BUILDING A MYSTERY
Say this about the Pistons' draft strategy Thursday night - at least they didn't go back to the same ol' boring routine.
We've come to expect that they'll go for seasoned college players with late first-round picks. It looked that way for a few minutes when they selected Indiana's D.J. White but we quickly learned they were just picking for the Sonics. The Pistons traded down to get two second-rounders and still wound up with the player they wanted, little-known Walter Sharpe out of UAB.
They're taking more than one leap of faith here witih Sharpe. First, they have to be sure that most of his past problems were due to narcolepsy, a condition that wasn't diagnosed until last fall. And they have to believe that what they saw in the practice facility - a guy with lottery-level skills - was the real deal.
Sharpe has only appeared in 18 games over the last four years, so no one really knows what he can do with steady playing time. But at the spot where the Pistons were picking, I like the idea of rolling the dice on a wild-card prospect. Joe Dumars said that all the other players they were considering in the first round were "long gone" by the time their pick came up. White, for example, was a lesser version of Jason Maxiell. Who needs two undersized power forwards?
Sharpe could either be a steal or a dud. The alternative was to draft a proven commodity that really wouldn't make them better. So why not give it a shot?
As for the other two second-rounders - Trent Plaisted and Deron Washington - they'll probably never play in a regular-season game. The Pistons want them to develop their skills in Europe and then try to fight for a roster spot in a year or two.
The free agent market opens up Tuesday. There are some big names on the list but the only way the Pistons could make a run at those players would be through the always difficult sign-and-trade route.
They do have their mid-level exception and will probably use at least part of it to pick up some bench help. There are plenty of unrestricted perimeter players on the list and that's the route they'll probably take, even with Sharpe on the roster. Mickael Pietrus, Bostjan Nachbar, Matt Barnes, Bonzi Wells, Devean George, Quinton Ross, Ricky Davis, Mo Evans, Michael Finley, Roger Mason, James Posey, Devin Brown will all be looking for new contracts and one of them will probably end up in a Pistons uniform.