Here at DBB we are your comprehensive Detroit Pistons site, and Summer League is no different. As we get ready for the team’s first game against the Portland Trail Blazers and excitedly await the debuts of Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, let us also not forget it will be the debut for up to nine more NBA rookies (including maybe second-round pick Gabriele Procida), as well as another audition for three more NBA hopefuls who have played professionally in the G League and in Europe.
Here, we will not only take a brief look at each player, but also get an idea if anyone not drafted by the Pistons have a shot of making the team or carving out an NBA career. With Troy Weaver and this front office’s insistence on the Motor City Cruise being another important development pipeline, perhaps they can unearth some undrafted gems similar to how Miami and Golden State have to fill out their rosters.
I will break up with 14 players in question into three distinct tiers based on what I believe their chances are of making an NBA roster this season: The Longshots, An Actual Chance, and Your NEW Detroit Pistons. Let’s get started!
We start with the Pistons 57th overall pick from the 2021 NBA Draft. While his selection by the team should put him in the “Actual Chance” pile, the addition of Jalen Duren, Nerlens Noel, the re-signing of Marvin Bagley III, and the return of Kelly Olynyk and Isaiah Stewart make it next to impossible for Koprivica to be given any kind of chance to make this Pistons squad (barring the team trading three of the five centers I just mentioned). Even making some space for Koprivica on the Motor City Cruise is not guaranteed as he signed a three-year deal last offseason with Partizan Belgrade so the Pistons would have to buy him out if they wanted him to remain in the States.
At 7-foot-1 and 240 pounds, expect Koprivica to provide rim running, shot blocking, rebounding, and traditional big man skills. He also moves very well for a guy that stands over 7 feet and led Partizan in blocks this past season with 27 across 33 games. With size and skill very reminiscent of current Los Angeles Clippers center Ivica Zubac, Balsa has NBA talent and size. As it is on the Pistons roster, however, NBA teams have little space for this kind of center.
A wildcard, the Pistons seem to have an interest in developing Tarke’s unique blend of skills and size. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Tarke has power forward size and strength, but has the passing chops and ball handling abilities of a guard. Coming out of Coppin State in the 2021 NBA Draft, Detroit immediately scooped Tarke up for last year’s Summer League team and kept the versatile forward for the entire season on the Motor City Cruise. Unfortunately, Tarke did very little on the Cruise this past season, only playing 10.3 minutes per game and scoring 3.0 points and pulling in 2.2 rebounds per game.
Tarke is a switchable defender, unfortunately, his skills don’t excite or pop in Summer League play—unless he turns into a one man lob-city—and without something as simple as a corner three, Tarke will need more seasoning in the G League to iron out a clear role on offense.
Jimmy Boeheim III
One of two Boeheim brothers on this Summer League squad, Jimmy has good size at 6-foot-8 and 215 pounds. He started his collegiate career at Cornell, playing there for three seasons before spending his senior year with his brother and Dad at Syracuse. JB3 (That’s what I’m calling him anyway), is a no-nonsense kind of player willing to mix it up down low as a power forward and is in position to make a play as a supplement to the shot creators and defensive leaders of his team. He also showed an ability to keep firing away from three to keep defenses honest as attempted at least 95 three-point attempts over his final three seasons. And this past season saw him shoot 37.9% from downtown.
Jack of all trades master of none is a somewhat derogatory phrase thrown around when analyzing someone like JB3 here, but I do think it is unfair if anyone tried to label him with this. It is clear on film that he is a solid frontcourt player who had to play center at times and was physical enough to do it in a pinch. His three-point shooting is also underrated as he had to carry a terrible Cornell team his junior season and then was lost among a sea of three-point shooters last season. But he is limited as an athlete and positionally. He could play center IN A PINCH, but was outmatched at times and needs a much stronger base if he were to do that in the NBA. He’s also not quick or skilled enough to be a small forward so stretch four is what JB3 has to hinge his hopes on if he wants to make it in the NBA.
One of three incumbents from this past season’s Motor City Cruise team, Key is the only one of the three who saw actual NBA court time with the Pistons this past season. While it is impossible to evaluate anyone’s skills from the nine games Key played with Detroit this past season, it is easier to see Key’s 24 games in the G League with the Delaware Blue Coats to see what kinds of skills caused the Pistons to give him actual NBA court time. Key was able to drop a per game stat line of 19.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1.5 blocks on shooting splits of 53.7% from two-point range, 39.0% from three-point distance, and 66.2% from the free throw line.
