Syracuse, NY – It would have been easy for the Detroit Pistons to sign Buddy Boeheim without seeing him play all of last season.
After all, Detroit general manager Troy Weaver was an assistant coach at Syracuse University. So is Pistons assistant general manager Rob Murphy. John Beilein, the team’s senior advisor for player development, is the former Le Moyne College coach whose son, Patrick, coached the Syracuse Stallions last season and is now the coach at Baldwinsville High School.
Pistons bosses could have signed Boeheim as a favor to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim; Former boss of Weaver and Murphy and Beilein’s long-time friend.
Instead, the Pistons, Murphy in particular, diligently scouted Boeheim before signing the Syracuse guard to a two-way deal shortly after the end of the NBA draft last Thursday.
WATCH: Detroit Pistons sign Buddy Boeheim from Syracuse in two-way deal
Murphy, who coached at Syracuse from 2004 to 2012, saw Syracuse in person four times last season. He calculated to see another 20 or 22 games on television.
Then in May, Murphy and Weaver scouted Boeheim at the NBA G-League combine in Chicago. Ultimately, the Pistons brought Boeheim in for a pre-draft workout.
“Coming into the season, we identified him as a 3-point shooter,” Murphy said. “He was someone that we knew he had the ability to shoot from distance, which is NBA level. We wanted to watch him and see how he developed other parts of his game.
“I had watched him grow up and become a true Division I player. Then the improvement he showed over the course of his four years at Syracuse, we thought there was something there.
“When Troy talked about him after seeing him, he thought his game still had room to grow.”
The final vote cast in favor of signing Boeheim came after the 6-foot-6 guard’s pre-draft workout with the team. He came from Detroit coach Dwane Casey.
“After Buddy came in and worked out,” Murphy said, “Coach Casey really thought he could play at this level, too.”
Boeheim led the ACC in scoring last season, averaging 19.2 points per game. Boeheim finished his career with 309 three-pointers; the second-highest total in Syracuse history.
His 3-point shooting percentage dropped from 37% in sophomore year and 38% in third year to just 34% last year. That didn’t faze Murphy.
“When you look at Buddy percentages; note that we break down what kind of shots he took, where they came from, were they contested, if not,” Murphy said. “When you’re on the floor with pro players, we feel like his percentages would go up because he’s going to get a lot more open shots compared to the guy that everyone is focused on and the guy that tops the scouting report. that everyone is trying to stop.
“We think his shooting ability is at the NBA level,” he added. “We think he can become an elite shooter at this level.”
The Pistons weren’t alone in their evaluation of Boeheim. According to one source, four teams were ready with bilateral deal offers as the draft drew to a close Thursday night.
The two-way deal Boeheim signed with Detroit means he will spend at least half the season with the Pistons and the rest with the team’s G-League affiliate. Boeheim will begin the process by playing for Detroit’s entry into the NBA summer league, which takes place July 7-17 in Las Vegas.
“He will have the opportunity to play NBA games,” Murphy said.
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