Detroit Pistons: 5 best options for pick No. 1

Cade Cunningham should be the primary draft target for the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Cade Cunningham should be the primary draft target for the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /
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Scottie Barnes Detroit Pistons
Florida State Seminoles guard Scottie Barnes (4) shoots the ball against Michigan Wolverines guard Franz Wagner (21). Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Option 2: The Thunder make a lot of noise about getting No. 1 pick from Detroit Pistons

Oklahoma City tried so hard to get into position for the No.1 overall draft pick.. Once its star player, guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, was hurt and going to miss the rest of the regular season, they did not just go into tank mode, but super-tank (if there is such a term).

The Thunder told Al Horford to go home and collect his paycheck. No need for him to play when looking to lose as much as possible.

Oklahoma City played its young players down the stretch. Guys at the bottom of the bench were suddenly becoming starters.

On March 22, the Thunder held a record of 19-24 and held an outside chance of making the Play-in tournament. That was the last game for Gilgeous-Alexander.

With their chances of making the play-in disappearing with the absence of Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City went hard for a tank.

The Thunder went 3-26 the rest of the season. Sam Hinkie would have been proud how they tried to lose. Its record of 22-50 tied them with the Cavaliers for fourth-worst.

Related Story. Detroit Pistons are tanking, the Thunder are losing. light

The lottery was not kind to OKC. They moved back two spots to take the No. 6 overall slot in the draft. In a draft that most experts agree is, at most, five deep, being sixth is not optimal.

In no way is Thunder general manager Sam Presti in danger of losing his job. He is recognized as one of the sharpest GM’s in the league.

Presti is so sharp, that he has piled up an insane amount of draft picks. Just in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Thunder have three of the top 18 and five of the top 36 draft picks. But no one is projected to be a star at the point they start drafting.

After one awful year, Thunder fans are ‘devastated’ following the lottery. It looks like they will endure another season with lots of losses.

As Pistons fans learned this year, having a real bad season is somewhat palatable if there is hope for the future. But right now, Oklahoma City has a bad team and no hope to change its fortunes anytime soon.

But it does have one thing: first-round draft picks. A lot of first-rounders. To be exact, the Thunder have 18 first-rounders in the next seven years (also 18 second-rounders).

The promise of future first-rounders, who are never guaranteed to be good, rings hollow at the moment.

The Thunder fans know what they want Presti to do with his truckload of draft choices:

Again, Presti’s job is not on the line, so he does not have to turn it around quickly. But it would be nice for the fans to see some tangible results from all the draft stockpiling.

Hmm, who could Presti turn to and pull off a major deal. Until last summer, guess who Presti’s top lieutenant was: Troy Weaver.

Oh, and where did Cade Cunningham go to college? Oklahoma State, a mere hour-drive to Oklahoma City. The phone lines to buy Thunder tickets would get immediately jammed if Cunningham went there. And, as a small market team, Oklahoma City relies on ticket sales for revenue more than most NBA teams.

Would Weaver give his old boss some kind of break in the asking price for the No.1 pick. No, but they, obviously, have a good working relationship (witness the Hamiduo Diallo trade).

If anything, Weaver knows the situation in Oklahoma City better than most, and how much getting Cade Cunningham would mean to the area.

As we said at the beginning of this article, Weaver has said no one is untouchable, because you never know when someone will offer you four first rounders.

That someone is Sam Presti, and he is not going to get off as easy as four first round draft choices:

So it would be five No. 1s (three this year and two in future), plus Ty Jerome, a young shooter who looked promising during last season’s meltdown.

The problem is, most of the Thunder future draft picks are with teams that are usually near the top of the standings, like the Heat, Nuggets, Clippers and Celtics. Most likely, these picks, when conveyed, will not be in the top-10.

So Weaver would be shipping out Cade Cunningham, which he will get intense criticism for, and end up with No. 6 this year and a bunch of first-rounders that will, most likely, be in the teens and 20s.

This year’s draft is not thought to be as deep as last year’s. If Weaver agrees (and he may not), a deal with Oklahoma City is probably dead in the water.

Odds of occurring: 10-1