With Dwight Howard, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, and Joe Johnson dominating the free agency headlines, it’s easy to overlook moves done by small market teams involving lesser-known players.
One move that will likely fly under the radar this offseason is one by the Pistons, as they signed a verbal agreement with Ukranian center Vycachslav Kravtsov this past week. After playing overseas for the past six seasons, the 7′, 260 pound big man will sign the actual contract once the contract moratorium period is over on July 11.
Having Kravtsov on the roster is one more step in fortifying the team’s overall frontcourt athleticism and length, with rookie Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe as two other viable options at center or power forward.
This snippet from DraftExpress’ scouting report should get Pistons fans excited about adding the 25-year old center:
- “He runs the floor extremely well, moves laterally quickly and fluidly, and is absolutely explosive around the basket, looking capable of tearing down the rim every time he goes up to finish. He’s also quick off his feet to contest or block shots, giving him virtually everything you could ask for physically from a player his size.”
With Monroe’s less-than-stellar defensive capabilities (less than a block per game average last season), having Kravtsov – and eventually Drummond if all goes well in his development – protecting the basket will help out the entire team’s defensive efforts. If forward Ben Wallace does decide to retire either this year or next, that type of skill will be necessary for them to become a legitimate contender once again.
While Drummond is expected to learn the NBA ropes over the next few seasons, the hope is that Kravtsov, with all of his international experience, will be able to contribute right away. He averaged 10.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22 minutes per game last season for BC Donetsk in the Ukranian league, but his main contribution to Detroit must be his defense and shot-blocking ability. His offensive moves may be limited, but when guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight penetrate the lane and draw defenders, he will be waiting under the basket for an easy dunk.
Kravtsov may not be the final piece in Detroit’s return to relevance, but adding another young, athletic center to the team’s core group of players is a very good start.
Photo credits: Detroit Free Press, NBATrky.com