While those stats are impressive AND Key has already earned time on the main roster, the 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward is fighting an uphill battle because he SHOULD dominate here in Summer League. With that stat line against pros and NBA time under his belt, Key will have to separate himself from the pack in the most meaningful way of anyone on this list. If he cannot show out against rookies and other guys with less experience and production than him, then he will be passed by. And if he cannot maintain good shooting numbers from deep, then he is almost a lock to be gone from the Pistons as they still remain in desperate need of shooting.
Standing just 5-foot-11 and weighing in at 180 pounds, Moore is a point guard that is going to be fighting an uphill battle to prove he belongs in the NBA. Not only is Moore under 6 feet tall, he is 24 years old and spent six years in college at four different universities. What Moore can do on a basketball court, however, is provide good floor spacing and playmaking from the point guard spot. Moore shot 36.4% on 162 three-point attempts this past season and has posted an assist percentage over 26% over his past three seasons. And while he did bounce around to four schools, those four schools just happened to be Cal, Kansas, DePaul, and Miami so Moore has spent time in some great developmental systems.
But, tale as old as the NBA, guys under 6 feet tall have an incredibly difficult time making it in the NBA—and so do 24-year-old rookies. Moore has two labels on him walking in to the NBA that some teams will not remove unless he shows out like Isaiah Thomas. There will also be questions about why he bounced around so much in some scouting circles and only Moore can answer that. I imagine his playmaking and shooting skills will get him some G League interest at least to start his professional basketball career.
Charlie Moore’s teammate at the U, McGusty has two-guard size along with good floor-spacing ability. While Isaiah Wong got the main amount of attention in NBA Draft circles, he was able to use his rim attacking abilities thanks in large part to McGusty and Moore who shared primary floor-spacing duties for the Hurricanes. Putting up a team leading 172 three-point attempts and dropping 89 assists to go along with that, McGusty’s floor spacing and secondary playmaking are enticing when paired with his six-foot five-inch height and 190 pound frame. Converting those three-point attempts at 35.5% clip also shows he can handle a high volume of long range shots.
The rough part for McGusty will be on the defensive end where he did get pushed around by stronger guys on film. Even when opposing players were not bigger than him, McGusty still got moved when his opponent had a strong base. McGusty is also not a reliable ball handler at this point in his career so he will primarily be a shooter. He also spent six years in college, like Charlie Moore, but was at Oklahoma his first two seasons before finishing out his final four years at the U. Being another 24-year-old rookie, he is going to be facing an uphill battle for development time in the NBA, but with that shooting and the fact he got to the free throw line 156 times he will get a G League shot.
The last guy of the longshots tier, Turner did spend this past season with the Motor City Cruise. Listed at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 205 pounds, Turner is a guard who came around in the 2021 NBA Draft cycle and posted the following per game stat line with the Cruise this past season: 8.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 0.6 steals with shooting splits of 50% from two-point distance, 40.4% from three-point range, and 91.7% from the free throw line. This was all on a total of 116 shots from the field and a very small 12 trips to the line, but this is how you make the most of the time you are given ladies and gentleman.
Turner will need to hold up at 40% from three however at his size in order to make the biggest impression. He also had a three-point percentage that decreased his final four seasons in college so there are doubts he can be an impact shooter on higher volume. Thankfully, his playmaking looks legit as he posted a 25.1% assist percentage versus a 9.5% Turnover ratio in his final season at Bowling Green so he has the chops to play the point. He also dished out 29 assists to 16 turnovers in his team with the Cruise so he continues to keep his assist to turnover ratio high. A Detroit Native, Turner will be a hometown favorite should he return to the Cruise and should earn more time getting up shots and creating for others, but will have to be a flamethrower if he wants to make an NBA roster.
A 3-and-D specialist for UCLA, Bernard saw his role significantly increase his final two season with the Bruins. Slotting in between Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jacquez, Bernard already showcased his ability to slot in between two primary options as he put up 262 three-point attempts the past two seasons and shot 35.9% on these attempts. And while he is by no means an on-ball playmaker, he still dished out 11 assists to just 73 turnovers in these two years so he always kept the ball moving and rarely turned it over. He also was sneakily good in the paint ant at the rim where he was 68 of 115 on shots in these areas which translated to 59.1%.
