Ahead of the Draft Lottery on May 19, NBA teams will get one of their first official looks at this year’s batch of prospects beginning on Tuesday, when the league’s NBA Draft Combine kicks off in Chicago.
For the Pistons, that will mean an opportunity to assess their options firsthand. While the initial train of thought has Detroit chasing a small forward prospect (Tayshaun Prince, Cartier Martin, and Caron Butler are all over 30 years old and possible flight risks), there also remains the possibility of chasing another big man to pair with Andre Drummond in the event that Greg Monroe opts to leave via free agency.
In addition to its traditional medical/physical testing (height, weight, vertical leap, etc.), this year’s draft combine also marks the return of five-on-five play for the first time since 2009. However, at the behest of agents and advisers, most first round prospects will likely forego five-on-five play as a means of preventing injury or otherwise keeping one’s cards tight to the chest.
With that, here’s an abridged rundown of potential Pistons prospects (plus a Spartans bonus) and their status heading into the combine:
Willie Cauley-Stein, PF-C 7’0” 240 lbs., Kentucky – An athletic big who thrives in running the floor, Cauley-Stein can be a difference maker on defense (3.6 blocks per 40 minutes at Kentucky) but lacks much in the way of an offensive repertoire. Combine Status: Medical/Physical Testing Only
Sam Dekker, SF 6’9” 230 lbs., Wisconsin – An experienced 21-year-old, Dekker has the size and frame to make the transition as an NBA small forward. Can finish well at the basket and stands as capable rebounder. Questions remain regarding his ability to develop a consistent jump shot (a running theme amongst prospects it seems). Combine Status: Medical/Physical Testing Only
Mario Hezonja, SF 6’8” 215 lbs., Croatia – The springy wingman provides an abundance of confidence, youth, and athleticism. Questions remain regarding his commitment to the defensive side of the ball. Combine Status: Not Attending
Stanley Johnson, SF 6’7” 245 lbs., Arizona – Boasts an NBA body and impressive wingspan (near seven feet) but has struggled with his shot, both inside and out. Combine Status: Medical/Physical Testing Only
Kristaps Porzingis, PF 7’1” 220 lbs., Latvia – Despite status as legitimate seven-footer, the 19-year-old Porzingis shies away from contact and prefers to play facing the basket. Impressive up-and-down athleticism and ability to finish above the rim. Shot displays good form but still in development process. Combine Status: Not Attending
Branden Dawson, SF-PF 6’6” 206 lbs. Michigan State – Though a great finisher at the rim and impressive rebounder for his size, Dawson is facing many doubts heading into draft season as a result of his apparent inability to develop his game along the perimeter. Can he survive at the next level as a 6’6” power forward? Expected to be a second rounder at best. Combine Status: 5-on-5 Confirmed
For a full list of NBA Draft Combine attendees, click HERE.