The Pistons selected Henry Ellenson with the No. 18 pick in the 2016 NBA draft on Thursday.
Ellenson was the No. 7 recruit in the nation coming out of high school and nearly averaged a double-double for Marquette as a freshman last season. His 17 points per game led the Golden Eagles. Marquette struggled to an 8-10 finish in conference play and missed the postseason, limiting Ellenson's exposure compared to some of the other top members of his draft class. But his offensive skill set is as diverse as anyone in the class, and if he maxes that out, it’ll be enough to justify a top-10 pick.
Strengths: A versatile, offensive-minded big man, Ellenson can put the ball in the basket a number of ways and has potential to shoot the ball from deep (though he made just 28% of his threes at Marquette). With his agility and ability to put the ball on the deck and score, he has lots of mismatch potential at the NBA level. He draws comparisons to Kevin Love and may be more well-rounded offensively at this stage, though not the same type of rebounder or passer. He averaged 20 points per 40 minutes for Marquette, and all in all was one of the country’s best freshmen. His scoring instincts make him an appealing prospect as a modern big man.
Weaknesses: The questions here come on the defensive end, with Ellenson’s lateral quickness and foot speed. If he’s going to be a stretch four, he’ll in most cases have to guard a smaller forward and will be asked to switch on the pick and roll. If you put him at center, he’s not the most instinctive shot blocker or rotator. His size (7’2” wingspan, 9’0” standing reach) will help with this, but it’s going to take work to fit him into defensive concepts consistently.
Grade: A. After the draft got topsy-turvy, it settled back into another terrific value pick. Able to score on the block, put it on the deck and hit an open jumper, Ellenson was No. 6 on my Big Board and is one of the most offensively skilled bigs in the class. The Pistons need shooters around Andre Drummond, and Ellenson — also a good rebounder — seems tailor-made for what Stan Van Gundy likes to do. This was a no-brainer choice. — Jeremy Woo