Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham will be drafted first and that’s a problem

Killian Hayes #7 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Killian Hayes #7 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons just drafted what they hope is their point guard of the future in Killian Hayes. The top prospect in next year’s draft is also a point guard in Cade Cunningham. Problem?

The Detroit Pistons might find out having the No. 1 overall draft pick is a hit-or-miss proposition.

Some years you do not need to be a basketball wizard to know who to pick in the NBA Draft when you have the first selection.

LeBron James available? Yeah, take him. Zion Williamson? Sure. Derrick Rose or Blake Griffin, that’ll work.

Other years, the choice is tougher: Anthony Bennett, Andrea Bargnani, Michael Olowokandi, Kwame Brown were also No. 1 pick’s in an NBA draft. Never heard of them? No reason you should.

The 2020 NBA Draft was one where there was no sure-thing, can’t miss prospect. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected first and took guard Anthony Edwards. Will he be a star or a bust? Who knows?

The draftniks and NBA personnel people have now moved on to the 2021 draft. It looks like there will be a consensus on who should be taken first: Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham

Cunningham is 6-foot-8, 220-pounds and is a point guard. A really big point guard, in the style of Ben Simmons (another former No. 1 overall draft choice).

Unlike Simmons, who has the shooting range of Shaquille O’Neal, Cunningham can hit an open jumper. He is not Steph Curry but Cunningham has proven he can hit a three-pointer under pressure.

So Cade Cunningham is going to be the first pick in the NBA Draft in like eight months. You might ask what does that have to do with the Detroit Pistons?

A lot.

Point or Counter-Point?

In case you have not seen the standings, the Pistons are 0-4 on the season. Despite the record, Detroit has not been humiliated. They have held the lead in the fourth quarter of every game, but have not found the winning touch as of yet.

With 68 games still to be played, how Detroit’s season will go is still up in the air. They could make the Play-in tournament (for 7th thru 10th place teams in Eastern Conference) or they could end up rock bottom in the standings.

Since the Pistons probably are not contending for the NBA championship this season, there are fans on social media actually rooting for Detroit to ‘tank’. They want them to lose so much they will have the worst record in the NBA, and have a better chance at a high draft pick.

Is Detroit Pistons GM Troy Weaver the new Sam Hinkie?. light. Related Story

Both general manager Troy Weaver and coach Dwane Casey have stated they will not be losing games on purpose.

The return of veterans Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose plus the additions of established NBA players like Mason Plumlee, Jerami Grant, Wayne Ellington and Delon Wright seem to validate they are not tanking. No need for them to be on the roster if not trying to win.

But, what if, somehow, the Pistons did find themselves with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021.

You do not have to have the worst record anymore for a great chance at picking first. The NBA smoothed out the odds last year, where the bottom seven all have pretty decent odds of that ping pong ball coming up first in the draft lottery.

Unless Detroit turns its fortunes around, they could be involved in the lottery for the second year in a row. This year, they got the No. 7 slot and picked French point guard Killian Hayes, so they really are not in the market for another point guard.

If Detroit did get the first selection, they have three choices with what to do with it:

  1. Take Cunningham and have him and Hayes start together.

It would be the simplest solution. Cunningham is the top player, than you take him. Hayes was heralded at draft time that he could also play shooting guard. But his shooting has been dreadful so far.

In four games, he is averaging 5.0 points and shooting a pitiful 27.6% from the field. Hayes will improve as he gains more experience, but it is doubtful he suddenly turns into Luke Kennard as a shooter.

2. Trade the pick for assets or trade Hayes

While the Pistons may not need a star point guard, there are plenty of other NBA teams who would love to get their hands on Cade Cunningham.

Naturally, GM Troy Weaver still might want to take Cunningham. He could see him as a generational player and seek a new home for Hayes. However, Hayes most likely has little trade value at this point in his career, and Detroit has invested a lot in Hayes, so he probably stays

More likely in this situation, Weaver answers his phone and sees what offers he gets. Maybe a team offers him a boatload of draft picks. Or maybe offer to trade talented young players that Weaver feels would fit in with the Pistons.

If Weaver wants to unload the final year of Blake Griffin’s contract ($38 million), he can dangle the No. 1 pick to attract a taker.

No matter what, Weaver will still want to have a selection in the top 10. The draft is the future for Detroit.

3. Draft someone other than Cunningham

Cunningham might be the top player available in the draft but he might not be the top player for the Pistons needs.

Detroit could just pass on Cunningham and select another top rated prospect like USC center Evan Mobley (not like Mason Plumlee is the center of the future) or Ignite G-League shooting guard Jalen Green as having someone who could actually score would be nice.

(Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga is rated second to Cunningham on some draft boards. However, his game is very similar to Hayes so, most likely, Detroit would not be interested in him.)

The thing is, you better be sure Cunningham is not far better than everyone else.

In 1984, the Portland Trail Blazers had the No. 2 pick in the draft. They had a good shooting guard in Clyde Drexler but needed a big guy, so they drafted Sam Bowie of Kentucky. Chicago picked next and had to settle for Michael Jordan.

Next. Detroit Pistons: The Day After Warriors observations. dark

There is, obviously, a lot of good having the No. 1 draft choice for a team. But, there are a lot of pitfalls as well.

When the No. 1 prospect plays the same position as a guy you just drafted, with all the problems that entails, maybe it is best if Detroit to just wins a bunch of games this season, so they don’t have to worry about it.