DETROIT -- The Pistons likely will use the No. 8 pick in the draft on a very tall man you have never seen. This is, of course, much better than if they chose a very short armadillo you have never seen. But I suspect most fans are wary.
Many fans see the names Enes, Jonas, Bismack, Jan and Donatas, and they think "Darko" Never mind that Bismack, like Darko, is an awesome name, especially for a superhero. This is a different era. The world has changed since the Pistons blew the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft on Darko Milicic. They will make a much more informed decision this time.
They still could blow it, but the chances of the Pistons blowing their pick by taking a foreign player are about the same as their chances of making a mistake on an American college player.
Duke point guard Kyrie Irving will go No. 1. Arizona forward Derrick Williams likely will go No. 2. Utah is No. 3.
Two other point guards -- Kentucky's Brandon Knight and Connecticut's Kemba Walker -- likely will be drafted before the Pistons pick.
That means the Pistons almost certainly will choose from the following pool: Enes Kanter, a Turkish center who went to Kentucky this year but was ineligible; Jonas Valanciunas, a Lithuanian center/forward; Jan Vesely, a Czech forward; Bismack Biyombo, a Congolese forward who has been compared -- defensively and (gasp) offensively -- to Ben Wallace; and Donatas Motiejunas, a Lithuanian 7-footer who will have to make at least six All-Star teams before American sports writers learn how to spell his name.
Kanter probably will be gone by No. 8, but forget that for a moment. At least two of those guys should be available, and the Pistons probably will take one.
Again, I don't know if they will get it right. But thanks to advances in video and the Internet, they can watch dozens of complete games online for prospects. Not just highlights. Not just workouts. Entire games. A company called Synergy Sports provides most of the video to every NBA team.
A decade ago, NBA teams might have had one scout in Europe sending reports to the States on the Mayflower. These days, American scouts and general managers regularly travel to Europe. Executives from every team in the lottery should have seen each top European prospect at least a half-dozen times. That was not the case in 2003.
In mid-June, the European equivalent of the Chicago predraft camp will be held in Treviso, Italy. The best European players will either interview with teams there or elsewhere.
To sum up, the Pistons can see the players in person, in meaningful competition. They can watch video of their games, just like they do with college prospects. They can e-mail them. They can go on Facebook and play Scrabble with them. And they can talk to them in person.
And they can be wrong about them. And fans are entitled to be skeptical or excited or anything in between. That's part of the fun. But if you say "Oh, no, not ANOTHER tall European man I've never seen before," I think that is a mistake. This isn't online dating.
What's funny is that the No. 1 overall pick, Irving, played 11 college games. He took only 104 shots. Yet Irving is seen as a safe No. 1 pick, while the European players -- who have played many more games against high-quality competition -- are a risk.
Hey, I'd take Irving No. 1, too. But if the Pistons draft Enes, Jonas, Bismack, Jan or Donatas, just remember: You may not know much about them, but the Pistons do. Or at least, they should.