As rumor mill swirls, Detroit Pistons go with a guard in our NBA mock draft 3.0

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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At long last, the 2020 NBA draft is less than a week away. The Detroit Pistons pick seventh Wednesday, their highest selection since taking Greg Monroe at No. 7 in 2010.

The top of the draft is loaded with question marks, with no clear slam dunk superstar prospect. That’s a contrast to last year, when Zion Williamson was the prize, though Ja Morant quickly showed he was no slouch at No. 2. 

The draft is an inexact science, and there is plenty of intriguing talent that fits today’s NBA sprinkled throughout the entire first round. 

Free Press’ Pistons beat writer Omari Sankofa II mocked the entire first round. Our previous mock draft can be read here.

1. Minnesota Timberwolves — LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks

The Wolves traded for D’Angelo Russell, a point guard, in February, so Ball isn’t a clean fit. But he likely has the highest upside in the draft, and the Timberwolves aren’t good enough to draft for fit. Taking Ball is their best option. 

2. Golden State Warriors — James Wiseman, C, Memphis

Wiseman is a mobile, athletic rim-running center with elite defensive upside, a combination of skills the Warriors have not had in a player during their championship era. It appears likely they will trade this pick. But if not, Wiseman is a no-brainer. 

3. Charlotte Hornets — Anthony Edwards, G, Georgia 

The Hornets have three playoff appearances since 2003, none of which lasted beyond the first round. Edwards is the best prospect remaining, and is one of the few players in the draft with obvious star potential. 

4. Chicago Bulls — Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv 

If Avdija develops his shot, he could become one of the best players in the draft. Regardless, he projects as one of the best playmakers, despite being a 6-foot-9 forward.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers — Obi Toppin, F/C, Dayton

The reigning national player of the year is also the most offensively polished player in the draft. He’s a strong Rookie of the Year candidate and should be able to help the Cavs from Day 1.

6. Atlanta Hawks — Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State

This is one of the best fits in the draft. Haliburton is a good passer, shooter and has the size to play either guard position. He can start next to Trae Young and take on the tougher defensive assignment, or back up Young. 

List: NBA draft prospects Pistons have interviewed and worked out ]

7. Detroit Pistons — Killian Hayes, G, ratiopharm ulm

The rumor mill exploded for the Pistons ast week, with Florida State forward Patrick Williams emerging as a favorite. Williams fits general manager Troy Weaver’s mold as an athletic forward with a good wingspan, elite upside as a switchable defender and promise as a scorer. He’d be a great pick for a Pistons team in need of talent, regardless of position. 

Yet, Hayes still makes the most sense. The lefty has great footwork for a 19-year-old point guard, is big for the position (6-5 with a 6-8 wingspan), reads the floor well and competes on defense. He has been working to improve two of his biggest weaknesses — his right hand, and his shooting. Former Pistons guard Will Bynum, who has been training Hayes since the summer of 2019, told me his worth ethic is Kobe Bryant-esque. He’s a great candidate to be Detroit’s point guard of the future. 

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8. New York Knicks — Isaac Okoro, G/F, Auburn 

As one of the best athletes and best perimeter defenders in the draft, Okoro is a great pick for a Knicks team in need of a culture-setter. 

9. Washington Wizards — Onyeka Okongwu, F/C, USC

Okongwu is slightly undersized, but was a great defender, post player and above-average passer as a freshman last season. Will draw comparisons to Bam Adebayo, and has potential to be the best center in the draft. 

10. Phoenix Suns — Devin Vassell, G/F, Florida State

There’s a lot to like about Vassell. He’s the best 3-and-D player available here and is a a great fit for a Suns team that could soon lose Kelly Oubre in free agency. 

11. San Antonio Spurs — Patrick Williams, F, Florida State

The Spurs appear to be at a crossroads. Their 22-year playoff streak ended last season, and LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar Derozan are both in the final year of their contract. Williams is a great building block for their next era. 

12. Sacramento Kings — Aaron Nesmith, G, Vanderbilt

Nesmith shot 52.2% from 3 last year, making him a worthy successor to Buddy Hield if he and the Kings part ways

13. New Orleans Pelicans — Saddiq Bey, G/F, Villanova

Getting one of the best shooters in the draft toward the end of the lottery is a win for the Pelicans. Bey shot 45% from 3 last season and can defend. 

