Detroit Pistons in the NBA Draft: The Battle of Best Fit vs. Best Available

MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 5: James Wiseman #32 of the Memphis Tigers . (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TN - NOVEMBER 5: James Wiseman #32 of the Memphis Tigers . (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons hold the #7 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Will they go down the path of best fit for the roster OR best available talent?

Judgement day for the Detroit Pistons’ first round draft selection has came and went which means all the hope built up within the fanbase has subsided to displeasure. The inordinate amount of time spent running Tankathon simulations were merely a mirage of false hope mixed with LaMelo Ball Motor City jersey edits.

The Pistons will select seventh in the upcoming draft on October 16 after being jumped by two teams with better regular season records (stand up Red Wings fans).

Unfortunately, the draft lottery has turned into a Super Bowl of an event for Pistons fans over the last decade even as the ping pong balls seem to have a vendetta against the franchise. Since 1993, the Pistons have been in the lottery 14 times and have not moved up once from their pre-lottery position in any of those years.

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Call it rotten luck or call it being too “good” to not have high enough odds to receive a top five pick – either way the Pistons haven’t been able to capitalize on a superstar with any of their selections over the past couple decades.

So what’s the game plan in 2020 in what most are calling a weak draft? While there may not be franchise changers at the top of the draft, there are plenty of serviceable players that I believe can have long NBA careers.

New Piston’s GM Troy Weaver recently said, “We don’t draft players. We draft people.” While Detroit seemed to take high character guys in the recent past, not all of them have panned out to living up to their high draft selection (ex. Stanley Johnson).

Weaver has showed he can be a great talent evaluator with his time in the Oklahoma City Thunder front office, but this draft will be his first test to see if he can snag the right guy.

So the question is: Should Weaver and the front office be focusing on roster fit or taking the best available talent? Last year, the Pistons took Sekou Doumbouya who was the best talent left at that point in the draft and may have represented a turn in the tide for the direction of the franchise.

Let’s look at the case for picking the best fit for the roster as the team definitely has some serious holes that will need filling over the course of the next couple seasons.

Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose’s contracts will expire soon with little chance of them being resigned. Luke Kennard and Christian Wood are intriguing young players, but still somewhat unproven at this point. So, as we stand today, nothing is set in stone for the future.

Dwayne Casey has already came out and said the team will look to address a need at point guard this offseason. This year’s crop of floor generals are interesting because there’s not one you can definitely say is far and away better than the next. Even consensus top pick, LaMelo Ball, has boom/bust written all over him.

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So which point guards will be available at seven? Assuming Ball and Anthony Edwards go in the top six, that would leave Killian Hayes, Tyrese Haliburton, Tyrese Maxey, Kira Lewis Jr., among others potentially left to choose from.

The Pistons have been looking for a franchise point guard since the departure of Chauncey Billups in 2008. Whether or not that player will come from this draft is still to be determined but don’t be surprised if they reach to fill that point guard void.

Another area of need is at the center spot with Andre Drummond recently being dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Drafting a center this high may be an unpopular move based on the fanbase’s mixed feelings towards Drummond at the end of his tenure in Detroit, however, James Wiseman is  the wild card of this draft and could fill the void left in that role.

Wiseman possesses the size and skillset that fits the modern NBA. He would fit well with the young core of Pistons and has the potential to be the steal of the draft if developed properly.

Now, here’s why I believe drafting the best available player is an easy choice for the Pistons. To put lightly, the team is far away from championship contention. Drafting players based on fit to the roster is what teams do that are already built for a playoff run.

With the luxury of a top seven pick and many holes on the roster to fill, it should be as easy as simply picking the best available player on the team’s big board. No player on the current roster is untouchable, meaning they can all be replaced. Also, the team can fill temporary roles in free agency.

If it happens to be where the best player available is there to take AND it fills a hole in the roster, then great. However it would be disappointing to see us reach for a point guard or center with the pick just to fill a temporary hole.

For example, Deni Avdija is a high upside pick but doesn’t exactly fill a role on the roster immediately. Hypothetically, the Pistons have players on the wing that would get more minutes than Avdija but may not have the long term potential that he possesses.

If the Pistons are able to hit that sweet spot of a player who can fill a need and has long term potential then they’ve struck gold but it looks like they may need some luck for that player to fall.

There’s still plenty of time left for prospects to rise and fall from draft boards, but with the uncertainty of a scouting combine happening at all may cause a little less movement than previous years.

What is certain is the Pistons have plenty of time to decide on the right player, fit or no fit.

Next. How some former Detroit Pistons have fared in the NBA bubble. dark