Participating in the Locked On NBA mock draft

Mar 23, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (35) and Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen (10) react after losing to Xavier during the semifinals of the West Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports
Mar 23, 2017; San Jose, CA, USA; Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (35) and Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen (10) react after losing to Xavier during the semifinals of the West Regional of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at SAP Center. Mandatory Credit: Michael Chow/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports /

This week as part of my duties as host of Locked On Pistons, I participated as the Detroit Pistons GM in the Locked On NBA mock draft.

It was my distinct pleasure to take part in the first ever Locked On NBA mock draft as the GM of the Detroit Pistons. Per my duties as host of the Locked On Pistons podcast, I was responsible for the 12th pick and any trades that might be made for that pick.

I assessed shooting as the Pistons’ single biggest need and both shooting guard and power forward as the biggest positional needs. For the purposes of prospective trades, I also deemed nobody untouchable and I was willing to make deals that either improved talent or provided cap relief.

While I wasn’t planning on trading up or down in the draft and expected to make the 12th pick as planned, when the Dallas Mavericks were on the clock with the 9th pick, they (Locked On Mavs host Isaac Harris) approached me to make a deal. They opened with Wes Matthews for Jon Leuer and the 12th pick, which was obviously out of the question and the numbers don’t match regardless.

Related Story: Are the Pistons planning to move up to draft Dennis Smith?

I countered, suggesting that adding Seth Curry would be a good starting point, and the discussion was on. By the end of our negotiation, we had agreed to a deal sending Stanley Johnson and Marcus Morris to the Mavs along with the 12th overall draft pick in exchange for Seth Curry, Dwight Powell and the 9th overall draft pick.

While I was intending to draft one of the trio of Donovan Mitchell, Luke Kennard and Zach Collins (in that order, depending on availability) at 12, with the 9th pick I was able to draft perhaps my favorite long-shot pick Lauri Markkanen. He’s the 8th ranked prospect according to DraftExpress, a power forward standing at a formidable 7′ and 230 lbs.

He’s a dead-eye shooter, hitting 42.3 percent of his threes in his freshman season at Arizona. He’s one of the best shooting prospects in the draft and one of the best three-point shooters in NCAA history among players standing 6’10” or taller.

While the Detroit Pistons have guys like Jon Leuer, Henry Ellenson and now Dwight Powell (per this mock) already at the four, none of them can space the floor like Markkanen. He also has the ability to slash and drive off the dribble, something which the others have no tendency to do.

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As for the incoming players, last season Powell averaged 6.7 points and 4 rebounds in 17 minutes per game. He doesn’t stretch the floor at the four, but let’s be honest, neither does Leuer. Powell hit just 28.4 percent of his threes on low volume, but shot 51.5 percent overall from the floor and 75.9 percent from the free throw line.

Last season Powell played just 15 percent of his minutes at the four and the remaining 85 percent at the five, but the season before he played 70 percent of his minutes at the four so he has the capacity to switch back and forth if needed. Powell makes $9 million this season and $28 million over the next three seasons, but this trade could make Jon Leuer and his $10.5 million this season expendable via trade.

Seth Curry is a player I hoped the Pistons would target last summer, even before the Mavs signed him for a pittance of a two-year $6 million contract. Curry had a coming out party, hitting 42.5 percent of his threes (a touch better than his brother Stephen Curry who hit 41.1 percent). He started 42 of the 70 games he played last season, averaging 12.8 points per game.

Curry could provide relief behind Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at the two while playing the one in some lineups, particularly configurations otherwise bereft of shooting such as times when Leuer or Powell are on the floor with Andre Drummond and Tobias Harris is off the floor.

Speaking of Drummond, Curry is dynamic as a pick and roll ball handler, scoring .993 points per possession. Curry would automatically plug in as both the best three-point shooter and the best pick and roll ball handler on a roster that struggled with both last season.

As for the Detroit Pistons’ outgoing pieces, Stanley Johnson is coming off a sophomore slump of a season last year. His defense eventually rounded into form, but his shooting regressed from his rookie season. While he has plenty of upside and may yet be an excellent NBA player, he may do better with a change of scenery.

Marcus Morris is the final outgoing piece of this deal. While he had a great February (averaging 18.1 points on shooting splits of .462/.397/.800), on the whole his season was wildly disappointing. On the season he averaged 14 points per game, shooting just 41.8 percent from the floor and 33.4 percent from the three-point line.

He adds very little in the rebounding department, grabbing just 4.6 rebounds per game with a rebounding percentage of 7.8 as a starting forward. That puts him in the bottom 20 of all forwards in the NBA playing 20 minutes per game or more and appearing in 50 games.

Morris was a decent defender and his team friendly contract (he’s due $10.375 million over the next two seasons) will be missed, but in the face of what the Detroit Pistons add in return with this deal, it’s a sacrifice I was willing to make.

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We’re discussing this deal and the 7-12 picks on the NBA Reddit page in AMA format. You can go to Reddit here if you’ve got questions about this deal or the pick. You can also listen to the Locked On NBA Mock Draft podcast embedded below for more background.