For most of the 2000′s, Pistons general manager Joe Dumars was striking out in the draft. Besides Tayshaun Prince and Mehmet Okur in the 2001 and 2002 drafts, Dumars didn’t have another draft pick make an impact until Jason Maxiell in 2005.
He went another few drafts before Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo in 2007 – and not much in between – but in the last three years, he has done extremely well. Using the last few drafts, we’ll be taking a look at the Pistons young core of players and best-case projections for each. We’ve already looked at Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, and Jonas Jerebko; now we’ll look at Kim English, the team’s 2012 second-round draft pick.
English was always a good three-point shooter at Missouri (averaged 37% his first three years), but his senior year saw him truly blossom into an offensive leader. He scored a career-high 14.5 points per game, shot a sizzling 45.9% from beyond the arc, and corralled 4.5 rebounds from the shooting guard position. En route to helping the Tigers win the 2012 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament championship, he also earned Third Team All-Big 12 honors for the second time in his career.
Despite the accolades, English didn’t garner much attention when it came to draft boards. He had good basketball skills, but his frame and supposed lack of athleticism on defense kept him from getting picked up earlier, and he fell to the Pistons at 44. After an extremely productive summer league in which he averaged 11.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 45.5% three-point shooting, and solid on-ball defense, it’s likely that English will become an integral part of the team’s success.
Best-case scenario: Arron Afflalo
Afflalo came out of college in 2007 with much of the same criticisms as English, and after two seasons in Detroit that saw him play well but never really crack the rotation, he was traded to Denver along with Walter Sharpe for a second-round pick.
He immediately saw dividends upon arrival in the Mile High City, averaging 10+ more minutes a game and almost doubling his scoring production after becoming the team’s full-time starter. His numbers have continued to rise, and last season he averaged a career-high 15.2 points on 47% shooting. As he has accumulated more and more playing time, his assertiveness on offense turned him into one of Denver’s top options. His defensive statistics might not show it, but Afflalo’s defense has also become a calling card of the five-year pro.
He was traded to Orlando in the Dwight Howard megadeal, but from most critic’s account, the Magic will be a lottery-bound team and Afflalo will get even more playing time.
If English can follow the career path of Afflalo, but remain a Piston obviously, the team may have it’s corner three-point threat and defensive specialist once again. Being a rookie, he’ll have plenty to learn and there will be bumps along the road, but early indications point towards him fitting in well with his new teammates.