The Pistons had high hopes entering Thursday’s NBA Draft Lottery. Those hopes were dashed when the NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealed they would have the seventh pick in the NBA draft on Oct. 16 — two spots down from where they entered the lottery.
Even at No. 7, the Pistons will have an opportunity to pick a player who could help them and fit in the rotation next season.
Point guard is a position of need for the Pistons and with Derrick Rose as the only experienced lead guard on the roster, drafting another to develop could be the move. That doesn’t rule out other positions, as general manager Troy Weaver alluded.
“Where we are, we have to continue to play the (draft) board and just draft the best available,” Weaver said Thursday via teleconference. “We’re not in a position to just pick a position. We’ll look at everything. Of course, position comes into play somewhat, but we have a lot of holes to fill, so we aren’t quite there yet.”
Some of the top players could be gone by the time the Pistons’ choice comes around, but here are five players they could consider with the No. 7 pick:
►Tyrese Haliburton: PG, Iowa State
Haliburton has been climbing the charts as the second-rated point guard behind LaMelo Ball. He has good size at 6-foot-5 and one advantage he has over Ball is his 3-point shooting (42%) and his ability to play either guard spot. He averaged 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists and has good pick-and-roll instincts. Defensively, he has a 6-7 reach and can help clog passing lanes. He’s not uber-athletic, but he makes up for it with his court awareness and passing ability.
►Killian Hayes: PG, Ulm (Germany)
It’s sometimes difficult to gauge prospects who play overseas, but Hayes is regarded as one of the top prospects at point guard. Last season with Ulm, he was a bit turnover-prone but his court vision and ability to get to the rim can overshadow some of those issues. He’s not a top-tier shooter like Haliburton (29% on 3-pointers), but he can score in the paint and going to the rim, which is one of Haliburton’s weaknesses. Hayes is just 18 years old and he has plenty of time to develop as the Pistons proceed with their rebuild.
►Obi Toppin: F, Dayton
He was one of the top players in the NCAA last season and sometimes is cast as a dunker, which overlooks his polished offensive game. He’s good with the ball in his hands and knows when to pass, which is a valuable skill in itself. He posted outstanding numbers: 20 points and 7.5 rebounds at Dayton and having no NCAA Tournament took away the opportunity for Toppin to lead the Flyers through a couple of rounds. He’s more of a power forward, which is a crowded position already for the Pistons with Blake Griffin and rookie Sekou Doumbouya, but if Toppin is there, the Pistons should give him a long look, because he could be one of the most talented players in the draft class.
►Onyeka Okongwu: F/C, Southern California
At 6-foot-9, Okongwu doesn’t have the size of a traditional center, but he makes up for it with exceptional athleticism and the ability to guard on the perimeter and protect the rim. That would be a new direction for the Pistons, who parted with Andre Drummond at the trade deadline and don’t have a center under contract for next season. Okongwu is a good rim-running big who would be an asset, especially at this draft position. He’s projected to go higher in some mock drafts and there aren’t many teams ahead of the Pistons who need a center.
►Devin Vassell: SG, Florida State
This isn’t a strong draft for wings, but Vassell has flown under the radar a bit. He’s only 20 years old and he could bring a defensive presence to the Pistons, who need more of it on the wings. Vassell is an underrated 3-point shooter (41%) and as a 3-and-D option, could be the choice if some of their other options already are gone. At 6-7, he has good size and does things that may not show up in the box score, but ultimately lead to wins.