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Pistons predraft wrap-up: Evaluating Detroit’s top ten prospects

With the NBA Draft less than a week away, the Detroit Pistons have just about covered all of their bases.

After working out likely top-ten picks Justise Winslow and Stanley Johnson earlier in the week, Detroit went on a binger, wrapping up their predraft workouts by hosting shooting guard Devin Booker and forwards Kelly Oubre, Myles Turner, and Frank Kaminsky on consecutive days as a means of getting a solid grasp on what each potential prospect is bringing to the table.

The Pistons currently hold the eighth selection in the first round of next Thursday’s draft (7:00 p.m., ESPN) but with the uncertainty of how the top picks will shake out, alongside the realistic possibility of the Pistons trading down, they’ve made a point of working out virtually any player mocked to go within the top 20 selections who loosely fit their needs (shooting, small forward).

Frank Kaminsky
Frank Kaminsky

Here’s a look at Detroit’s top visitors during the official workout period (in order by most recent workout date):

  • Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin (June 20): Kaminsky’s chances of landing in Detroit were slim to start. Now, they’ve been further trivialized by the recent acquisition of stretch-forward Ersan Ilyasova. Kaminsky is relatively agile for his seven-foot frame and he was an excellent shooter in college, but questions remain about his transition to the pros, particularly in regards to his ability to matchup with quicker, stronger power forwards defensively. Pistons Draft Status: Pretender
  • Myles Turner, Texas (June 20): A solid rebounder and rim protector, but questions abound elsewhere. The six-foot-eleven 19-year-old manages a capable mid-range game but is still looking for consistency in other offensive elements. Moreover, he reportedly struggles with foul trouble and defending the pick & roll, both of which could present a problem in Detroit, where it may make little sense for the team to take a risk on an unproven big when more pressing needs exist elsewhere. Pistons Draft Status: Pretender
  • Kelly Oubre, Kansas (June 19): Oubre fits right into the mold of athletic, long-bodied small forward prospect gauged largely off of potential more than results to this point. “A lot of people said they hadn’t seen me dribble, so I’ve been working on my handle, getting it tight,” Oubre told reporters following his workout. “My decision making. I’ve improved my shot a lot. I’m more consistent right now.” Per DraftExpress: “Once his frame fills out (he has plenty of room to add another 10-15 pounds, if not more) and he figures out how to play with the same type of intensity level on every possession, he has a   chance to be an absolute handful on this end of the floor, as long as he puts his mind to it.” Not necessarily the glowing endorsement one would prefer to hear. Pistons Draft Status: Contender
  • Devin Booker, Kentucky (June 18): A Grand Rapids product, Booker diverges from the Pistons’ predicted draft plan of selecting a small forward or stretch four. At 6-foot-6 with questionable defensive instincts, Booker seems locked in as a career two-guard. However, his propensity to shoot the lights out (41.1% from three at Kentucky with 178 of his 200 shots in the half-court coming from beyond the arc) has made him a favorite of the Detroit Free Press’ Drew Sharp. With the Pistons likely to pursue a starting small forward in free agency, could drafting a knock-down shooting guard make sense? Pistons Draft Status: Contender
  • Justise Winslow, Duke (June 16): The Pistons are currently expected to be the basement in terms of draft expectations for Winslow heading into next Thursday; most mock drafts have him going sixth or higher. If he were to fall to the eighth selection, there’s little doubt Detroit would take a flier on Winslow, who fits the profile of one of their biggest needs: a versatile small forward who can defend. Pistons Draft Status: Primary Target

    Stanley Johnson
    Stanley Johnson
  • Stanley Johnson, Arizona (June 15): Johnson stands as one of the Pistons’ most likely options at #8, in terms of fit and availability. He boasts an NBA-ready frame (6-foot-7, 242 pounds) and the capability of hitting from outside, though translating that range to the NBA line is not always an absolute (he shot 37% from deep in college). One of Johnson’s biggest draws, like Winslow, may be his defensive versatility, becoming of increasing importance in today’s floor-spreading NBA offenses. Pistons Draft Status: Primary Target
  • Sam Dekker, Wisconsin (June 13): Dekker strikes most as a “trade down” situation for Detroit. As in, only in the event of the Pistons dealing their #8 pick for one in the teens would Dekker likely become a possibility. He’s scrappy and does a bit of everything; he’s more than willing to clean the glass, run the floor, and generally fill in the blanks. Questions remain regarding shooting consistency and ball-handling. Pistons Draft Status: Pretender
  • Bobby Portis, Arkansas (June 6): At 6-foot-11, Portis stands as another prospect that’d likely stand as an Andre Drummond back-up more than anything else at this point. A bundle of energy, Portis can shoot, but not well enough to be considered a legitimate floor-stretcher. As a result, he’s more of the traditional big man ilk, with a solid jump hook to boot. Barring a trade down and re-shuffling of priorities, he won’t come into play for Detroit on draft day. Pistons Draft Status: Pretender
  • Mario Hezonja, Spain: On account of Hezonja’s season overseas still ongoing, he did not perform in any official workouts for NBA teams. The 19-year-old’s athleticism and shooting acumen appear high-level via mixtape, but his stock has fluctuated as NBA teams attempt to gauge just how well his abilities will translate stateside. Standing at 6-foot-8, he appears to be a worthy risk as a means of filling the Pistons gap at the three – if he’s still available. Pistons Draft Status: Primary Target

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9R05d01sRE

  • Kristaps Porzingis, Latvia: The hype is strong with this one. Pistons brass visited Europe to see Porzingis (and Hezonja) first hand. Despite liberal use of the “p” word (potential), Porzingis’ stock has soared, as the seven-foot small forward is now believed to be well out of Detroit’s reach, peaking as high as third overall in recent mock drafts. Pistons Draft Status: Won’t Make it to Eight
Second Round Hopefuls (Pistons hold 38th pick)
  • Rakeem Christmas, Syracuse (June 9): Christmas is older than four-year NBA veteran Brandon Knight, so this is a case of “what you see is what you get”. But with a 7’5” wingspan and a full college career’s worth of experience, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for the Pistons to take a chance on Christmas to see if he could serve as a potential reserve up front.
  • Terran Petteway, Nebraska: The 6-foot-6 Petteway had two workouts for the Pistons, which could be interpreted a couple of ways. Either the Pistons are legitimately interested in Petteway’s services in the second round or they just wanted a wily defender on tap to push their other prospects to the limit during workouts. Then again, it could have been a little bit of both. Petteway struggled from deep in college but as a second round pick with a disruptive 6’10” wingspan, he could carve out a niche as a defensive specialist.
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