Posted Friday, June 26, 2009Versatile forwards up Pistons’ athleticism
If Orlando is indeed the team to chase in the Eastern Conference now, then the Pistons’ draft was one that gives them the type of defensively flexibility to match what makes Orlando such a unique offensive team – two interchangeable, rangy forwards in Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis that can handle the ball and step out to the 3-point line. Austin Daye
, DaJuan Summers
and Jonas Jerebko
might be in various stages of development, but they all give the Pistons the flexibility to mix and match.
Daye, the 15th pick, might not be ready to play early next season. He’s only 20 and he needs to gain strength, at least, if not necessarily bulk. But scouts who watched him were unanimous in marveling at his skill level, his ability to shoot beyond the NBA 3-point line, and even his ability to put the ball on the floor and create shots for himself.
There are natural concerns that at 192 pounds spread over a 6-foot-11 frame – Daye measured one-quarter inch short of that at the Chicago combine – that Daye will prove too frail to hold up in the NBA.
Daye is probably ticketed to spend most of his minutes at small forward, at least initially, but he could easily grow into more of a full-time power forward. But the Pistons make sure strength coach Arnie Kander is heavily involved in all predraft individual workouts and Joe Dumars said he had several conversations with Kander specifically about Daye and his ability to add strength.
“We met several times about Daye, just about his body, about the ability to get stronger at that size – 6-10, 6-11,” he said. “If Arnie looks at me and tells me that, hey, listen, I don’t think I can help put weight on this guy, he’s not that kind of kid, I don’t know if that would have stopped me from making the pick but it would have given me a little bit more pause.
“And we feel very comfortable that we can get this kid a lot stronger and that was very important to us.”
Summers really has an NBA body, measuring 6-foot-8 ½ and a solid 243 at the Chicago combine.
Early in Georgetown’s season, Summers was outstanding and looked like he was a lottery candidate. But the Hoyas faded over the season’s second half and Summers suffered along with them.
But I talked to George David, Pistons personnel director, specifically about Summers earlier this week – he was convinced Summers would be gone in the middle 20s – and he said that it’s tough for NBA personnel evaluators to get a handle on Georgetown players and that even Hoyas coach John Thompson III has told him as much because of the Princeton offense he employs.
Summers projects to be a very good open-court player and he does have nice form on his jump shot with range beyond the college 3-point line. He can handle the ball well and appears to be an explosive athlete.
Michael Curry compared Daye to Orlando’s Lewis, which is interesting, because Lewis is also a player that was referenced by scouts throughout the season as they were assessing Summers.
Daye grew up in Southern California – his dad, Darren Daye, was a terrific player at UCLA who spent five seasons in the NBA – and he said Thursday night that he has always followed the career of Tayshaun Prince and sees similarities in their games.
And the Pistons’ third pick of the night, Swede Jonas Jerebko, on an ESPN.com chat during the draft, said the one NBA player he considers himself most like is … Tayshaun Prince.
So whether it was the grand design or not, the Pistons wound up with three extremely versatile forwards, all of them capable of handling the ball, shooting perimeter jumpers and guarding power forwards – at least when Daye bulks up and Jerebko gets a little more experience under his belt.
But Jerebko really might not be that far away. He’s 22 and has a pretty well developed frame at 220 pounds. He’s also thought to be a more physical player than the typical European. And the one thing that’s said consistently about him is he’s a surprisingly good athlete. His father is an American citizen who played college basketball here and then settled in Sweden, where he played professionally, so he’s probably a little more Americanized than most Euros.
Pistons VP Scott Perry said when Jerebko worked out for the Pistons, he measured in at slightly better than 6-foot-10 and his athleticism stood out.
Perry reiterated the theme, too – all three of these guys are not only versatile enough to play both spots, the most notable thing they do is up the athleticism of the roster.
Jerebko will be a part of the Pistons’ Summer League team in Las Vegas and Perry said he wouldn’t rule it out that all three of the picks could be on the roster. Throw in Deron Washington, last year’s No. 2 pick and a terrific 6-foot-7 athlete who can guard shooting guards and small forwards, and the Pistons could be a significantly sleeker team next season.
Chase Budinger, the player the Pistons selected with the last of their three second-rounders at 44, was shipped to Houston for cash and a future second-rounder. They won’t get it until 2012 at the earliest. It has some protections on it, Perry said.