Pistons Viewed Jordan Bone as a First Round Talent

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    (Photo via Austin Perryman/Tennessee Athletics)

    Jordan Bone’s path to the Detroit Pistons on draft night was quite confusing.

    Bone was drafted 57th overall in the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft last month by the New Orleans Pelicans. But that pick belonged to the Pistons – through a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. So, when Bone slipped to the end of the draft and was on the verge of going undrafted, Detroit traded back into the draft in order to snatch up the Tennessee point guard.

    “For us, we thought he was a first-round talent,” Pistons director of player personnel Gregg Polinsky said in an interview on the Pistons’ website. “It happens every year. There’s guys that I’m shocked (go late or undrafted).”

    As it was, Bone was selected No. 57 overall and was the third Vol to be taken in the 2019 NBA Draft. That night marked only the third time in UT history that the Vols had three players taken in the same NBA Draft.

    Bone was emotional when he found out he was being drafted, but Detroit had their eye on him for a while.

    According to Polinsky, Detroit saw plenty of Bone this past season at Tennessee. Maury Hanks, a scout for the Pistons, is based out of Knoxville. What they saw was the Nashville native have a breakout junior season.

    Bone averaged 13.5 points per game, 5.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds. He shot 46 percent from the field and 35 percent from three as he helped guide the Vols to a 31-6 record, tying the school record for the most wins in a single season.

    Bone finished with the third-most assists in a single season (215) in school history, and his 2.91 assist-to-turnover ratio this season set the school record for best assist-to-turnover ratio in a single season. As a result of his performance, Bone was voted a Second-Team All-SEC performer.

    During the course of his career, the 6-foot-3 point guard started 87 of the 95 games he played in and averaged 9.7 points. Bone averaged 4.3 assists and shot 42 percent from the field while shooting 35 percent from three.

    “Let’s just say any player sitting there on the board that you had ranked in your first round and is available – and possesses qualities that are hard to find in this league,” Polinsky said. “To have a speed guard, to have a guy that has elite quickness … we laugh, to go from zero to 60 like that.”

    Bone’s quickness was on full display as he showed off his elite athleticism at the NBA Combine in Chicago. He finished with the best time in both the lane agility test and the shuttle run. He then posted the best standing vertical leap measurement and finished second in the max vertical jump test. Bone was also the only player to make 100 percent of his shots during the break left portion of the shooting drills.

    While Bone’s resume was plenty impressive, the word of Rick Barnes carried a lot of weight with the Pistons heading into the draft.

    “He (Barnes) thinks the world of him,” Polinsky – who is close with Barnes – said.

    On Monday afternoon, Bone made his NBA Summer League debut with Detroit, coming off the bench in a No. 8 jersey. In a 102-84 win over the Pacers, the rookie scored six points in 16 minutes. He added four rebounds, two assists and a steal. He was 2-of-7 from the floor and 0-of-2 from three but made both his free throw attempts.

    Bone will be back in action on Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET as the Pistons take on the 76ers.

    Ben McKee
    Ben McKee is a graduate from the University of Tennessee and has a degree in Journalism and Electronic Media. He grew up an Army brat and lived in Alabama for a bit, but he bleeds orange. He covers Tennessee football, basketball, baseball, and the Lady Vols for RTI, and he's also a co-host on the RTI Live Show and RTI Podcast. You can also hear Ben on the morning sports radio show "The Swain Event." He's the producer and co-host along with former Vol wide receiver Jayson Swain.

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