The Latest from Priority Sports
The Latest from Priority Sports
AUBURN HILLS – If you had to pick the lone lottery team to host Tyler Lydon for a draft workout, the Pistons would be a logical call.
For a team that finished 28th in 3-point percentage – and one coached by the guy who essentially triggered the advent of the modern stretch four during his time in Orlando a decade ago – the appeal of Syracuse’s Lydon is evident.
Lydon, a Syracuse sophomore, was the only player among the six the Pistons brought in Wednesday who projects as a first-round candidate. At 6-foot-10, Lydon not only shot 39 percent from the 3-point arc last season but 39 percent of his field-goal attempts came from the arc.
So while the Pistons always feature a shot-centric draft workout – Michigan’s Derrick Walton Jr. compared it to those under John Beilein, a devotee of shooting drills, after Tuesday’s workout – you can bet their eyes were focused more on other aspects of Lydon’s game.
He’s aware teams are looking more to see if he can do enough in other areas of his game to get on the floor and then let his shot make it hard to take him off of it.
“I think the biggest thing right now is how I can put the ball on the floor and make plays for other guys, but also my ability to defend and how comfortable I feel doing it,” Lydon said of his mindset during the 11 workouts he’s endured to date. “Coming from Syracuse” – where, under Jim Boeheim, the Orange are an exclusively zone team – “that’s a big question mark. I’m just trying to go in and prove to teams that I can do that and that I’m willing to work at it. Obviously, I have to get a lot better, but I still feel pretty comfortable.”
At 6-foot-9½, Lydon doesn’t have the length (a 7-foot-0 wing span, short of ideal for an NBA power forward) to suggest he could evolve into a rim protector, but if he shows he can move his feet and hold up adequately in pick-and-roll switches, he’ll have a shot to push his way into the teens. The 12th pick, where the Pistons are picking? Lydon’s agent – he’s with Priority Sports, headed by longtime NBA agent Mark Bartlestein – is telling him mid-teens to early 20s, but the opportunity to work out for a team in the lottery might indicate Lydon could be a draft-night surprise if you’re following mock drafts. Among Lydon’s workout partners: Gonzaga freshman Zach Collins, who might not last to the 12th pick.
Lydon knows enough about Stan Van Gundy’s history with stretch fours – Rashard Lewis was the pioneer on Orlando’s team that would eventually play in the 2009 NBA Finals – to be intrigued by the chance to play for him.
“He’s been doing it now for so long with these stretch fours,” Lydon said. “I’d obviously love for the opportunity to come in here and play for him and learn from a guy like that.”
Among the five other players – all of whom are more than likely to go undrafted, befitting a Pistons team without a second-round pick – were two with local ties: Michigan senior wing Zak Irvin and Central Michigan’s diminutive scoring guard Marcus Keene.
Keene, 5-foot-9, said he’s hearing the names of Boston All-Star Isaiah Thomas and 2016 second-round pick Kay Felder of Oakland University plenty as he makes the rounds.
“I looked up Kay Felder just because he got to go to the league before I had the chance,” said Keene, who averaged 30.0 points at CMU this season a year after Felder averaged 26.5 for OU and was drafted by Cleveland. “I really watched him a lot because I know I could do the same thing he did to get to this spot. Even Tyler Ulis. Watching them three has really motivated me and helped me to get where I’m at right now.”
Irvin’s workout with the Pistons was his ninth, he said, with New Orleans up next and one more scheduled.