The story was of little consequence to Pistons rookie Luke Kennard. It drew nothing more than a shrug and a smile.

But maybe he could take some solace in it nevertheless.

Before Tayshaun Prince became one of the heroes of the Pistons 2004 championship team, he was a first-round draft pick buried on the depth chart much like Kennard is right now. Not only did Prince not play in games during his rookie season (2002-2003), he barely played in practice.

Often coach Rick Carlisle would scrimmage and do game drills with the first two units, leaving Prince to watch from the baseline.

Yet, Prince stayed engaged, soaked up everything that was being taught. And when Carlisle, out of desperation, threw his long-armed rookie into the fire during the playoffs, Prince made an immediate impact and wound up starting 490 of 492 games over the next six seasons.


“There have been guys who didn’t play for years and became good players,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Jermaine O’Neal in Portland never got off the bench for three or four years and then all of a sudden, he’s an all-star.