Pistons make risky trade in proposed deal for the #1 pick in the NBA Draft

Apr 5, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Detroit Pistons center Jalen Duren (0) shoots
Apr 5, 2024; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Detroit Pistons center Jalen Duren (0) shoots / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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Would the Pistons trade Jalen Duren for the #1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft? 

In a vacuum, trading Jalen Duren is not out of the question this summer, as the Pistons desperately need rim protection, and he has not provided any yet. Of course, he’s only 20, knows he needs to improve on that end and has plenty of time to do it. Duren has already proven himself to be a very good rebounder and lob threat around the rim. 

I assume in this scenario the Pistons would be trading up to select Alex Sarr, who is projected as a top-tier defender. Detroit would have to be very high on him to make this deal, especially considering he’s even younger and rawer than Duren, especially offensively. 

But Sarr is projected to be able to do things that will be a better fit with Cade Cunningham, namely protect the rim on defense, provide defensive versatility and spread the floor on offense. 

But this would be a steep price to pay to move up a couple of spots in a draft with no consensus number one, so whoever is making this call had better hope Sarr (or whoever they select) turns out to be a star. 

Giving up their own top-5 pick would be questionable given the uncertain nature of this draft, as you could make an argument that they’d be better off with Duren and whoever they selected with that pick than with the number one alone. 

With the luck the Pistons have had, their number one pick would be a bust and whoever the Grizzlies took with their pick would end up being a superstar. 

There is also a chance the Pistons have no interest in Sarr and instead would use the number one pick on someone else and replace Duren in free agency with someone like Nic Claxton or Isaiah Hartenstein, but again, this would be a big risk unless there was already a wink-wink agreement in place. 

This isn’t the worst trade if Detroit thinks there is a star at the top, but with so little to go on, they’d probably be better off avoiding this one and looking to move Duren for a wing player instead of trading him to move up in a weak draft. 

If Detroit could somehow pick up an additional pick in the first round and send the later one to Memphis, this deal would be more palatable for Detroit, who could get their rim protector without having to give up two of their best trade assets.