitely try to use my ability against them. But if a physical game is what they want, I can do that, too. I may be frail, but I'm a tough kid, and that's why they picked me."
Curry was especially impressed with the way Daye handled himself during his workout for Detroit against stronger players such as Damion James of Texas, Josh Heytvelt of Gonzaga and Taj Gibson of USC.
"He battled and found ways to make sure, instead of arm wrestling matches, he turned it into a skill match," Curry said. "Guys in this draft, in a skill contest, he's going to win a lot of those."
The Pistons were impressed with Daye's talent, but Dumars said Daye's high character also was a factor.
"Two things that I talked to my staff about as soon as the season was over: We had to increase our talent base, and I want character guys every time we take somebody from now on," Dumars said. "With Austin Daye, we cover ourselves with both of those things."
Dumars also acknowledged that this season had more "drama" than any season since he became president of basketball operations in 2000.
"As you know, I put a premium on character and guys that will represent us the right way," Dumars said. "Never again will I allow us to deal with issues like we're dealing with this year. I refuse to go down that road again."
In the second round, Detroit selected DaJuan Summers from Georgetown at No. 35, Jonas Jerebko from Sweden at No. 39, and Arizona's Chase Budinger at No. 44. However, Budinger was traded to Houston for cash considerations and a future second-round pick. Jerebko, whose father, Chris, played at Syracuse University and originally is from Buffalo, N.Y., is likely to stay overseas for another season.
Before Detroit's first-round pick, the draft went pretty much as expected.
To no one's surprise, the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies selected Blake Griffin and Hasheem Thabeet No. 1 and 2, respectively.
Arizona State's James Harden was selected by Oklahoma City at No. 3, and Memphis' Tyreke Evans was chosen by Sacramento at No. 4.
Point guard Ricky Rubio of Spain was the first international player drafted when Minnesota selected him with the No. 5 pick.
The first college senior chosen was Louisville's Terrence Williams when he was selected by the Nets with the No. 11 pick.
PISTONS' DRAFT PICKS
Size: 6-foot-11, 192 pounds
Stats: 12.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 blocks
Scouting report: Exceptional shooter and handles the ball well for his size; ability to beat players off the dribble; needs to gain strength; doesn't finish around the basketball particularly well; has a tendency to settle for jumpshots too often instead of putting it on the floor and pulling up for a mid-range jumper; had 70 blocks last season for Gonzaga -- the third-best single-season mark in program history.
Size: 6-foot-8, 240 pounds
Stats: 13.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists
Scouting report: Has 7-1 wingspan; solid 3-point shooter; turns the ball over a lot; needs to improve his ball-handling skills.
Size: 6-foot-9, 210 pounds
Stats: 9 points, 5.5 rebounds
Scouting report: Better-than-average athlete who has good size for small forward position; solid catch-and-shoot performer; ball-handling skills are questionable; needs to improve on creating his own shot.
CHASE BUDINER (traded to Houston for cash considerations and future secound-round pick)
Size: 6-foot-7, 218 pounds
Stats: 18 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists
Scouting report: Athletic wing player with a high basketball IQ; has good size and better-than-average range from 3-point range; ball-handling skills are questionable; lateral quickness needs work.