Auburn Hills — Stan Van Gundy had to wait some two-plus hours to make his first personnel stamp as an executive with the Pistons.
When the time came, he selected 6-foot-6 junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie from Colorado with the 38th pick of the 2014 NBA draft Thursday night.
Van Gundy previously talked about the possibility of trading up into the first round if a player they liked were not only available, but also one the team’s new brass didn’t feel would last to the eighth pick of the second round.
He resisted the urge, taking Dinwiddie, who averaged 14.7 points, 3.8 assists and shot 41 percent from 3-point land last season — but also missed the last 18 games of the season with a torn left ACL.
Still, the Pistons insist they had Dinwiddie rated highly, and team medical staff thoroughly checked out his records before making the selection. They don’t have a timetable for a debut on the floor.
“We felt he was a first-round talent,” said Pistons general manager Jeff Bower, who spoke after the selection was made. “I know it’s a cliché, but we had him targeted as a player we were impressed with. It’s a good night for the organization.”
Although Stan Van Gundy had spoken openly about moving into the first round, into the 25-to-30 range, Bower made it sound like there wasn’t a player worth moving up for — perhaps feeling they would get what they wanted in Dinwiddie all along.
They interviewed Dinwiddie, 21, on Wednesday via Skype, and the Pistons were impressed with what they heard and, on film, what they saw. They were looking for a specific skill.
Most thought it would be shooting, considering how poorly they fared last season.
But the first words from Bower referred to his ability to distribute and his size, a stark contrast to the incumbent point guards on the roster, Brandon Jennings, Will Bynum and Peyton Siva. Jennings and Bynum struggle defensively, and the Pistons like Dinwiddie’s potential on that end of the floor.
“His ability to move the ball, pass the ball and his instincts,” Bower said. “He’s got outstanding size for the point-guard position (and) strength. A very good feel for moving the ball, as well as his scoring ability and ability to shoot.”
Dinwiddie was listed as a combo guard by most scouts and observers, but he referred to himself as a “pure point (guard).”
“I showed that in college,” Dinwiddie said, via teleconference minutes after the draft. “At the same time, I bring defensive versatility with my size and my shooting.”
He said he plans on working on his ability to be a knockdown shooter. Despite a hiccup in his sophomore year where he shot 34 percent, it was sandwiched between shooting 44 as a freshman and 41 in his junior year.
“Besides my knee, I want to get stronger and my overall athleticism,” Dinwiddie said. “Be more of a knockdown shooter than I was in college.”
If Dinwiddie is healthy and plays well enough to crack the rotation, plus is able to create, he’ll help the Pistons improve their standing in the assist category, where they ranked 24th.
“He can make plays for people,” Bower said. “His instincts are that of a point guard. He has the size that gives him the flexibility to do different things.”
Dinwiddie had planned to get back on the court in August but backed off giving himself a timetable, echoing Bower’s comments.
“We’ll move with it cautiously and slowly,” Bower said. “We will not push it until we get him in position to have a thorough and complete recovery.”
The Pistons certainly needed perimeter help, particular in the area of shooting. They finished last in the NBA in 3-point shooting, and their shot selection probably was worse.
Kyle Singler and last year’s first-round pick, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, are the only swingmen slated to return next season, with a combined three years of NBA experience. Caldwell-Pope shot 32 percent from 3 and Singler 38 percent, but they didn’t take the bulk of 3-point shots.
Josh Smith and Jennings combined to take 722 triples and shot 31 percent, numbers Van Gundy wants improved.
But the Pistons also need deterrents in the way of personnel capable of taking makeable 3-pointers. And those capable of recognizing where not to pass the ball.