NBA Draft experts have surprising choice for the Detroit Pistons

2022 NBA Draft
2022 NBA Draft / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

We are just two days away from the NBA Draft Lottery, and the Detroit Pistons will once again enter with maximum odds of landing the number one pick after finishing with the worst record in the league. 

Excitement around this draft is dulled by the lack of perceived star power at the top, as there is no Victor Wembanyama, no generational prospect and many fans haven’t even seen some of the top guys play. There are not any players viewed as guys who are going to save a franchise, though that could certainly turn out to be a false evaluation. 

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This uncertainty could lead the Detroit Pistons down a number of paths, including trading the pick, but if they do keep it, there are players who would be potential fits with their young core. 

Detroit Pistons lottery odds 

The Pistons have a 52.1 percent chance to stay in the top four of the 2024 NBA Draft and have a 47.9 chance at the #5 pick, so it’s basically a coin flip to decide whether the Pistons get one of their top guys or fall to 5th again, a replay of last year’s worst-case scenario. 

But let’s stay positive and assume the Pistons do stay in the top four. If they did, who should be on their radar? ESPN had one surprising choice in a recent article (Subscription) by Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo in which they identified the players the Pistons should target if they stay in the top four. 

Would the Detroit Pistons select another guard? 

Givony and Woo named Zaccharie Risacher as the #1 target for the Pistons if they end up in the top four of the Draft, which is not a surprise, as he has been mocked to Detroit a lot, fits a need and is considered one of the top guys depending on who you ask. 

They also named Alex Sarr and Matas Buzelis (3rd and 4th, respectively) but it was the 2nd choice that caught my eye, Reed Sheppard out of Kentucky. 

The 6-foot-3 guard is considered the best shooter in the draft and is a hard-nosed defender who averaged 2.5 steals per game. He shot an outstanding 52.1 percent from 3-point range this season and is a guy who can play both on and off the ball. 

But he’d be joining a crowded backcourt with Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey already in it, not to mention Marcus Sasser, another undersized combo guard also known for his shooting.  

How would Reed Sheppard fit with the Detroit Pistons? 

Elite 3-point shooting fits on any team and the Pistons are in particular need of this skill. But it’s hard to justify taking a player in the top-4 who may not even start and is a questionable bench fit with the backup guards the Pistons already have. 

As Givony suggests, Sheppard could play with either Cade or Ivey and the right coach could get them all minutes by staggering them. On paper, Sheppard is a better fit with Cade Cunningham than Ivey because of his shooting and defense, so this is a pick that could eventually push Ivey to the bench, not Sheppard. 

It’s an interesting idea, especially considering the uncertainty around this draft, as we at least know Sheppard will be able to shoot if nothing else. But with big-time needs on the wing and with rim protection, Detroit had better hope they have other options in free agency and trades, or you’ve just added a small combo guard to a team that already have two of them, which doesn’t address their biggest needs.