CHICAGO — The prospects have received the message.
Positional flexibility is a top characteristic NBA teams are looking for in draft hopefuls.
Take Virginia junior Ty Jerome.
In meeting with teams this week — including the Detroit Pistons — the feedback says he could be capable of playing either guard spot, experience he picked up in three seasons with the Cavaliers.
“It’s just being a combo guard,” Jerome said. “When you enter the offense, I learned how to play on and off the ball.
“That’s the No. 1 thing (Coach Tony Bennett) taught me and it will play off at the next level.”
More: How will Detroit Pistons handle 15th pick? Take best player available
Pistons fans cringe when they recall the selection of forward Stanley Johnson at No. 8 in 2015, someone the Pistons thought would have that versatility.
Many players — including Justise Winslow, Myles Turner and Devin Booker — taken after Johnson have excelled.
The Pistons moved on from Johnson after 3 ½ inconsistent seasons, trading the mercurial talent to the New Orleans Pelicans before the Feb. 7 trade deadline.
The reasoning for drafting Johnson is understandable — even in hindsight.
The front office under Stan Van Gundy thought Johnson would develop into a two-way force capable of guarding all five spots on the floor.
Johnson is a plus-defender, but he’s an offensive liability.
When he wanted a new start, the new front office headed by Ed Stefanski obliged with a three-team deal that landed forward Thon Maker from the Milwaukee Bucks and sent Johnson to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Johnson will be a free agent this offseason so his future is cloudy.
But the search for a dominant two-way wing continues.
That’s why the Pistons are interested in North Carolina forward Nassir Little, who met with them this week.
The Pistons have the No. 15 pick during the June 20 draft — a pick sitting just outside the lottery.
The draft is considered top heavy, but value has been found at No. 15 in previous drafts.
Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard is one of the best 15th picks in history, going 15th to the Indiana Pacers in 2011.
Little is drawing Leonard comparisons with a 6-6, 224-pound frame.
Watching Leonard — who gets time at three positions — carry the Raptors through the NBA playoffs by excelling at both ends of the floor reveals the hunt will continue.
Winning ends criticism
It’s tough to project the Pistons’ selection at No. 15 or even in the second round where they will have the 45th pick.
Jerome could be in play for either pick given the unpredictable nature of the draft.
At 6-5, he scored 13.5 points per game and led the ACC in assists (5.5). He flirted with 40 percent 3-point shooting over the course of a three-year career.
There are questions about athleticism, but he is a smart basketball player.
The offensive numbers could be considered surprising since he played under the Cavaliers, who are noted for the slow pace of play.
Winning an NCAA title ended the criticism.
“You really can’t critique winning and that’s the bottom line. If you win a national championship, what can you say about that team or what can you say about that system. It obviously worked.”
Note: Kentucky swingman Keldon Johnson, forward KZ Okpala, Michigan swingman Jordan Poole and Tennessee point guard Jordan Bone met with the Pistons. Michigan swingman Ignas Brazdeikis said he has a workout scheduled with the Pistons.
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Published at Fri, 17 May 2019 17:46:08 +0000