Detroit Pistons draft preview: 3 options with the No. 1 pick

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The Detroit Pistons had a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. That’s exactly what came to fruition when the lottery was held, setting up a franchise-altering moment for general manager Troy Weaver. Below, we look at three options for the Pistons with said selection while previewing their draft

Detroit Pistons 2021 NBA Draft picks

  • First round, 1st pick
  • Second round, 37th pick (from Toronto)
  • Second round, 42nd pick (from Charlotte)
  • Second round, 52nd pick (from Los Angeles Lakers)

Detroit Pistons draft Cade Cunningham

detroit pistons draft preview: cade cunningham
Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Oregon State Beavers guard Julien Franklin (22) drives the ball while Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) defends during the first half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

This seems to be the likeliest scenario. It could also pretty much be a foregone conclusion that Cunningham will end up being the eventual face of the Pistons’ rebuild. He’s reportedly not going to meet with any other team ahead of the July 29 draft. This seems to be a clear indication Cunningham expects to be the top pick. For good reason.

The 6-foot-8 Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 40% from distance for the Cowboys a season ago. He’s a large ball-handler who can play all three perimeter positions. For a Detroit team that boasts the likes of youngsters Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, this makes too much sense. Primarily, the 6-foot-8 Cunningham teaming up with another big guard in Hayes (6-foot-5). That would create major mismatches on both ends of the court.

Detroit Pistons draft Evan Mobley

detroit pistons draft preview: evan mobley
Mar 30, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; USC Trojans forward Evan Mobley (4) handles the ball against Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) during the first half in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps, Weaver looks to team the aforementioned Stewart up with another defensive-minded big in Mobley. The USC product is already seen as a top-notch defender and has untapped potential on the offensive end. The former top-three recruit averaged 16.4 points and 8.7 rebounds as a freshman for the Trojans, leading them to a deep run in the NCAA Tournament in the process.

The idea here would be to form a tremendous core four in Mobley, Stewart, Bey and Hayes. While Mobley might struggle out of the game (see: James Wiseman last season), he does have more experience than his counterpart and offers just as much upside. The only issue with this selection is that Detroit would be taking a chance that Cunningham is going to morph into a legit All-Star player while Mobley joins other young bigs in struggling after being high selections.

Detroit Pistons trade first pick

detroit pistons draft preview
May 13, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Orlando Magic guard R.J. Hampton (13) shoots against the Atlanta Hawks in the first quarter at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This is obviously something Weaver will have to consider given how top heavy the 2021 NBA Draft is. Moving down a few spots could still net the Detroit Pistons someone like Jalen Green or Jonathan Kuminga — two budding stars who performed well playing in the NBA G-League.

A move of this ilk would also enable Detroit to acquire future draft assets and potentially a young player to add to its core. It’s pure conjecture, but the Orlando Magic could make sense as a trade-down partner. They have the fifth and eighth picks in the draft and a future first-round pick from the Chicago Bulls. Orlando also has youngsters in R.J. Hampton and Wendell Carter Jr., who might entice the Pistons.

Detroit Pistons draft preview: Building more talent

The obvious choice for Detroit at No. 1 is the aforementioned Cunningham. It just makes too much sense to team him up with Killian Hayes.

Even then, Detroit has a lot of options as it looks to rebuild an organization that has earned two organization over the past dozen years. Detroit also boasts three second-round picks it could use to move up back into the first round after making three first-round selections a season ago. Again, there’s a ton of options for Troy Weaver and Co.

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Author: Vincent Frank

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