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Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:50

Muscle draftees could have immediate impact

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After three consecutive playoff appearances, the Detroit Muscle entered the 2026 draft in the unfamiliar position of trying to find players who could have an immediate impact on the roster this year.  Eschewing the team's normal focus on balanced players who don't get into foul trouble, the Muscle instead picked a pair of talented guards who have great motors and can put up some points, but have weaknesses on the defensive end and might have some trouble staying on the floor for big minutes due to fouls.

With the #14 pick, the Muscle selected 20-year-old Blair Bedard, a 6'4" sophomore shooting guard from Northwestern.  After a pedestrian freshman year, Bedard burst onto the Big Ten scene in 2026, averaging 15.6 ppg in just under 26 mpg for the Wildcats.  Bedard attributed his rise from an obscure freshman to an OBWL player to a work ethic that his coach labeled as "the best I've ever seen from any 20-year-old kid I've ever coached."  Bedard is a fairly strong post player, with an already OBWL quality inside game and an uncanny knack of getting to the foul line.  The rest of his game will need some development.  Once he fills out, the Muscle see Bedard as a fringe-average defender at SG with some rebounding and steal skills.  Despite the fact that he needs significant development, his offensive skills are unquestioned and the Muscle, of course, have had one of the OBWL's most dreadful offenses for the past several seasons.  Muscle GM Mark Sands indicated that Bedard will have "every opportunity to compete for the starting SG job for us in training camp.  This is a very talented young man who we think can put up points and have an immediate impact in Detroit."  Bedard will be in close competition with last year's starter Mark Olivas, who has yet to fulfill the promise he showed to be the 8th overall pick in the 2023 draft.  Olivas showed some defensive talent but had an inefficient 12.1 ppg in 25.9 mpg in his first season as a full-time starter in 2025.

The Muscle are also excited about the guard they picked up in the second round with the 40th pick, the 2026 National Player of the Year and two-time first-team all-conference PG Walker Schroeder from San Diego State University.  Schroeder was a very highly-regarded recruit as a High School All American and Mr. Basketball California.  Schroeder made an immediate impact with the Aztecs, starting every one of his 133 career college games.  By his senior year, Schroeder was the consensus best player in college basketball, able to both score very efficiently (10.8 ppg in 31.6 mpg on 51.7% shooting) and was one of the best playmakers in the game (8.9 apg and an a/to ratio of 3.11).  Schroeder has great athletic skills, can draw fouls, and is a dangerous shooter anywhere on the floor, his skills on the defensive end range from "totally useless" to "maybe he can generate some steals someday."  And so, despite his talent and college pedigree, he fell out of the first round and right into the lap of the Muscle.  "We needed a guy who could play maybe a dozen minutes behind (2026 All-Star PG) Xavier Remington," stated GM Sands.  "We think Walker can make a difference for us off the bench on day one.  The kid can score and distribute the ball as well as any veteran we could possibly sign.  He might not put up big numbers, but this is a kid who could have a 10, 15 year career and a key player on any team in this league.  And we are very excited to have him here in Detroit.

With free agency well underway, the Muscle look to use their mid-level exception on either a SG to compete with Bedard and Olivas or a SF to start and allow them to move undersized SF Blaine Fitzwater back to his more natural shooting guard position.  The team will also probably add a depth player at PG.  Rumor has it that the team is considering bringing back Tobias Collins, a fan favorite who has spent his entire 12-year career with the Muscle.

 

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