Forward Kyle Singler (25) was taken by the Pistons in the second round of the 2011 draft. The Pistons are hoping to unearth another contributor with their second-round pick Thursday. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)
Auburn Hills — The 38th pick in the NBA draft is traditionally a spot where a team would take a chance on a first-round talent that falls to the second round, putting hope upon hope a small risk can lead to big rewards.
The Pistons have found contributors in the second round before. Kyle Singler, Jonas Jerebko and Mehmet Okur are three recent examples.
Stan Van Gundy is looking to find a player more in the reliable range than anything else. He wants a player with a defined and possibly refined skill set for his first draft pick as Pistons all-everything executive.
“What we’re looking for is high-character guys who work very hard and have a specific skill,” Van Gundy said. “Not ‘he’s a great athlete’ and you can’t define (him). You want someone you know can do “x”. You’re not gonna get a guy who can do a lot of things well. But you can get a guy who can do one or two things well.”
Being one of the teams without a first-round pick but which has first-round needs, Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower are monitoring the teams who are putting first-rounders on the market in a talent-heavy draft.
Some teams have multiple first-round picks and don’t want those salaries slotted with guaranteed money for at least four years. Others, like the more successful teams at the bottom of the first round, need the salary cap space to re-sign proven veterans and don’t have the need for rookies who require playing time to develop.
“There’s one team that’s saying ‘give us your best deal for your pick,’ ” said Van Gundy, declining to name the team but said it’s in the bottom five of the first round.
Usually, teams can trade cash into those positions or give up future draft picks, most likely second-rounders in drafts down the road.
The Pistons have brought in around 36 players in five workout sessions. They’ve kept their list pretty private thus far, but Van Gundy identified the swing positions (shooting guard, small forward) as spots they’ll target, via the draft or free agency.
“There shouldn’t be a lot of drama in terms of decision making with the draft,” said Van Gundy, referring to the team’s current position and the homework that’s been done so far.
“We think we can get a guy who can come in and play for us.”
ESPN’s Chad Ford has the Pistons taking Joe Harris, a shooting guard from Virginia. With Rodney Stuckey likely gone as an unrestricted free agent, Van Gundy identified Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as the only true wing players.
Shooting, of course, is at the top of the list for a team that ranked last in 3-point shooting last season, but it doesn’t mean it’s the only consideration. Van Gundy said he’s not taking any chances on questionable players.
“At very top of the list, character and hard work,” Van Gundy said. “We’re not gonna take a flier on guys with character problems. The temptation is there…(but) not this year.”
Decisions to make
Van Gundy has been so focused on Greg Monroe’s situation, he hasn’t yet made roster decisions that need his attention.
Chauncey Billups has a team option for next year and Van Gundy has given no indication whether he’d like to keep the beloved Piston around. Backup center Josh Harrellson has a team option, as well as backup point guard Peyton Siva, who showed some signs of promise toward the end of last season.
Billups has contemplated retirement, and Van Gundy called the upcoming Summer League “big” for Siva, whose option doesn’t have to be exercised or declined until after the team returns from Orlando in July.
He has identified what could be called his core: Andre Drummond, then Monroe, Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. Then Singler and Caldwell-Pope, and just outside of that Jonas Jerebko.
Van Gundy said Jerebko has been the most consistent Piston in the practice facility since he took over.
“He’s made gains with his body,” Van Gundy said.
2013 second-round pick Tony Mitchell has been around, he said, but “inconsistent.”