Right now, Bernard is trending more in the direction of a standstill shooter who can provide solid defense. At 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds, plenty of teams will be fine with that on the wings. But whether or not Bernard can hang with NBA starters on defense will go a long way in determining if he has any shot to stick in the league. As will his three-point shooting as Bernard shot just 33.7% from three on an increased volume of attempts this past season—his first taking more than 96 threes in an entire season. If even one of these skills ends up being below average, this will hinder Bernard’s ability to get time in an NBA rotation.
Foster might be the best shooter on this roster—which would be incredible considering this is a roster loaded with shooters. In his five years at Howard University, Foster took 622 three-point attempts and drained 38.1% of them. This past season saw Foster post his most impressive total with 45.5% shooting on 229 threes. And before anyone questions the level of competition, Foster did line up against the likes of Villanova, Georgetown, and Notre Dame in their non-conference matchups this year and shot it very well in each game. He also held his own on defense and was not overmatched.
However, Foster is 6-foot-5 but only weighs 172 pounds, so he will have size concerns. He also enters the league as a 25-year-old rookie so he will have to show legit NBA skill to be given time over the younger guys. Despite these two big hurdles, however, it is rare you get a guard that can shoot over 45% from three while attempting 73.4% of their shots from long range. If that kind of shooting holds up then there will be a team wanting to plop that into their rotation as soon as possible.
Already signed to a two-way contract, Buddy is the definition of a gunner. This past season at Syracuse, Buddy was the main offensive option putting up 524 field goal attempts, 258 of which came from three-point distance. He also got to the free-throw line 112 times and posted shooting splits of 47.0% from two, 34.1% from three, and 88.4% from the free-throw line. Buddy is more than just a shooter, however, as he did handle the rock for Cuse quite a bit this past season and does have a handle that profiles as a good bench guard in the mold of guys like Luke Kennard and Jordan Clarkson.
What Buddy can do outside of shoot and score remains a BIG question mark. Any prospect coming out of Syracuse is going to get immediate defensive questions in their scouting report because of the 2-3 Zone the team is famous for under Coach Jim Boeheim—which prevents players from ever having to line up in man-to-man situations. Buddy is also not a noticeable athlete on tape that can stay with quicker guys nor creates a lot of separation running in a straight line. His skills are clear, but BuddyBo (again my own nickname for him) will have to show he can remain in the right positions on both ends of the court to not get run off or run over by superior NBA athletes.
Buddy reminds me a lot of current Houston Rocket Garrsion Matthews since both guys are LEGIT shooters that it almost doesn’t matter if they can do anything else because of the volume and percent of their threes that go in. In today’s NBA, these type of guys are needed and NBA teams will carve out space for them as was the case with Matthews in Washington—which led to him being able to sign a four-year $8,200,000 contract in the 2021 offseason.
While Buddy has already signed his two-way deal with the team, I actually think Stanley Umude is the better bet to carve out a long career as an NBA role player. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Umude was Arkansas’s only reliable three-point shooter from this past season. Umude also was the teams’ secondary offensive option who had to bail them out of some bad possessions. I don’t like to be overly negative of any player, but Umude did have to make up for a lot of terrible shots taken by his point guard JD Notae. Notae took 589 total shots, shot 39.6% from the entire field, 29.7% from three, and posting a true shooting percentage of 49.8%. Umude had to counteract that inefficiency. He posted a per game stat line of 11.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks with shooting splits of 52.2% from two-point range, 37.1% from three-point distance, and 72.4% from the free throw line. He also played good defense and showed the ability to handle guarding the 2 all the way to the 4 spot.
Umude does not profile as someone who will blow up in the scoring column, however, as he has a limited handle and is below average rebounder which hurts his ability to play small ball 4. While his ball handling is not bad, he did not break guys down much in isolation nor did he get a ton of reps in pick-and-roll as well. He also posted an 8.1% assist percentage this past season so he did not show he could be a playmaker at Arkansas. And a minor detail is Au’Diese Toney and Jaylin Williams crashed the glass much more than Umude and he could stand to contribute more here as it would add to his versatility in the NBA.
