Breaking down the Pistons 2019 Summer League roster

The Pistons are bringing loads of talent into this year’s Summer League, with many familiar faces playing. A mix of young rotation pieces and a few undrafted flyers, many fans think that the Pistons’ roster will be strong enough to win the entire Summer League. 

For many, the names and faces seen throughout Summer League can be puzzling.  Pistons fans who are bracing to watch their team in Las Vegas should know who’s on the roster. We’ve broken down the team into guards and forwards, but expect the Pistons staff to want to test their young core on their ability to play multiple positions.

Guards

Bruce Brown, 6-5

After starting opening night and 55 other Pistons games as a rookie last season, Pistons fans can look at Brown as a core piece of their Summer League roster. He will easily be the player with the most NBA experience for the Pistons in Vegas. He’s known for his strength and defensive ability, but coach Dwane Casey played him often out of necessity. The Pistons staff needs to see an offensive improvement from Brown this summer, specifically shooting from the perimeter. 

Khyri Thomas, 6-3

Thomas was heralded as the Pistons’ most consistent player in last year’s Summer League, but injuries set him back. He was always a few steps behind this past season, but with good health Thomas can be another nice piece for the Pistons moving forward. He appeared in 26 games for the Pistons last season, totalling only 195 minutes. Thomas is another strong defender, but he’s a bit farther along offensively than Brown. This is a very important summer for Khyri Thomas if he wants to crack the rotation or see a future with the Pistons.

Svi Mykhailiuk, 6-8

As tall as Svi is, multiple reports have said that the Pistons are going to explore playing him as a ball handler in this year’s Summer League. Svi earned Summer League second team honors on the Lakers last season before being traded for Reggie Bullock at the trade deadline. Only appearing in 3 games for the Pistons last season, he’s regarded as a promising scorer with size. Like Thomas, Svi needs to play this summer and show off his versatility to the Pistons’ staff if he hopes to crack the 2nd unit this season.

Jordan Bone, 6-3

Bone was the 57th pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and the Pistons acquired his rights after having him in for pre-draft workouts. After playing three years at Tennessee, Bone declared for the draft and measured as one of the best athletes in the class. He’s a bit of an unknown commodity for the average fan, and most wouldn’t expect much from one of the last picks in the draft. Bone landed a two-way contract with the Pistons. He has promise, with athleticism that translates to the next level, along with a sound and smart offensive mind. 

Matt McQuaid, 6-6

McQuaid worked out for the Pistons prior to the draft, and it’s evident that they saw something in him that they liked to bring him along for this summer. At the moment, McQuaid’s chances of making the roster are very slim. He will need to be the best player on the floor for the Pistons or any team to come scoop him up to the pros. McQuaid impressed at Michigan State, shooting 42.2% from three last season and close to 40% on his career. He’s an above average athlete as well, and with a good showing in Vegas, could find himself on the Grand Rapids Drive next season.

Forwards

Sekou Doumbouya, 6-9

I profiled Sekou in my previous video/article here on Palace of Pistons. The Pistons 15th pick in this year’s draft comes to Detroit with a lot of excitement surrounding him. Doumbouya’s play in Vegas might be the most important of any player on the Pistons’ roster. It isn’t exactly clear where he will be in the rotation, with many fans and writers projecting him to start the season as a member of the second unit. Fans can also expect the Pistons to try him out at several positions, both guard and forward spots. The youngest player drafted, Doumbouya provides a great mix of speed, size, and skill. If he shows out this summer, and is farther along on his track to be NBA-ready than originally projected, it will be a blessing for the Pistons. 

Devidas Sirvydis, 6-9

The Pistons traded to pick up Sirvydis in the 2nd round of this year’s draft, and ESPN’s Mike Schmitz immediately pegged him as a “6-9 Luke Kennard.” Sirvydis hails from Lithuania and is known for his premier shooting stroke. He shot 46% on only 41 attempts in last years’ EuroCup league. As of right now, it is unclear whether Sirvydis will stay in the U.S. and play in the G League, or if he will be stashed and return to Europe for another season to develop. Sirvydis will be a mainly catch and shoot player on this Summer League roster, but he’s shown the ability to create and use screens to score effectively or use the big for drop offs and pocket passes.

