With three picks in the second round of the 2021 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons will have a lot of options. Unfortunately, history shows second-round picks rarely work out, and only a few have productive professional careers. The Pistons will have to roll the dice and luck out to find talent with any of their three second rounders, but Jeremiah Robinson-Earl from Villanova could be the steal of the draft.
A career starter on a blue-blood college basketball team, the 6-foot-9, 230-pound Robinson-Earl put up over 15 points, eight rebounds, and two assists. He shot very well, 57%, from the inside, and racked up a steal each game.
Hoops Hype’s latest aggregate of mock drafts has Robinson-Earl going at No. 37. Detroit picks (as of now) at No. 37, 42 and 52 in the second round.
He is a very gifted athlete and the only two areas on his game that need immediate work are his ball-handling and exterior shot.
With ball-dominate players like Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham entering the mix, Robinson-Earl can develop at a slower pace, meaning he could be in a good position to replace Jerami Grant whenever he moves on.
While he isn’t a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, like most Villanova players, he knows how to play defense. Robinson-Earl is a strong defender who can get down low to swipe the ball and also refuses to be backed down by larger bigs. He can play alongside a true center, or lead the paint in a small-ball lineup. His versatility will immediately be a weapon.
The Pistons have the potential to be one of the best defensive teams next season, which translates to a lot of fast-break points. Robinson-Earl is fast enough to lead a break , run the floor and processes the athleticism to play above the rim as a two-vs-one lob threat.
In a set offense, he can bully in the low post or roam down low until he gets an open dunk. His rebounding numbers won’t take a slip during the transition to the NBA, as he’s always been undersized, and knows how to outperform bigger players.
His offensive rebounding could use some work, but he could also be an outlet pass option and then run the ball up the court, before dishing to a shooter. Isaiah Stewart and Grant can grab the boards and the Robinson-Earl can run a fast-paced offense in transition, or he can be a great rim-runner.
Keeping in mind that, in the second round, the Pistons will have to take risks, the reigning Big East Player of the Year is a solid bet. Players like Josh Hart, Otto Porter, and Jae Crowder all won that award in recent years, and they’re solid players. Going even further back, and the likes of Ray Allen, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, and Rip Hamilton are brought up.
Hey, the Pistons did well drafting a Villanova player last year in Saddiq Bey, might try for Wildcats two year in a row.
The talent and pedigree are there. Robinson-Earl is NBA ready and could fall to Detroit in round two. In three years, he will be remembered as the steal of the draft and the Pistons don’t want to be the team that passed on him.