Detroit Pistons: Grading the 2020 NBA Draft

Detroit Pistons first round pick Killian Hayes
Detroit Pistons first round pick Killian Hayes /
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The Detroit Pistons entered the night with only one pick in the 2020 NBA Draft; they  ended up with 4. Here is a grade on each of them for value and fit with the team, plus an overall team grade.

New Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver Jr. said, at a press availability last week, that his job was to ‘replenish the cupboard’. Considering the team only had eight players under contract going into draft night, there was plenty of space in that cupboard.

As of the start on Wednesday night, Detroit only had one draft pick, its own first rounder, No. 7 overall. By the time the clock struck midnight, Weaver had wheeled and dealed to add three more draft choices – two of them in the first round.

Weaver showed his Oklahoma City background. The Thunder GM, Sam Presti, is known to collect first-round draft choices like other people collect stamps. Presti has three 1sts in the next four consecutive drafts. Weaver also, it seems, likes to build through first-rounders.

The 2020 NBA Draft was not billed as strong at the top. No future stars like a LeBron James or Zion Williamson were expected out of this draft. However, the talent was thought to be pretty deep, with not much of a drop off as the first round went on. Weaver himself said earlier he did not see much difference between No. 3 and No. 14 in terms of ability.

An infusion of young talent is certainly welcome for a Pistons team that went 20-46 last season, and tailed off badly at the end.

Weaver spread the picks around in terms of position. His three first-round draft choices were, in order, a guard, a center and a forward. Of course, there is no position where the Pistons are deep, so  a good strategy to spread the draft picks around.

Of course, draft choices are basically prospects. None are a sure thing. In the cottage industry of the NBA Draft, there are plenty of opinions on what players should go in what slot, and what team is the best fit.

Here is a look at all four of the Pistons draft choices. They will be graded on overall value and fit, and future contribution with the team.

In reverse order of their selection:

38. Saben Lee, Vanderbilt, G

Detroit Pistons
Vanderbilt guard Saben Lee (0) drives down the court . /

The Detroit Pistons entered Wednesday night with no picks in the second-round. They had traded their own selection five-years earlier as part of the Reggie Bullock deal with the Phoenix Suns (the Lakers eventually gained it and Houston paid a reported $4.6 million to acquire that pick).

However, a trade with Utah, sent center Tony Bradley to Detroit along with the No. 38 overall selection, eighth in the second round.

The move was not a surprise. Before the draft, Weaver had talked openly how they were looking to find a way into the second round.

Detroit took Vanderbilt junior point guard Saben Lee with the newly acquired draft pick.

The 6-foot-2 point guard averaged 18.6 points, 4.2 assists and 1.5 steals for the Commodores last season. When top offensive threat Aaron Nesmith (taken 14th by Boston) was injured, Lee stepped up and scored 30 points or more in three of its final six games.

Lee is explosive and obviously has some offensive talent. However, he weighs just 175-pounds, which could give him problems on the defensive end. Lee does have an amazing 6-9 wingspan, so that will help him create steals.

Detroit believes it has its point guard of the future in Killian Hayes, so Lee could be seen as insurance and as a depth piece. With the trades of Bruce Brown and Tony Snell, and the release of Jordan Bone, the Pistons are a bit thin at guard.

Lee was a major reach for the Pistons, if you go by the media’s mock drafts. Neither CBS Sports or ESPN had him ranked in their top 50 prospects.  Sports Illustrated did not even have him getting drafted at all.

This evaluation is all on the Pistons scouting department. Apparently, they really like him.

As a two-way, Lee will get time to develop his defensive chops, work on gaining strength, and look to improve on his outside shot in Grand Rapids.

Although Lee has a lot of positive attributes, the Pistons are on a virtual island taking Lee this high in the draft.

Grade: C