Now that we’re on the other side of the NBA lottery, evaluators can project the draft with a greater degree of certainty. The pool of players the Pistons can target with the seventh overall pick has become slightly more shallow.
But in a draft that doesn’t have much unanimity on who the best players are, or even agreement on which players belong in each tier, opinion is still split on which player fits Detroit the best.
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Here’s a look at who draft pundits think the Pistons should select:
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ESPN/The Ringer: Iowa State point guard Tyrese Haliburton
2019-10 stats: 15.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.2 assists
Haliburton’s strengths — his shooting, playmaking, size and efficiency — would help every team in the NBA. While there’s no consensus on whether he’s a starting NBA point guard, the Pistons should have enough time to allow him to grow into the role. And that’s part of the reason why ESPN likes his fit in Detroit.
“Haliburton can fit in multiguard lineups thanks to his size, spot-up shooting and quick decision-making,” ESPN draft guru Jonathan Givony wrote. “The skilled guard is comfortable playing on or off the ball and loves to empower teammates with his passing. Detroit has a glaring hole at point guard, and Haliburton’s maturity and feel for the game make him an easy fit on this roster.”
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Yahoo Sports/Bleacher Report: USC forward/center Onyeka Okongwu
2019-20 stats: 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 61.6% field-goal percentage
The Pistons’ need for a big man isn’t quite as strong as their need for a point guard, and nonshooting centers usually aren’t expensive to sign in free agency.
A good argument can be made that Detroit would be better off not using a lottery pick on a center who doesn’t space the floor. But Okongwu does just about everything else at a high level, making him a popular mid-lottery pick. He’s slightly undersized for the position, standing 6-foot-9. But his defensive versatility, touch around the rim and efficiency could make him a reliable building block.
“Onyeka Okongwu has convinced teams to look past his 6’9″ size for a center and lack of shooting range,” Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman wrote. “They’ve fallen for his athleticism around the basket, post footwork/touch and defensive upside.
“At the least, the Detroit Pistons should be able to bank on Okongwu for easy baskets off rolls, cuts and missed shots. And given his length, mobility and 2.7 blocks per game, they should feel excited about his potential to protect the rim and guard effectively in space.”
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SB Nation: Memphis center James Wiseman
2019-20 stats: 19.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks.
Wiseman, considered the No. 1 recruit in the 2019 class by multiple recruiting outlets, barely had a cup of coffee in the NCAA. His collegiate career ended after three games following an investigation that led to him being ruled ineligible to play. Despite his small sample size, he’s widely considered a top-three pick in the draft due to his measurables, athletic gifts and the relative lack of surefire talent in the draft.
SB Nation isn’t quite as high on Wiseman’s potential, though. Ricky O’Donnell believes that Okongwu is the best big man prospect in the draft, allowing Wiseman to fall to the Pistons. While Wiseman is more physically-gifted than Okongwu, his lack of college tape relative to Okongwu’s proven production works against him here.
“Wiseman was the No. 1 overall recruit in the country before playing just three games at Memphis amid an NCAA eligibility scandal,” O’Donnell wrote. “His limited college tape is just one reason why he feels like the most polarizing prospect in this year’s class. Believers in Wiseman see a long-and-strong 7’1 center who can protect rim and slam home lobs from day one while refining his offensive skill set. Critics question the quickness of his lateral mobility and second jump, and wonder how impactful a center can be in today’s game without plus shooting and passing ability.”
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SI: Auburn forward Isaac Okoro
2019-20 stats: 12.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, two assists, 0.9 blocks, 0.9 steals
Okoro’s draft grade is largely tied to how confident one is that he can develop into an NBA-level shooter. He was one of the most impactful wing defenders in college basketball, but his 29% mark from three is a hole in his game that could reduce his NBA ceiling.
Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo likes his offensive upside enough to see a good fit for Detroit.
“Detroit sorely needs an injection of high-upside talent in Troy Weaver’s first draft as general manager,” Woo wrote. “After dropping to No. 7, they may be out of the running for LaMelo Ball, barring a slide in the draft. But Okoro’s impressive athletic gifts, strong defensive instincts and developing offensive skills create an intriguing long-term package, with the hope being he’ll be able to capably defend the league’s top wing scorers while also offering value on the other end. The caveat here is that if his jumper never improves, there’s some palpable downside. But teams are highly optimistic about his intangibles, and simply being an average shooter might lock him in as a starting-caliber player. He’s a reasonable bet at this spot.”
CBS Sports: Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany) guard Killian Hayes
2019-20 stats: 11.6 points, 5.4 assists, 2.8 rebounds
The other point guard widely projected to be selected between the fifth and 10th picks, Hayes doesn’t appear to be as popular as Haliburton at this point in the draft evaluation process.
He’s a strong playmaker and efficient scorer within the arc, but his 29.4 3-point % is a weakness that he’ll have to improve in the NBA. Some evaluators are high on his ball-handling, footwork and touch. He also has a strong international resume at the age of 19.
He could have a longer path to becoming an NBA starter than Haliburton, but he makes sense for Detroit.
“Detroit should have an eye on its future at point guard with Derrick Rose aging, making Killian Hayes a wise investment for its future,” Kyle Boone wrote. “He just turned 19 years old and is already an accomplished international star, having won MVP honors at the FIBA Europe U16s three years ago and working his way into a top-10 caliber prospect in the years since because of the blend of playmaking and vision he possesses.”
Contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.