Michigan pair staying in draft help the Pistons?

Moussa Diabate (14) and forward Caleb Houstan (22). Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Moussa Diabate (14) and forward Caleb Houstan (22). Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Two University of Michigan players, Caleb Houstan and Moussa Diabate had to decide by June 1 whether to stay in the NBA Draft or return to school. Both made the choice to stay in the draft. Could either end up with the home state Detroit Pistons?

The Wolverines made a ‘Cinderella’ run to the Elite Eight last season, falling to Villanova in coach Jay Wright’s final victory of his career, with Houstan and Diabate being starters as freshmen.

It went down to the wire, but Houstan, a 6-foot-8 wing, and Diabate, a 6-foot-11 center/forward, both decided to stay in the draft and will not be going back to Michigan.

While this is a blow to the Wolverines chances of another deep NCAA run, could this help the Pistons?

Detroit has two picks (as of now, never know when general manager Troy Weaver will swing a deal). One if the No. 5 overall, which Houstan and Diabate will most likely not be considered for, but they also draft at No. 46, as they have the Brooklyn Nets second-rounder as part of the DeAndre Jordan trade.

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Weaver went for a Michigan player last season in the second round, Isaiah Livers at No. 43.. He had a nice rookie season when finally able to play. Why not another Wolverine?

Let’s look at each for their draftibility at 46 and how they fit with the Pistons

Caleb Houstan for Detroit Pistons?

Houstan was a highly-rated recruit for Michigan. He averaged 10.1 points and led them in three-pointers made but, he was not the star of the team. Maybe another year with the Wolverines could have helped his overall game, but it does not matter now.

One mock draft has Houstan going to the Pistons. However, well, there has been talk. Not anything out in the open, but chatter behind the scenes about Houstan.

He by-passed the NBA Draft Combine, which was a bit odd since Houstan is not seen as a lock top 15 player or anything. Chet Holmgren does not have to be at the combine, but a player of Houstan’s status is expected.

The rumor is that Houstan has received a promise from an NBA team that they will select him in the draft, if he is available. If Houstan received a promise, no need to work out, all it would do is lower his standing if he looked bad.

Could Detroit have promised Houstan to take him at 46? Maybe, but the current scuttlebutt is that it was the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have No. 30 (among their gazillion draft picks) pick. First round draft picks must receive guaranteed contracts, second rounders do not.

So there is a big difference between being drafted No. 30 (last pick in first round) and 31 (first pick in second round).

Will the rumor of a promise come to fruition for Houstan, or could he be around for Detroit at No. 46? The answer will be revealed on June 23.

Moussa Diabate for Detroit Pistons?

Diabate did go to the draft combine, and it was the right choice, as his standing went up, probably factoring in his decision to stay in the draft.

At Michigan, Diabate had averaged 9.0 points and 6.0 rebounds, nothing outstanding for a center that would make one think an NBA career awaits.

But Diabate showed a lot of potential at the combine,

Now, would a team start Diabate next year and have him guard Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic? Probably not, but Diabate showed the potential to be a rotation big in the NBA, at least in some scouts eyes.

Wolverine fans know Diabate has to work on his outside shot, and his catching the ball down low could be better. However, NBA teams are always afraid of passing on a future standout, so showing a lot of potential is, most times, enough to get drafted.

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In Sports Illustrated’s latest mock draft, they have Diabate going at No. 44 to the Atlanta Hawks (he does have similarity in skills to Hawks starting center Clint Capela), which is only two spots ahead of Detroit at No. 46.

There has not been reports of the Pistons scheduling a workout with Diabate, but it is not like Weaver could not have just flipped on his TV all winter and seen him play. Detroit was at the combine and observed him there.

If Detroit does end up drafting a guard in the first round, like Jaden Ivery or Benedict Mathurin, they will probably be looking to go big in the second round.

A young rebuilding team would be a good landing spot for Diabate, who would probably see a lot of time in the G-League no matter where he goes.

With center Marvin Bagley III a restricted free agent, Kelly Olynyk possibly a trade target, getting some insurance for the future at center would not be the worst idea for Detroit.

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While there is a chance either Diabate or Houstan could be around when Detroit selects at No. 46, at the very least, their staying in the draft adds depth, which means the Pistons may now get a player who would have been taken earlier. Every little decision has unknown repercussions.