By Mark Wilson
June 26, 2015

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver walks up to the podium at the Barclays Center with that card in his hand.

With each stride, you know we were thinking the same thing.

Just say Justise Winslow’s name and let’s all go do something else.

The Detroit Pistons had the eighth pick in the 2015 NBA Draft and Winslow seemed like the ONLY choice with what was on the board. There was NO other selection.

Even though Stanley Johnson’s name had been mentioned, it felt like a long shot that Pistons President and Coach Stan Van Gundy would go that route with Winslow available.

Surely, SVG would make the healthy, logical choice of the talented, hard-nosed Duke forward.

Alas, these are the Pistons and nothing is logical anymore. We left logic behind with Michael Curry and Mo Cheeks.

Silver got to the podium and looked down at his card.

“With the 8th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft— the Detroit Pistons select… Stanley Johnson from the University of Arizona.”


I could hear the collective groans all the way out here to Southern Nevada.

On one of the network radio shows covering the draft, a host and former NBA player said, “Huh? With Winslow out there? Terrible pick.”

Welcome to… “terrible pick.”

The Pistons needed to make the RIGHT pick; not the TERRIBLE one.

Rumors have circulated that Winslow tanked any opportunity he had to meet with Van Gundy and his staff. Justise, from Houston, Texas, supposedly had zero interest in playing his pro basketball in Motown, the state of Michigan, or anywhere he was unfamiliar with.

You know, it gets cold in Michigan in the winter.

Insert eye roll here.

How many times is the winter weather in Detroit going to be a thing? It’s cold in Chicago and New York and Boston and Philly and you rarely hear an athlete use that as an excuse.

It’s used in Detroit to be politically correct and not offend the city. What most mean is, they want nothing to do with the perceived degradation of the Motor City.

Obviously it doesn’t help that the Pistons have now been insignificant and irrelevant for the past seven years. It seems like a lifetime ago that Flip Saunders “had to go” because he couldn’t get the Pistons past the Eastern Conference Finals.

Hold on, I need a second when I see that in print. Laughter ensues.

Ok, I’m good now.

NO wait, STILL laughing.

Ok… NOW I’m good.

Winslow didn’t want to come here for weather, crappy team and probably a myriad of other reasons. He’s a Houston native. I’ve lived in Houston. It IS another world from Detroit.

He went from Southern Texas to Durham, North Carolina. That’s all he knows.

So, on his big draft night he’ll be damned if he is going to hear his name called by the Pistons.

You know what I say to THAT?


Draft him anyhow.

I’d rather have an extremely talented, pissed off hoops forward than take a lesser talent who may have said all the right things just to “up” his draft standing and how much money he’ll make.

Not saying that Stanley Johnson is that guy but come on; the dude rose to the Pistons level because it was assumed that Winslow would be GONE by number eight.

A couple of mock drafts just two nights ago had Justise heading to the Knicks at number four.

Even then, I would have picked someone other than Johnson.

Stanley’s an ok player who did a nice job for Sean Miller in his one season

He averaged just south of 14 points and seven rebounds as a freshman in Tucson playing in a tough Pac 12. Not bad stuff at all. His defensive intensity was a reason for Van Gundy to want him in the Pistons’ fold.

Make no mistake however; Johnson ain’t Winslow.

I would rather have had Van Gundy say he was taking Johnson because they both have the first name of STAN.

Stan Johnson and Stan Van Gundy. That makes a little sense.

Stan (Johnson not Van Gundy), in his media conference call, said “He wants me to bring the competitive energy like LeBron,” referring to what the other Stan told him.

“We have all the pieces. We can’t make excuses for ourselves,” Johnson added.

All the pieces?

Dude, the Pistons lost 50 games last season. YOU aren’t the missing link that makes 50 losses automatically go away.

LeBron would be. Is HE available?

Van Gundy’s comments to the media were bordering on silly.

He mentioned those two words Detroit loves when talking up his first round prize.

“For our fans that go back to the Bad Boys era, this is their guy.”

How rude.

I may have to watch the ESPN “30 for 30” on Isiah, Laimbeer, Dumars, Rodman, etc. again just to get the stench of that statement out.

Stanley Johnson has as much connection to the “Bad Boys” as yogurt has to ice cream.

Heresy to “Three Championship Drive” to bring up that group with a rookie on draft night. I shudder.

Sean Miller is SVG’s buddy. Of course he wanted the Pistons to go with Johnson because he was afraid that Stanley might take a draft night tumble if he went past number eight.

Naturally Johnson wanted to “be here.” He knows that Tom Gores’ money is as green as anyone’s.

Maybe i was just that into Winslow that it’s a huge disappointment to see him on that big board and passed over for a small forward who has some work to do on his shooting, footwork and muscle mass before he rolls into an NBA starting position.

Justise went two picks later.

Miami was smart enough to not let Winslow go.

In his third collegiate game at Duke, I recall how he and Tyus Jones put Michigan State out of reach in the 81-71 Blue Devils victory back last November.

At that time, I told anyone that would listen to my lame butt that I wanted Winslow to be a Piston. He did nothing but get better and was every bit as important to Duke’s national championship run as Jahlil Okafor.

Oh well.

And, you can’t say I’m “Johnson hating.”

I picked his little Arizona unit to win that national title. I watched enough Wildcat hoops this past season to know Winslow is so much better than the Pistons’ pick.

Just like we did with Darko and Carmelo Anthony, Rodney White and Joe Johnson, Joey Harrington and Quentin Jammer in the NFL— we’ll always compare how Stanley Johnson does versus Justise Winslow in their NBA careers.

My advice to SVG?

You better be RIGHT, buddy boy.

In the second round (38th overall), Van Gundy tabbed Villanova shooting guard Darrun Hilliard II.

At 6-6, 215, Hilliard is just a touch smaller than Johnson will be on the wing. He’s also three years older. Hilliard played all four years at Nova.

Kind of a head shaker here too since SVG took Spencer Dinwiddie last year and Hilliard looks awfully similar to Dinwiddie.

ESPN’s band of NBA writers gave the Pistons a resounding “thumbs down” to this draft two-some. Since they only gave thumbs down to SEVEN of the 30 teams in the league, it doesn’t say a lot to the work Detroit’s staff did leading up to the draft.

Johnson and Hilliard come from successful programs. Hilliard was the leading scorer for Jay Wright’s Nova group who under-achieved in the NCAA Tournament.

Combined, their college teams went 67-and-7 in 2014-15.


When it comes to big time college victories translating to NBA domination, it just doesn’t pan out. Ask Grant Hill who has rings from Duke but couldn’t duplicate in the pros.

With or without Greg Monroe, Van Gundy still has a huge task ahead of him in getting the Pistons back to being a post-season contender.

Andre Drummond is a special player and even though Reggie Jackson was a nice add once Brandon Jennings went down with injury, this team is a long ways away from convincing its fans that something magical is about to happen at the Palace.

Johnson and Hilliard are not David Copperfield’s.

Those guys will head off to Orlando for the NBA Summer League on the 4th of July.

Certainly won’t take long to see Johnson in action against Winslow since Miami will also be there. Could be some fireworks to match the spirit of the Independence Day holiday.

Then again, it may show nothing.

Not yet.

For now, I am allowed to be dejected that Justise will not be served on Metro Detroit. Johnson is just another first round pick that we have to hope can help change the fortunes of what is becoming a moribund franchise. But, I have to tell ya; it DOES make me wonder.

What if Winslow’s first name was… Stanley.