Lost amid all the Kemba Walker/Brandon Knight hoopla is that the best true point-guard option for the Detroit Pistons may be just up the road. Darius Morris who, much to the chagrin of Michigan basketball fans, entered his name into the 2011 NBA Draft after his sophomore season, is definitely an intriguing option for Detroit.
Walker and Knight enter the draft as more-proven prospects and guys that seem more NBA-ready. But one of the reasons that the Pistons might pass on them in favor of a big man early is that both guards are more of the combo-role — guys who can shoot and create shots, but might not be great at distributing the basketball.
And when it gets right down to it, the Pistons need a legit point guard.
Morris’ shaky outside shooting make him more of a developmental prospect. Still, he found so much success in John Beilein’s offense at Michigan because he was able to score and get his teammates involved. Perhaps no player in the country improved as much last season as Morris did.
He’s not ready to jump into the NBA as a starter, like Knight or Walker may be, but Morris could fill a role off the bench for a year or two while he, hopefully, keeps improving his game.
How would Detroit land Morris, though? He’s a major, major reach at No. 8 overall — yet it gets tricky after that, because he’s been as high as a No. 14 overall pick to Houston in mock drafts. Detroit does have the third pick of Round 2 (No. 33 overall), which seemed like a perfectly attainable spot for Morris not that long ago.
However, in a weak draft class, Morris has generated a bit of a buzz for himself. He’s no doubt an intriguing prospect — anyone who watched Michigan down the stretch, like against Duke in the NCAA Tournament, saw a player capable of being a spectacular player.
Houston’s in desperate need of some backcourt help, and with the No. 14 and No. 23 picks, it’s less of an act of desperation for them to take a shot on Morris.
There may be a chance to trade down — possibly to No. 12 or No. 13, allowing Utah or Phoenix to jump up to eight for someone like, say, Jimmer Fredette. Another alternative could be to try and slide between Houston’s two picks and hope the Rockets don’t take Morris at No. 14. And lastly, Detroit could utilize its two second-rounders to hop into the first round again — picking at No. 8 and in the 20s — in an effort to land the right guy.
Is Morris that guy? Well, consider what the Pistons have on their roster at the guard positions. Rodney Stuckey’s got one year left on his deal (Detroit extended a qualifying offer to him for 2011-12), and beyond him, it’s Will Bynum, Austin Daye, Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon. Bynum’s the closest thing to a true point guard in there, but he’s not the type of player you build a playoff-caliber team around. Of Daye, Hamilton and Gordon, it’s Gordon that can slide to PG in a pinch — but Detroit would probably prefer to shed both Hamilton and Gordon’s contracts this summer.
So Detroit’s pretty much back to square one. What that meant this past season was Stuckey at the point position and a cavalcade of guys rotating at the two.
Morris wouldn’t necessarily solve that situation immediately, but his potential as a pass-first point guard could be intriguing for the Pistons come the draft.