Friday, June 29, 2007

The Curious Case Of The Pistons Draft

I found the Pistons’ draft to be quite puzzling. Although they took two players with the same position during the first round, their backgrounds couldn’t be more different.
Rodney Stuckey, taken 15th overall, is the prototypical obscure player from a small-time program, Eastern Washington in the Big Sky Conference. We have been told he is athletic. We have been told he is tough. We have been told he is the type of combo guard that fits the Pistons’ mold. But has anybody actually seen him play? I watch a lot of college basketball, including many obscure late night games from the Western part of the country. I have a dish that carries a lot more college hoops than just ESPN. I have never seen Stuckey play. All I can tell you is what I have seen from video highlights on the Internet and during the draft itself. And to be honest, I can’t tell that much. I can’t criticize nor praise the Pistons for this pick because I don’t know what they have gotten. And there will be those who will say, "Trust Joe Dumars," on this one. Well, for all his success overall, Dumars has made more than a few draft blunders. Darko, Rodney White, Mateen Cleaves, etc. Guess what I am getting at is that instead of a number, the Pistons probably should put a question mark on the back of Stuckey’s jersey because he is the franchise’s mystery man.
Shooting guard Aaron Afflalo, taken 27th overall, presents a completely different twist. We have all seen him play. A lot, too. While hosting the draft show for WXYT Thursday night, I didn’t take one call from a listener who thought he was a quality pick. Afflalo doesn’t seem athletic enough to make an impact in the NBA. When matched up against NBA-caliber talent from Florida during the NCAA tournament, his lack of athleticism stood out like a sore thumb. He is a relatively inconsistent shooter from long range as well. I wonder, honestly, if he will even make the team. Sammy Mejia , another guard from DePaul, will also struggle to make this team. He was chosen by the Pistons during the second round.
This draft will be judged on the players taken after Stuckey and Afflalo. Two of them are from the University of Southern California -. Nick Young, taken the pick right after Stuckey by Washington, and Gabe Pruitt, taken a few picks after Afflalo by Boston. I thought both those players - guards - would have been better selections. Young can really shoot. Pruitt also can shoot and is much more athletic than Afflalo.

Random Thoughts

- Frank Thomas hit his 500th home run Thursday, but that milestone doesn’t mean nearly what it used to. Is Thomas a sure-thing Hall of Famer? I’m not sure. If there was no DH. If this was a different era during which it was more difficult to hit home runs. Would he still have posted such impressive numbers? I am also not sold on Craig Biggio as a Hall of Famer, either, despite his 3,000 hits.

- Speaking of hall of fame issues, Igor Larionov definitely belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s a joke he is not in yet.

- Chad Durbin has pitched surprisingly well in relief. He has been effective because he has thrown strikes and gotten ahead in the count. There is nothing worse than control problems from a reliever trying to hold a lead. And those problems have hurt the Tigers’ bullpen all season.

10 Comments:

Blogger Moondogg said...

Hey there, Pat.
I live in AZ and have seen Afflalo play often. As such, I respectfully disagree with you and your radio show callers about his ability.
Being the Player of the Year in the Pac 10 and a First Team All-American is nothing to sneeze at. This kid can play, you guys are going to be surprised.
The Pistons draft suggests that a blockbuster deal is going to happen soon. I see Hamilton getting dealt--especially if the team doesn't re-sign Chauncey.

2:24 PM 
Anonymous Marty said...

I find it interesting that you mention that the Pistons should have drafted more athletic players with a good shot, when the busts you mention: Darko, Rodney White, Mateen Cleaves, and Carlos Delfino, all were athletic players with good shots (With the exception of Cleaves). I like what Dumars did in this draft, because he has found that the players he drafted who have shown great toughness, have all had success for him (except for Cleaves), while the players he drafted on pure ability have had little success for him. We'll see how it works out for him in 3 or 4 years, but this draft class may turn out well for the Pistons.

2:39 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Marty,
I haven't really looked at it that way and you make a good point. I like way both handled themselves today meeting with the media. Seems like both have good heads on their shoulders. That's important.
Caputo

3:05 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Moondogg,
You're right about his college accomplishments, but he is about to enter a much more athletic world. Will he be able to keep up with it? That is the question. I sense they will re-sign Billups and not make a blockbuster deal, but you never know. You might be right.
Caputo

3:08 PM 
Blogger Eric Chase said...

