Pistons visit Spain to gauge lottery talents Hezonja, Porzingis

The Detroit Pistons have just a 2.8% chance of landing the top pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. For all intents and purposes, the odds suggest the Pistons will be selecting in no. 8 or no. 9 range, based upon their final record in the 2014-15 regular season.

As a result, that means it’s well past time for president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bowers to lock down and get a collective grasp on this year’s top prospects expected to fall to the latter portion of the lottery’s top 10.

Most recently, that’s led the duo to Spain to garner firsthand information on two youngsters that may be able to shore up Detroit’s presumed vacancies in the frontcourt.

Mario Hezonja

Hezonja, a 6-foot-8 leaper, could go a long way toward shoring up the Pistons’ recent deficiencies at the small forward position. Though the 20-year-old has primarily contributed as a shooting guard in Spain, his length and borderline explosive athleticism may allow him to slide into a combo 2/3 slot in Detroit. He’s a knockdown shooter (approaching the 40% mark from deep this past season) and, according to reports, has no shortage of confidence.



On the other side of the slate, there have been questions about Hezonja’s inflated sense of self, at least in regards to his body language and interaction with teammates. Some critics have also pointed out his tendency to attempt to do too much, settling for poor shots and pursuing the unnecessarily flashy pass (which is standard fare for young prospects stateside). Still, Hezonja remains an intriguing prospect who has frequently popped up as the Pistons’ selection on various mock drafts. Expect to hear this name pop up time and again leading up to the June 25 draft.

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Kristaps Porzingis

While Hezonja is considered to be a relatively more established talent, the 19-year-old Porzingis is being lauded for everything he one day could turn out to be. Standing at 7-foot-1, the 19-year-old boasts a wingspan that may fall in the 7’4” area. But here’s the twist: he’s a forward.

Porzingis prefers to play while facing the basket, scoring a significant amount of points via running the floor, finishing lobs, and generally filling in the blanks. Thus far, even in limited deployment, scouts have been impressed with his shooting stroke, which extends beyond the 3-point line.



At this point, selecting Porzingis would be more about potential than anything else. He’s a sub-standard rebounder for his size, shies away from contact, and appears to sometimes struggle with the pace of the game. That said, he’s 19. For Pistons fans, the final two sentences of his DraftExpress scouting report may ring a few bells:

If his first coach in the NBA doesn’t appreciate his skill-set, and isn’t ready to be patient and work through his limitations, he could struggle badly to get minutes early on. Getting with the right coach, roster and organization who can develop him will play a huge role in the success he has in the NBA.

Sound familiar?

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