By: Will Burchfield
When the Pistons selected forward Henry Ellenson 18th overall in this year’s draft, they felt he was a flat-out steal.
A number of NBA general managers would agree.
In a survey conducted by NBA.com polling the GMs on the best teams, players and coaches in the league, Ellenson was ranked the fourth biggest steal of the 2016 draft.
The 19-year-old out of Marquette averaged 17 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in the 2015-16 season and was named the unanimous Big East Rookie of the Year.
“We were really surprised,” said Stan Van Gundy after the Pistons drafted Ellenson. “He was a guy we had as basically no chance to get to 18. Everybody thought he was going to go higher so it was pretty surprising to us that he was still there, and we’re really, really happy.”
Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs was ranked the biggest steal of this year’s draft, ahead of Kris Dunn of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Patrick McCaw of the Golden State Warriors.
Here’s how the top five broke down:
1. Dejounte Murray (29), San Antonio – 23.3%
2. Kris Dunn (5), Minnesota – 16.7%
3. Patrick McCaw (38), Golden State – 13.3%
4. Henry Ellenson (18), Detroit – 10.0%
5. Marquese Chris (8), Phoenix – 6.7%
Another young Pistons player viewed favorably by opposing GMs is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Per the survey, the 23-year-old guard is due for a breakout season and is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
Caldwell-Pope has increased his scoring, rebounding and assist averages in each of his first three seasons. He is coming off a year in which he put up 14.5 points per game.
Other Pistons that gained mention in the survey were guard Ish Smith, who was voted one of the fastest players with the ball, and Stan Van Gundy, ranked as one of the best coaches in terms of making in-game adjustments.
Overall, the Pistons were pegged as the fifth best team in the East, with some GMs projecting Detroit to finish as high as third in the conference.
Here’s the breakdown, from NBA.com.
The Pistons open play on the road on Oct. 26 versus the Toronto Raptors before returning to Auburn Hills for their home opener on Oct. 28 versus the Orlando Magic. Here are their five most intriguing home games of the season.