Louis King, 6-9

The undrafted forward from Oregon was mocked everywhere from second round to even sneaking in to the end of the first round. King was a 39% shooter from three last season with the Ducks, where he also showed his NBA-level athleticism. The Pistons think very highly of King, immediately signing him to a two-way contract after the draft. He can score at all three levels, with the athleticism and length to project as a quality NBA defender. He will be an exciting player for the Pistons in Las Vegas. There are concerns about King off the court, which is the main reason why he slipped out of the draft, but if he is able to get his act together and continue on his development, he will eventually find his way onto an NBA roster. 

Jarrod Uthoff, 6-9

After averaging close to 17 points and 8 rebounds a game in the 17-18 season for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Pistons picked up Uthoff for this year’s Summer League. He is 26 years old, and went undrafted in 2016 after three seasons with the Iowa Hawkeyes, where he was a consensus second-team All American. He spent last season playing with Zenit Saint Petersburg in Russia. Uthoff is a veteran presence on what will be a very young Pistons team in Las Vegas. The Pistons, if you can’t tell already, absolutely loaded up on shooting for their Summer League roster, and Uthoff is another 3&D guy that will contribute and look to make an NBA roster. 

Bennie Boatwright, 6-10

Boatwright is another forward that can shoot for the Pistons, nailing 42.9% of his threes last year at USC. The former Trojan spent four years in college before going undrafted this year. The Pistons quickly picked him up for his shooting ability and size. Back in February, Boatwright had 36 points and 10 triples in a game against California. The Pistons will look at Boatwright as another player with potential to keep around, most likely to develop in Grand Rapids. There are questions about his defense and his limited athleticism. Boatwright will need to prove that he is more than just a catch and shoot player, and use his size to his advantage inside, both in scoring around the rim and protecting the rim.

Matt Costello, 6-10

Costello will likely be the lone center on the roster. Another journeyman who spent time in the G League and most recently in Italy, Costello is a Summer League standout every year. He’s known for his rebounding, but doesn’t really have the size to match up with a lot of NBA centers. Costello is a familiar name for Michigan State fans, as he spent 4 years there and went undrafted in 2016.

Filling out the remainder of the roster are Michael Bethea Jr. of the Grand Rapids Drive, Will Cherry of the Santa Cruz Warriors, Donta Hall from Alabama, Marcquise Reed from Clemson, and Todd Withers of the Grand Rapids Drive.

Projecting Lineups

The Pistons need to get a good look at the guys who could possibly contribute for them next season, and we can expect the players already on the roster to be the focal point of the rotation.

A potential starting lineup in Summer League could look like:

PG – Bruce Brown

SG – Khyri Thomas

SF – Svi Mykhailuk

PF – Sekou Doumbouya

C – Bennie Boatwright

The Pistons have lots of size and shooting, and a few different combinations of how they can play their guards. Don’t be surprised to see Svi, Khyri, or Bone playing the point at times during Summer League. Sekou will surely see minutes on the wing and forward spots, and maybe even a small ball center. King and Uthoff, both natural wings, may have to slide down and play a forward spot. The Pistons will most likely use McQuaid and Sirvydis in limited minutes as shooters to plug into defensive lineups to keep balance.

Conclusion

This summer will be huge for the Pistons young pieces to develop and take the next step. With third year guard Luke Kennard being established enough to sit this year’s Vegas trip out, the scoring will need to come from everywhere. It will be exciting to see rookie Sekou Doumbouya don the Pistons blue for the first time, along with a healthy Khyri Thomas for the first time since last Summer League. Detroit has established their core and identity by bringing in players with great size and shooting ability to lead them to the 2019 Summer League Championship.

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