The NBA draft lottery is just over two weeks away. After an extended offseason, it once seemed the day would never come. Now, it’s nearly here.
On Aug. 20, the Detroit Pistons will learn where they will pick in the 2020 draft. If you need a reminder, they have the fifth-best odds and a 10.5 %chance at the first overall pick — their best odds since 1994, which saw them select Grant Hill third overall.
Detroit has positional needs across the board, given that they currently lack a young, proven star. Given the restrictions in draft preparation that teams are facing due to the pandemic, along with an overall lack of clear star power in this year’s draft crop, it’s clear that general manager Troy Weaver will have his work cut out for him as he prepares for his first draft with the Pistons.
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Here’s who draft analysts believe the Pistons should select.
CBS Sports: Memphis C James Wiseman
2019-20 stats: 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks.
Wiseman is almost universally considered to one of the best two bigs in the draft, alongside USC center Onyeka Okongwu. Wiseman possesses great size, standing 7-foot-1 with a 7-6 wingspan, and is a great athlete.
He only played three games for Memphis, meaning teams have a small sample size of college games to go off of. His numbers were impressive, but he’ll have questions to answer as an NBA player.
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“It’s wild to think that James Wiseman could fall (to No. 5) in the draft, but it goes to show the value that the center position has lost in the NBA in recent years — particularly if the center isn’t a knock-down shooter,” Colin Ward-Henninger wrote. “Agile and mobile at 7-1 with a 7-6 wingspan, Wiseman is at the very least an elite shot-blocker/rim-runner, and his ceiling is as high as anyone in the draft’s if he continues to develop his playmaking and ball-handling. He won’t get the post touches in the NBA that he did in his brief time at Memphis, so he needs to improve his face-up and pick-and-roll game if he’s going to score outside of lobs and putbacks.”
NBC Sports: Illawarra PG Lamelo Ball
2019-20 stats: 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 37.5% shooting
Perhaps the most divisive players in the draft, Ball is widely considered to be a top-five pick, which speaks to his high-level passing ability and overall upside. He’s 6-7 and a generational passer, and won’t turn 19 until two days after the lottery. Players like him don’t come around every year.
He has red flags, though — namely his lack of efficiency as a scorer. Shooting sub-40% overall, and 25% from behind the arc, is far from ideal. If a team believes he can tighten his shooting form and improve his shot selection, it would dramatically increase his ceiling.
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“He’s still growing into his frame, and while I doubt he’s ever be on par with someone like Russell Westbrook, he’s definitely going to get stronger and more athletic as he matures physically and gets into an NBA strength training program,” Rob Dauster wrote. “When that happens, it should help his explosiveness and ability to handle physicality. There are risks here (at No. 5), but I don’t think it’s crazy to say he has the highest ceiling of anyone in this draft class.”
Bleacher Report: Iowa State PG Tyrese Haliburton
2019-10 stats: 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists
In some ways, Haliburton is the anti-Ball. He’s older, having played two seasons in college. He’ll turn 21 in January. He’s more experienced. He’s a good, if not great, all-around shooter. He even has some defensive chops.
He’s also widely viewed as a prospect with a lower ceiling. Some analysts question whether he’ll develop into a lead guard in the NBA. If the Pistons want a point guard, he appears to be a safe option.
“NBA teams are high on Tyrese Haliburton, who’d be a sensible target for a franchise that’s missing a long-term answer at point guard,” Jonathan Wasserman wrote. “But his versatility would also allow the Detroit Pistons to remain flexible while they rebuild. Haliburton can work on and off the ball after averaging 6.5 assists per game and grading in the 99th percentile on spot-ups. He should help with creating extra open shots for teammates and more space with his catch-and-shoot range (49.3 3PT%).
“The question with Haliburton concerns how his limited burst and pull-up game will affect his upside as a scorer,” he continued. “He does struggle to blow by and separate into dribble jumpers. However, Haliburton has the makeup of an impact-over-stats contributor.”
Contact Omari Sankofa II at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.