While Tuesday’s pre-draft workouts included Indiana’s all-time assists leader and Tobias Harris’ younger brother, the Detroit Pistons’ pre-draft observations actually kicked off last Thursday, when the team brought in six second-round prospects, including a former Spartan.
Barely three weeks ahead of the June 23 draft, here’s a breakdown of Detroit’s first batch of invitees (the Pistons hold the 18th and 49th overall picks).
School: Michigan State
Weight: 245 lbs
Costello hasn’t gotten nearly as much love as fellow MSU senior prospect Denzel Valentine, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be able to find his niche in the league.
Costello is a big body that can set screens and rebound. He’s got an effective offensive game around the basket, but an improved jump shot from 15-20 feet would go far in helping Costello’s land on an NBA roster.
Costello is an inch shorter and about ten pounds lighter than Pistons backup center Aron Baynes. The two have similar games, although Baynes is a better shooter. Coming from the Tom Izzo school of big men, Costello is a hustle player who will bring you 100% energy on every play.
Weight: 190 lbs
Sulaimon, though undersized for a two-guard, is a lock down defender. Aside from his great defense, he can also knock down 3-pointers at a high rate. Over his four-year college career, he shot over 40% from beyond the arc.
Another 3-and-D guy to pair with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson in head coach Stan Van Gundy’s system would make Pistons fans salivate.
The problem with Sulaimon is his limited offensive game. He’s not particularly adept at getting to the basket, and when he does his finishing ability becomes a concern.
In the end, Sulaimon’s NBA career will hinge on his ability to defend and knock down the three. If an NBA team can find a way to make Sulaimon a more well-rounded offensive threat, he could be the steal of the draft.
Weight: 189 lbs
Harrison is a freak athlete who can get above the rim with some of the best in college basketball. His skinny frame is an issue and he’s not a great shooter. He’s a slasher who looks to relentlessly get to the basket and score his points inside.
In order to avoid being just a dunk contest participant in the league, Harrison will have to get his strength up and become a better decision maker with the ball. An improved jump shot and more discipline on the defensive end would do wonders for Harrison’s draft stock and make it easier for him to stick around in the league.
School: Georgia Tech
Weight: 214 lbs
Georges-Hunt is a gifted scorer and his strong build allows him to consistently finish through contact at the rim. He struggles to knock down the 3-point shot, shooting under 35% in his career, but he can still knock it down if left open.
He’s a good defender, and his size prevents him from getting over-powered by other guards. He’s got nice versatility and play making ability which should keep him in the league for a long time.
I don’t see him being a fit for the Pistons because although he can score off the bench, he can’t be trusted to be the primary ball handler at any moment of the game. He’s also not a great athlete despite his size and strength.
Weight: 220 lbs
White is a long wing who can create problems on defense and hit from deep on the other end. He averaged 16.6 points and 5.9 rebounds last season for the Cornhuskers while hitting 41% from the 3-point line.
White isn’t a playmaker for others though, finishing with just 20 total assists last year. He also isn’t a stellar athlete, which hurts his draft stock. He’s got the size you want in a wing, but questions about his strength and quickness have him headed for the second round. A capable defender whose best asset is his length, White will have to improve lateral quickness in order to make a defensive impact immediately.
An intriguing prospect, the Pistons who would probably be more eager to take White if he could facilitate as well as score. Although he would be a fit in their system, there doesn’t seem to be much room for him as the Pistons have plenty of scoring options on the wings.
Weight: 250 lbs
Boone is a big bodied playmaker who averaged nearly 20 points and ten rebounds last year for the Rockets.
In addition to those numbers, Boone shot better than 37% from three and 82% from the free throw line. He is a little big for the stretch four role the Pistons would play him in, which also means he’s too slow. Slimming down would behoove Boone who has a well-rounded offensive game otherwise.
On defense, Boone struggles to stay in front of quicker forwards, and will have an even tougher time on that end in the NBA. However, if he trades some of that extra weight for muscle he could find himself on the radar of a lot of NBA teams.
A lot of second round picks don’t spend more than a few years in the league, but an absolute home run on a second round pick (i.e. Draymond Green) can drastically speed up a team’s ascent into title contention. Hitting on draft picks is even more important for a team like the Pistons who aren’t considered a premier free agent destination.
The Pistons aren’t going to find a starter in the second round this year, but picking up a role player that fills one of their needs will be essential into improving from their playoff season in 2016.