Should Detroit Pistons draft for fit, upside or impact? Here’s a pick for all three

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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The 2020 NBA draft is Wednesday night, and the Detroit Pistons have the seventh overall pick. They can go a number of different directions with it, depending on what they prioritize. They have numerous roster needs, lack star talent and need more players who can contribute to winning. 

The Pistons have roughly $30 million in salary cap space — ahead of free agency negotiations beginning Friday — meaning they have more options to make a deal for a veteran player and/or trade back into the draft — they lack a second-round pick.

Here are three options that fit each priority the Pistons could look to address in the draft at No. 7. Only players that are expected to be available at seven are listed, which means LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Deni Avdija and Obi Toppin have been excluded. 

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Good fit

Killian Hayes, point guard, Ratiopharm ulm

The Pistons’ biggest roster need is a lead guard. Hayes, a 6-foot-5 French point guard, could be the best in the draft after LaMelo Ball. He has size and the type of shot creation upside that has separated the NBA’s great point guards from its good ones in recent seasons. He’s a great passer who thrives in the pick-and-roll, though he’s significantly better with his left hand than his right. 

Hayes also might have the most connections to the Pistons out of any player projected to go in the lottery. He has been training with former Piston Will Bynum since last year, and is friends with French forward Sekou Doumbouya. Assuming Ball doesn’t fall to the Pistons, Hayes is a logical option for Detroit. 

Other options: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State; Onyeka Okongwu, C, USC.

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High upside

Patrick Williams, forward, Florida State

Perhaps the draft’s biggest riser in the past two weeks, Williams has stood out to teams thanks to his size (6-8), defensive versatility and potential to be a versatile offensive player. 

His numbers from last season don’t jump off of the page, and he has a long way to go to reach his ceiling. But many of the league’s best players are athletic forwards who can dominate both sides of the ball, such as Kawhi Leonard and Jayson Tatum. Big wings who can defend those players have become more valuable. If Williams becomes the latter, he’ll have a long career. And his potential to become an offensive force is why he has risen from the middle of the first round into the top-10 of the lottery. 

Williams is reportedly the favorite to be drafted by the Pistons on Wednesday. General manager Troy Weaver tends to favor athletic players with long wingspans who can defend and get to the rim. Williams fits the Weaver mold to a T. 

Other options: Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn; Hayes.

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Immediate impact

Tyrese Haliburton, point guard, Iowa State

If the second-best point guard prospect of the draft isn’t Hayes, then it’s certainly Haliburton. The 6-5 guard is one of the highest IQ players in the entire draft. He’s also one of its most versatile guards, as he’s a great passer, shot a high percentage from behind-the-arc last season and is a smart defender. 

Because he’s a year older than Hayes and Ball, lacks athleticism and has questionable shooting mechanics, many have questioned his ability to be a lead ball-handler in the NBA. It lowers his ceiling, even though he’s an overall better player than both Hayes and Ball as of now, thanks to his shooting and defense. Given the Pistons need a point guard, they can’t go wrong with Haliburton. 

Other option: Devin Vassell, G/F, Florida State.

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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