Detroit Pistons’ growing workout list gives clues to 2020 NBA draft priorities

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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Publicly, the Detroit Pistons have been mum on their priorities entering next week’s 2020 NBA draft.

They want to take the best player available with the seventh pick — assuming they don’t trade out of it. They haven’t tipped their hand on whether they’d prefer to address their biggest positional needs, or whether or not they want a player who can contribute immediately. 

Leading up to the draft on Nov. 18, the NBA has scheduled pre-draft media interviews with many of its top prospects. Those interviews began Wednesday, and with them, we’re beginning to get a picture of what the Pistons are hoping to accomplish with general manager Troy Weaver’s first draft in Detroit

In October,the league allowed teams to hold in-person interviews, workouts and medical evaluations with draft prospects for the first time this year. Teams are limited to a total of 10 total in-person meetings, forcing them to be selective in who they bring in. The Pistons intend to use all 10, Weaver said in early November. 

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“We’re very excited with our process, continuing to work through it,” Weaver said. “Things have been going according to plan thus far.” 

So far, the Pistons are known to have had in-person meetings with four players. New Zealand Breakers guard RJ Hampton, Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton and Vanderbilt guard Aaron Nesmith all confirmed Wednesday they worked out for the Pistons, and Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman recently reported Alabama guard Kira Lewis Jr. also met with Detroit.

Weaver also said the Pistons are hoping to meet with LaMelo Ball, who is widely projected to be a top-three pick and best overall point guard in the draft. 

The early trend appears to be the Pistons are favoring point guards. Haliburton, Hampton, Ball and Lewis Jr. all project as lead NBA guards, and Nesmith, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, shot 52.2% from 3 last season. Point guard is Detroit’s biggest position of need, and this is a point guard heavy draft, so their interest in drafting one is logical. 

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Weaver praised Hampton and French point guard Killian Hayes, who has been widely mocked to the Pistons and will have his pre-draft interview with reporters Thursday. 

“I think that they’ll go somewhere between probably four and 14,” Weaver said. “But like both guys, they’re intriguing prospects. Their games aren’t the same. Hampton’s an athletic player, you’re betting on his upside. Hayes is more of a facilitator. A little different in that way but both are intriguing young prospects.” 

The list will continue to grow through the days leading up to the draft. Florida State forward Patrick Williams, who is one of the highest-upside players in the draft and is reportedly a target for the Pistons with the seventh pick, will also have his pre-draft interview on Thursday. 

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Notably, Auburn forward Isaac Okoro said he has not met with the Pistons. Considered to be one of the draft’s best athletes and defenders, he fits the mold of the type of player the Oklahoma City Thunder prioritized while Weaver was an assistant GM there. Several prominent mock drafts have pegged Okoro as a potential option for the Pistons.

Georgia wing Anthony Edwards and Dayton big man Obi Toppin, both likely top-five picks, also said they haven’t met with the Pistons.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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