Team USA closer was almost on the Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons draft picks Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Livers, Luka Garza and Balsa Koprivica. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons draft picks Cade Cunningham, Isaiah Livers, Luka Garza and Balsa Koprivica. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

If you want to know why the Detroit Pistons have been bad for so long you can look no further the NBA Draft.

The Pistons had a woeful run of futility in the draft, and the misses started to pile up as we watched guys like Donovan Mitchell become stars on other teams. But the ineptitude in the draft goes all the way back to the early 2000’s, a streak that the Detroit Pistons hope has finally ended with guys like Isaiah Stewart, Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Ausar Thompson.

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But it hasn’t just been high draft picks that the Pistons have missed on over the years, they have also failed to find players later in the draft or outside of it, as the best teams in the league continue to find undervalued players who become contributors.

That’s exactly what happened when the Lakers took a risk on undrafted free agent Austin Reaves, who has evolved into a key player on their roster, as well as for Team USA.

The Detroit Pistons were close to landing Austin Reaves in the NBA Draft

The Detroit Pistons had the 42nd pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and reportedly wanted to use it to draft Austin Reaves, but Reaves had different ideas.

According to his appearance on the All the Smoke Podcast, Reaves had put teams in tiers based on where he felt he had the most opportunity, and the Lakers were atop that list as a team that had little young guard depth.

So Reaves turned the Pistons down and instead became an undrafted free agent, later signing a two-way with the Lakers.

The rest is history, as Reaves became a surprise star of last year’s playoffs, and was then asked to join Team USA for the FIBA World Cup. Many thought he’d be an afterthought on the team but Reaves once again proved the critics wrong and has been one of Team USA’s key bench players.

That includes last night, when he helped lead a comeback against Germany, who were leading Team USA by 16 points in the 3rd quarter. Reaves, Tyrese Haliburton and Anthony Edwards were the stars of the game, and Reaves was on the floor to close it while stars like Jalen Brunson and Brandon Ingram sat on the bench.

It’s possible things might have gone a different way had the Detroit Pistons offered Reaves a full roster spot instead of a two-way, but they didn’t and chose Isaiah Livers instead. Reaves decided that if he were going to take a two-way, it may as well be with the team he had atop his list of best fits.

So the Detroit Pistons missed out on a chance to draft Reaves, partially because they weren’t willing to commit to him, which is now looking like a mistake, as he has a brand-new four-year deal with the Lakers and is playing like a future All-Star.

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