3 Players the Detroit Pistons may reget passing on in the Draft

2024 NBA Draft - Round One
2024 NBA Draft - Round One / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Hindsight is one of the worst ways to look at things. Yet, it’s hard not to look back and think what if. The Detroit Pistons went somewhat against the grain with their draft picks earlier this week, and thus, we could easily be looking back and wishing they went a different direction with their selections as we have so many times before.

By now, I think most fans have talked themselves into Ron Holland. But, who could we look back on in five years and say that Detroit regrets not picking? We’re going to limit this to just the first round, as the Pistons moved around in the second.

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Donovan Clingan

Donovan Clingan is the obvious choice for the first player Detroit could regret passing on. Most fans, myself included, were hoping that, no matter who Detroit selected, that Clingan would still be available. That would open up the board tremendously for the Pistons. They likely would have options to trade back, thanks to Clingan having the most trade up appeal. They also could have just simply selected the UConn big man. That is the scenario that Detroit may regret.

Selecting Clingan would have given Trajan Langdon and Detroit two clear pillars to build around. In an NBA where a roster buildout of 1-3-1 (one primary ball-handler, three big/scoring wings, and one defensive/rim protecting big man), the Pistons would have had this to a tee with Cade Cunningham and Clingan. Langdon and co. could then assess the currently rostered 2-3-4 positions, available free agents, and begin to put together a competent squad. Instead, Detroit has a 1, and question marks for 2, 3, 4, and now still 5. 

Dalton Knecht

Dalton Knecht wound up slipping more than I think anyone would have expected in the draft. He eventually was selected by the Lakers, which is a steal for both parties, but it was reported that his age was the lone factor in his falling. Detroit would have been reaching for Knecht at five, or had to trade back, but his value to any NBA team is apparent. He is an absolute bucket, who has shouldered the weight of a program at Tennessee. 

Similar to Clingan, you know exactly what you are going to get in Dalton. Drafting Knecht would have given Cade Cunningham a very solid running mate, and help take some of the scoring weight off the face of the franchise. His defense may be so-so, but Detroit could then have used their cap space to target known lockdown defenders. Dalton makes this team better, immediately. Which is obviously something that Trajan Langdon isn’t actively lunging towards. 

Matas Buzelis

Between the mock drafts, and reports coming out of Detroit, Matas Buzelis was my pick for them at five. He stands anywhere between 6-foot-8 and 10, depending on which media outlet you are reading, but has the movement and feel of a guard. He is a true oversized wing that every NBA team is in search of. His size on offense is just as impactful on the defensive end, and the potential is clearly there.

There were definite concerns regarding his perimeter shooting, but Detroit just hired the best shooting assistant in the league in Fred Vinson. Get Vinson in a gym with Buzelis for a summer, and suddenly you could have the next Franz Wagner in Detroit. The Pistons may regret passing on him and leaving their gaping hole at four unaddressed.