The cherry on top of all this, however, is Umude does have experience as being the primary scorer in his past. From the 2017-18 season to the 2020-21 season Umude played for the University of South Dakota and led the Coyotes in scoring two out of his four seasons there. I am not arguing that Umude is going to turn back into a primary scorer, but it does help his overall profile that he has inhabited so many roles and has taken something from each step to build his current skillset. I could see Umude having a Royce O’Neale type career being an all-around player always willing to do the dirty work.
As laid out in Bryce Simon’s recent piece, Procida is a 6-foot-7 shooter with great athleticism we hope the team finds some roster space for this season. Last season with Bologna in Italy’s Lega A, Procida put up the following per game stat line: 6.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.3 blocks while shooting 67.9% from two-point distance, 38.3% from three-point range, and 78.4% from the free throw line. Oh and he also has the ability to do this:
While the team doesn’t need Procida to do much dribbling or creating right away, they will want him to play at least average defense if he is to get any serious consideration for playing time this season. While being six-foot seven-inches tall certainly helps, being 191 pounds makes one question how you will hold up against NBA physicality. While I wish the team would just bring Procida over asap and let him learn here, I suspect the team follows their recent pattern of drafting European prospects in round 2 that end up spending their rookie season overseas.
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound 18-year-old center will be the easiest to spot rookie for the Detroit Pistons. Created in Lazarus Jackson’s lab to combine the attributes of “TOO SWOLE” and “Jumpy-Jump” while adding in rim protection and switch-ability potential, Duren is everything you want to bet on in a defensive center of the future. Look for Duren to catch lob after lob, set screens that erase smaller guards, and occasionally back down the opposition in the post.
What Duren is on offense as of now is unclear, but he will make his will felt in one way or another just because he is so big. Summer League, however, will be test number one for Duren to see what kinds of skills he brings to the offensive side of the ball besides screening and catching lobs. He did flash court vision and good clean passes in short rolls and had more successful post possessions as the year went on at Memphis this past season and I am sure the team will try to get some of this going as well.
There will be bumps for Duren, as there is for all rookie centers, but as I have stated all draft season for Duren: for a guy that is supposedly so limited, he did lead his Memphis team in points, rebounds, block, two-point field goal attempts, free throw attempts, effective field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage. Duren continues to be underrated in my opinion.
The main event we are ALL waiting to see, Ivey is a baja blast of energy on offense who attacks the rim and gets to the free throw line a ton. Shooting 94 of 138 on shots directly at the rim and taking 207 trips to the free throw line, as Laz said when the Pistons drafted Ivey, he will bring what the team has lacked for what seems like forever and that is the ability to get to the free throw line. He also is a solid playmaker that dished out 110 assists this past season and showed big strides in developing his court vision to take advantage of his ability to get to the rim and apply major pressure on the rim. His ability in the drive-and-kick game in particular is good and ought to serve him well in the NBA.
Shooting and man-to-man defense are going to be main areas he will need a lot of work on in the NBA. In Summer League, defense is not too big of a thing so I imagine this will not be as much of an emphasis here. Shooting, however, is going to be the one area that the team and us fans should be paying attention to from the jump. While Ivey’s 35.8% seemed fine on paper, his three-point shot dipped to 30.8% on 5.1 attempts per game when the calendar turned to 2022 (this was Ivey’s final 23 games). Then, it fell even further down in the final half of the season where Ivey shot 29.8% from three on 5.2 attempts per game. Ivey also took VERY little attempts in the mid-range with just 27 of his 441 field goal attempts coming from the mid-range. He was also only 8 of 39 on his dribble pull-up shots this past season.
I saw all this NOT to harp on Ivey, but to point out what to watch for here in the Summer League. I am CERTAIN Ivey and Duren are going to throw down some of the sickest dunks this Summer League, I am CERTAIN Ivey is going to break double teams due to his superior speed. I am also CERTAIN he’ll get a good amount of steals and assists by being a superior athlete. BUT, the areas we all should be looking at and what I sure the team would love to see from Ivey is being able to attack off the dribble when the defense cuts off his path to the basket and being able to CONSISTENTLY knock down open jumpers and cause the defense to closeout hard when Ivey is off-ball.
Thank you as always for reading and supporting us here at Detroit Bad Boys. You help makes this the best site for Pistons related content. Here’s to an entertaining, safe, and fully healthy Summer League and here’s to finally being able to scream DEE-TROIT BASKET-BALL again wherever you watch the games!