14. Boston Celtics (from Grizzlies) — Precious Achiuwa, F/C, Memphis

The Celtics could benefit from bolstering their frontcourt depth, and Achiuwa fits the mold of the type of athletic, long wings they tend to target. His offensive game is raw, but he has the length and mobility to thrive as a small-ball center. 

15. Orlando Magic — RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers

There are some question marks over whether Hampton can be a full-time point guard in the NBA. He has been training with Penny Hardaway and Mike Miller leading up to the draft, and his athleticism gives him a considerably high ceiling. 

16. Portland Trail Blazers — Jalen Smith, C, Maryland

Smith, who shot 36.8% from 3 and blocked 2.4 shots per game as a sophomore, said he models his game after Kevin Garnett and Jaren Jackson Jr. He’s a logical pick for the Blazers, who could lose Hassan Whiteside in free agency. 

17. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Nets) — Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington

A consensus five-star recruit in 2019, McDaniels didn’t live up to expectations as a freshman. But he’s a good ball-handler and shooter for his size, and a sensible pick for a Timberwolves team in need of potential star talent. 

18. Dallas Mavericks — Aleksej Pokusevski, F/C, Olympiacos B

The Mavericks, historically, have had success with European players. Pokusevski is a 7-footer with guard skills, but needs to add strength and weight to last in the NBA. He’s one of the highest-upside players in the draft, but also has one of the lowest floors. 

19. Brooklyn Nets (from 76ers) — Kira Lewis Jr., G, Alabama 

Lewis has been rising up mock drafts in recent weeks, but this pick doesn’t budge from our previous mock draft. He’s a quick guard with a drive-and-kick game who also plays hard on defense. The Nets could use a point guard, and Lewis could be a steal this late in the first round.

20. Miami Heat — Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford

Like Lewis, Terry has risen up mock drafts. Arguably the best shooter in this year’s draft, he has a Stephen Curry-esque ability to hit deep 3’s and make himself open without the ball in his hands. 

21. Philadelphia 76ers (from Thunder) — Tyrese Maxey, G, Kentucky

The playoffs revealed the Sixers have a lot of holes to fill if they want to truly contend in the East. Maxey can fill multiple roles as a ball-handler, scorer and defender. He wasn’t a strong shooter in college, but has the tools to become one. 

22. Denver Nuggets (from Rockets)  — Xavier Tillman Sr., F/C, Michigan State

Tillman is far from a first-round lock, but has few holes in his game and excels as a rebounder, finisher, screener and passer. He’s undersized for a big at 6-8, but his versatility on both sides of the ball should fit a Nuggets team that could lose Paul Millsap in free agency.

23. Utah Jazz — Josh Green, G/F, Arizona

Utah could benefit from adding wing depth. Green is a 3-and-D wing with good size (6-6, 6-10 wingspan) who can back up Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles. 

24. Milwaukee Bucks (from Pacers) — Cole Anthony, G, North Carolina  

After suffering a second-round exit in the playoffs, the Bucks need a player who can contribute immediately. Anthony’s inefficiency last season is concerning, but he has all the tools to be an offensive spark plug. 

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Nuggets) — Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL

OKC appears to be heading deeper into a rebuild, making Chris Paul a likely trade candidate. Maledon has starting point guard potential and would fit well next to Shai-Gilgeous Alexander.

26. Boston Celtics — Leandro Bolmaro, G/F, Barcelona

The 6-8 Argentinian is a big point guard who reads the floor well and has soft touch. He’s a draft-and-stash candidate, which makes sense for a Boston team that has more first-round picks than it can realistically use this season.

27. New York Knicks (from Clippers) — Desmond Bane, G, TCU

Bane is one of the older players projected to go in the first round, but he has few holes in his game. He’s a good shooter and defender, and should be a competent point guard for a Knicks team in need of one. 

28. Los Angeles Lakers — Malachi Flynn, G, SDSU

Flynn was one of the best point guards in college basketball last season, and his great playmaking and shooting should complement the Lakers perfectly.

29. Toronto Raptors — Zeke Nnaji, C, Arizona

His defense is a major question mark, but there’s a lot to like about Nnaji’s offensive game. He finished at the rim at a high level as a freshman last season and has great touch, indicating he could become an outside threat in the NBA.  

30. Boston Celtics (from Bucks) — Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

Stewart is the best player remaining. He has a throwback post game, plays with energy and rebounds well. If Enes Kanter declines his player option, Stewart can replace him immediately. 

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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