Hey Pat - while Biggio and Thomas certainly won't put up the biggest #'s of the (steroid!!!) era, they have certainly put up worthy HOF stats. Thomas' .305 career average for a man that size is pretty impressive. If Thomas could've been just a slightly above average first baseman, which he wasn't close to, he would've be a first ballot guy. Biggio has impressive stats across the board...hits, homers (for a 2B), runs, he was winner and team guy for Houston. Noting his position changes!

I enjoy feedback and conversation with you so here's a question for you to ponder. Can you rank the top 2B of the last 20 years.

I say...
1. Alomar - an all time great
2. Kent - but thank Bonds for all the fastballs
3. Biggo

3:08 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Eric Chase,
There a lot of people who agree with you. I don't. Put Thomas in a different era and, in my opinion, his stats aren't nearly as good. As for the second basemen you noted, none are as good as Lou Whitaker - he didn't even get a Hall of Fame sniff. Jeff Kent, for example, would not be what he was statistically in another era. Alomar would have been a great player, but not like that. As for Biggio, he has been solid. But Hall of Fame? Was he a better player than Andre Dawson or Jim Rice or Alan Trammell. I don't think so. Just because he got to 3,000 hits shouldn't make him automatic.
Caputo

5:46 PM 
Blogger Eric Chase said...

Pat your points are valid, but in my opinion players credentials should be judged on the era they played in and who they played against. How Thomas would stack up against a Koufax, Gibson or Feller is a total unknown. You can speculate how any players skill set would translate in any era in all sports, but we'll just never know...unless you find some pretty neat web sites :).

But in sense I think we can agree that as time passes and we gain a better historical perspective, #'s like 3000 and 500 will lose some of that magical Hall of Fame allure.

Always good to debate with you! Perhaps I should've called in more lol

11:04 PM 
Blogger maddog52 said...

I agree with you Book I am not sure what the Pistons got in stored for us this offseason. The draft doesn't bother me much though I'd prefer Young over Stucky and I thought it was a reach to get Affolo that early. We won't know how this works until the season starts. The Pistons have to play their young guys for us to give an opinion.What puzzles me is that they need to make a move. Joe has to have something up his sleeve in order for this team to stay competitive. One they still need a center or something close to it. Webber is ok move, but you can clearly see his legs jsut aren't there any more. ONly thing I can see about the two rookies is Joe enivisions them being the next James and Hunter off the bench. They talk about Grant Hill, but there is no Gurantee that Hill will sign with us.What is the plan after that? Now there is talk that they may not be able to afford AMir Johnson. That is really good. I'd like to see them part ways with Rasheed and get his lack luster every once in a while attitude off the team. I think all his crying and bickering has rubbed off to much on this team. IN 2004 he was vocal but not as vocal and it was his first year. But now everybody is just wimpering insteado f playing to there abilities. My mind Pistons should of beat cleveland and I think they could of beat San Antonio if they wanted to cause Rasheed gives duncan fits.

Some guys I'd like to see the Pistons go after or something. Ainge is a retard and had a 8 gallon water tank for a head. I know peirce would love to play with some players. Why not package maybe Rasheed and Rip to Boston for Peirce and Al Jefferson.

Random thoughts. I think Durbin is a great fit in the bull pen. ONe guy I don't think people should drift from justs yet is Craig MOnroe. I know he is struggling right now. But we are approaching the all start break. If you remember the last two years this is when he really heats up. But I think you still have to be concerned. I know Dunn strikes out a lot, but why not package a prospect and monroe for like Dunn and maybe that weathers guy? Just a thought and suggestion. Guadardo is coming back for the Reds. Maybe Weathers is expandable.

2:39 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Maddog52,
This off season is going to be interesting. There isn't that much in free agency available, but the possiblity of KG and Kobe and possibily Arenas being traded could make it explosive. If I were the Pistons, I'd re-sign Billups and go for it one more time with this core. Next off season is loaded with free agents. It would be better to make a big move then. They are putting a lot on Amir Johnson and Jason Maxiell. I wonder how they will handle it. I am with you on Monroe. Seems like he has become kind of a scapegoat and doesn't deserve it.
Caputo

9:26 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Eric Chase,
I think you're making my point for me. Baseball's eras generally translate more than other sports, but the one the last 20 years - when Thomas and Biggio have posted these numbers - has been skewed. I think that precludes the automatics for the Hall of Fame - 500 home runs and 3,000 hits - in my minds. My guess, though, is that most of my fellow Hall of Fame voters disagree with me and agree with you. It's an interesting debate.
Caputo

9:29 AM 

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