As the 2014 NBA Draft gets closer, there has been plenty of attention on former Michigan State stars Gary Harris and Adreian Payne. However, I encourage people to not forget about the other Spartan in this year’s draft, Keith Appling.
The former Detroit Pershing star had an injury to his right wrist in the second half of his senior season which some people feel derailed his draft stock. However, Appling is now healthy and he isn’t letting anything stop him from producing well in his NBA workouts.
“Once you see one guy step it up competitively as far as the competitiveness, you always want to raise your level and keep things balanced,” Appling said. “And I feel like each and every guy did that today. That’s what made the workout go so much better.”
Appling said the two things he wants to show teams are that he’s healthy and that he can be a lock-down defender at the next level.
“I feel like it’s not a lot of guys that want to do it on a consistent basis, but I feel that’s something that comes naturally to me and something I can do on a consistent basis,” Appling said.
In the last week, Appling has worked out with multiple NBA teams. According MLive.com, Appling has already worked out with Phoenix, Toronto and Minneapolis and he is also scheduled to work out with the Pistons this week.
Now at this point, Appling is considered to be a second-rounder, so whoever drafts Appling is probably looking at him as a back-up point guard, who could eventually develop into a starter or at least a key role player.
Which is why I feel Appling could do well with teams like the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors, who he has already worked out with. When you talk about the Suns and the Raptors, you’re talking about teams who have already starting point guards in Eric Bledsoe (Phoenix) and Kyle Lowry (Raptors). However, there is no guarantee that either point guard will stay there for the long haul. So by drafting Appling, the Suns or the Raptors would get someone who can run a team as a back-up point but at the same time, they also get someone they can develop into a possible starting point guard. Appling obviously has plenty of things to work on, like his shaky and inconsistent jumper, not to mention his free-throw shooting but at the same time, he is a stronger finisher at the rim, who has good speed in the open court. He can be solid NBA player with the right development and in the right role.
Now I know Appling has a workout scheduled with the Detroit Pistons this week and while I understand and even like the idea of the hometown kid joining the hometown team. I must say as of right now, it wouldn’t be smart for the Pistons to draft Appling.
Mainly because the Pistons have to many point guards as it is. Let’s remember that as of right now, the Pistons have five point guards on the roster, those point guards being Brandon Jennings, Chauncey Billups, Will Bynum, Peyton Siva and even Rodney Stuckey who some people consider him to be combo guard. The Pistons only have one pick in this draft (38th pick in the 2nd Round), and while I normally wouldn’t mind them spending that pick on a point guard, the Pistons don’t need a point guard right now, if anything, they need to get rid of some point guards.
Appling may have never turned into the explosive top player at the college like so many envisioned but there is no doubt that he has the potential to be a solid player at the next level. However, like so many others it will depend on who he is drafted by and how he is developed and Appling’s agent, Michael Silverman agrees.
Silverman said Appling is completely healthy at this point and has plenty to offer.
“He was a lock as an early- to mid-second round pick,” Silverman said. “Then he had the drop-off the last half of the year. But I don’t think there is any question he is an NBA player. I think teams are excited to see him as the guy he was (before the injury).
“It only takes one team. … All I know is he can defend the ball, can run the team and can take the ball to the rack.”
If for whatever reason, Appling is not drafted in this year’s NBA Draft, he will still have a chance to play at the next level whether it be through the NBA D-League or by playing overseas.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit