Options for the Detroit Pistons in the 2020 NBA Draftby Dan Bennett November 13, 2020 0 comments
With the NBA Draft just around the corner, the Detroit Pistons will soon have to make a firm decision on how to best use the number seven pick.
It was ultimately a disappointing draft lottery for the team after failing to secure one of the top picks. With the Pistons having not made it past the Eastern Conference First Round since the 2007-08 season, fans are desperate for a turnaround and a top draft pick could help to make that happen.
Detroit crashed to a 20-46 record in a shortened last season. With the team’s main star in Blake Griffin missing the majority of the season after undergoing knee surgery, the struggles were clear and the franchise is searching for a way forward.
This year’s draft could be key to making that happen. There are several directions the Pistons could go in on draft night and making the right call will be vital if the team is to progress.
Staying at the seventh spot
The easy thing to do would of course be to stay at the current spot. With some doubts being cast over the potential and talent of top prospects like Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball, the Pistons could opt to take one of the many encouraging mid-lottery guys who could play without the pressure of being one of the very top picks.
With the team ranking 22nd for defensive rating at 112.3 points given up per 100 possessions and 20th for offensive rating with 108.8 points scored per 100 possessions, it is clear that improvement is needed all over the court. While there is less chance of getting the superstar every team wants, the Pistons could take their pick of a number of effective two-way players in this year’s draft.
Isaac Okoro out of Auburn is regarded as one of the best defensive prospects in the draft, while the size and potential of Florida State’s Patrick Williams could also help the team over the next few years even if not right away. There are 3 and D guys like Devin Vassell and Saddiq Bey, or a powerful frontcourt player in Onyeka Okongwu who could all be available. All have the ability to come in and make a solid contribution in the NBA.
But what could really turn this Detroit team around is a talented guard with the ability to handle the ball. Seven is still high enough that one of the draft’s most highly-rated guards in Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, or Killian Hayes could be available and if that is the case then the Pistons should not hesitate to select one of these three. Ball is unlikely to drop that far but with Hayes’ projected potential as a scorer and Haliburton’s defense and shooting, both would be welcome additions to a roster in which 32-year-old, injury-prone Derrick Rose is the primary point guard.
Our recent mock draft had versatile playmaking forward Deni Avdija falling to the Pistons at seven, which would also be something of a win for the team given he is widely touted to go higher.
Best option: Killian Hayes
If the Pistons really want to grab one of the best guard prospects in the draft, however, they will have to try to move up. With rumors swirling that both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors could be open to trading the number one and two picks respectively, moving up might be easier to do this year than most.
Should the front office decide to try to make a deal happen it may well have to involve Griffin. A trade with the Golden State Warriors along the lines of Griffin and the seventh for Andrew Wiggins and the second could work but acquiring the first pick from the Timberwolves might be trickier due to the limited trade assets on either side.
The Pistons could instead try to move up a couple of spots to ensure the team can grab Haliburton or Hayes, though the front office would have to be careful not to give up too much for the sake of only marginally moving up in the draft.
If a deal can be reached to move to the one or two spot in this year’s draft then the team could have the pick of one of Edwards, Ball, or James Wiseman, who are widely touted to be the top three picks. Edwards would provide explosive scoring, Wiseman a big presence in the paint, and Ball with excellent playmaking ability.
Any of these three prospects would have a positive impact on the team but if available, Ball’s playmaking and potential to grow as a scorer would make sense as the preferred option. His jump shot and defense need considerable work but he could step in as the team’s primary ball-handler and make those around him better with his passing.
If the team feels confident enough about his potential to improve and iron out his weaknesses, then a move should be made.
Best option: LaMelo Ball
Moving down or out completely
If the front office does not feel particularly great about any of the higher prospects in the draft or they want to take advantage of teams seeking to move up by securing an established NBA talent, trading down or out completely could be an option.
The Boston Celtics have three first-round picks and there is speculation the likes of the Orlando Magic might want to move up. Detroit could strike a good deal with a team lower down the order at the expense of drafting one of the more highly rated prospects.
A potential trade with the Celtics is particularly intriguing. The Pistons could look to acquire a solid player like Robert Williams or Daniel Theis, for example, as well as two or three draft picks albeit lower down the order. There are likely to be plenty of options for players that could be acquired by trading down or out completely.
But the key is whether any of these players are good enough to significantly improve the team. There have been countless numbers of trades over the years which have involved picks for players who would go on to achieve great things and have left the original team feeling embarrassed and frustrated.
If the Pistons feel that there is not enough of a difference between a prospect they can select in the middle of the draft compared to their seventh pick then getting a player and pick swap deal could make sense.
But given the Pistons’ current position, the draft is the best hope of improving. Ultimately the higher up you are, the more chance of getting someone who can change your franchise.
The front office certainly has a lot to think about between now and the draft. While they don’t have one of the top picks, using the seventh selection to draft well or strike the right deal could be key to making strides forward.
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