Detroit Pistons: The 2011 NBA Draft still hurts a decade later

Brandon Knight #20 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brandon Knight #20 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Every team in the NBA has a draft or two (or ten) that they would like to do over, including the Detroit Pistons.

The NBA Draft is a crapshoot, though it is pretty easy to see where teams messed up with the gift of hindsight.

You could go back through every Pistons draft to see who they should have taken and some years will stand out more than others, particularly the disastrous 2003 Draft where the Pistons infamously chose Darko Milicic over Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

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But the 2011 NBA Draft was nearly as bad, as the Pistons passed up the chance to draft a few future Hall of Famers who are still dominating the league now.

The Pistons won the title after drafting Darko, so while it might have cost them a chance at more titles, they were still very good.

The 2011 NBA Draft was really what started this decade of awful basketball that the Pistons are just now starting to climb out of.

Detroit Pistons: The 2011 NBA Draft set the franchise back

The Pistons drafted Brandon Knight with the 8th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. At first glance you might not think that is even close to their worst pick, as Knight had a pretty good career that included an All-Rookie team and a season for the Suns in which he averaged just under 20 points per game.

It’s not really about who the Pistons DID take in that draft, but who they didn’t, as Knight is out of the league while several of his draft class are still playing at a high level.

After Knight was chosen 8th, Kemba Walker went with the very next pick. Walker is still playing at a high level for the Boston Celtics and is a four-time All-Star.

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Klay Thompson, one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, went with the number 11 pick.

Some guy called Kawhi Leonard went 15th and since has won two Defensive Player of the Year awards, two titles and two Finals MVPs while evolving into one of the best two-way players in the league. OUCH.

Nikola Vucevic went 16th, Tobias Harris went three picks later and Jimmy Butler was chosen with the 30th pick overall, a mistake every team in the NBA made except for the Chicago Bulls.

How might the last decade have gone if the Pistons had taken Kemba Walker? Kawhi Leonard? Klay Thompson?

It’s safe to say that a few teams would love to have this draft over, as the Timberwolves took Derrick Williams with the second pick, the Jazz reached for Enes Kanter with number three, while Tristan Thompson, Jonas Valančiūnas, Jan Veselý, and Bismack Biyombo went 4-7 just before Knight. This could be the all-time “Worst draft picks” lineup you could find.

With several players from the 2011 NBA Draft still dominating the league, it is safe to say that the Detroit Pistons wish they could do that one again and that it is still hurting the franchise ten years later.

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