Now that the season is over, the Pistons can focus on the offseason, which will entail a push for internal improvement of their young players and an eye on the draft.
The Pistons finished with the second-worst record and have a 14% chance of getting the No. 1 pick, along with 52% of landing in the top four, which could land them an impact player. Which player they like is still up for debate, but it would be their highest pick since the ill-fated Darko Milicic selection in 2003.
The NBA Draft Lottery on June 22 will decide the final order of the draft, but until then, there will be speculation and guesses, as well as Tankathon spins, to project where the Pistons will pick.
This week’s mailbag looks at which prospect the Pistons might select in the lottery, as well as how they might address the roster construction:
► Question. Evan Mobley or Jalen Green at 2? — @LucasAG911
► Answer. Either way, it’s a win. If the Pistons are in a position to choose between Evan Mobley and Jalen Green, it likely means that they have the No. 2 pick, and didn’t drop in the draft lottery, which would be a win in and of itself. The Pistons need a potential star to add to their young core, and either Green or Mobley could provide that.
Mobley is a 7-foot big man with some guard skills, and he’s being compared to a young Anthony Davis. He’s not fully developed offensively, but he would be a big addition as a rim protector and could be paired with Jerami Grant or Isaiah Stewart — or both in a big lineup — to make a formidable frontcourt.
Green, a 6-foot-6 wing, would fill in nicely at shooting guard, and he could be the additional shot creator they’ve lacked in the offensive scheme. He has good size and his ability to get in the paint and cause havoc would be a welcome boost.
There might be other guards available either in free agency or in the draft, but there is only one Mobley. If he’s there, he could be an impact player on the defensive end and a centerpiece for the next decade-plus.
► Q. Do you think Mobley and Stewart can co-exist? Do you think Killian would develop better with a combo guard in Cade/Suggs or a scorer in Green? — @therealkhj
► A. It might be a little tough at first for Stewart, who is used to playing in the middle. That could be part of the reason the Pistons played Stewart at power forward alongside Mason Plumlee — just to see if mechanically he could make the move.
The initial indications are that it could happen, but Stewart will be called upon to do more on the defensive end in guarding on the perimeter. Offensively, he’ll have to shoot a few more 3-pointers, and there’s some thought Mobley could be a ball-handler on the pick-and-roll, which would be a new look for the Pistons.
The more options the Pistons have to move players around, the better it might be for everyone involved. Hayes can play some off the ball, and at the end of the season, he looked to be more aggressive when he was playing off the ball. Hayes is probably flexible enough to play either guard spot, but if there are more ball-handlers, that fits what coach Dwane Casey likes to do as well.
► Q. Have you heard any names as potential FA targets? I know about the in-house players, but any particular outside free agents they have their eye on? — @bigdogpistons
► A. I haven’t heard any specific names, but I found it interesting that general manager Troy Weaver said about their offseason roster plans.
“I don’t anticipate having too many roster spots available. We like our group and we’re excited about guys under contract and even our own free agents. I don’t anticipate much turnover at all,” Weaver said last week. “I would say maybe one or two additions from the outside, but the answers for the Pistons moving forward are all in-house.”
That probably means some small tinkering around the edges with some of their own free agents, such as the two-way players, and some consideration on Wayne Ellington, who will be unrestricted.
► Q. Given the pieces we already have, if we don’t land number 1, should Troy look to flip it for an established player to add to our youth? — @RotoDanny
► A. If the Pistons don’t get the No. 1 pick, all is not lost. Now, if they don’t get in the top four, trading the pick might be a consideration. There are some other good players outside four initial picks, but they could look around and see what other teams are offering to move up. It would take a substantial package of picks and/or veterans, but I think Weaver would listen to anything reasonable.
They have roster spots that need some veteran help and either through free agency or the draft, they can fill them.
► Q. When can we move the Clippers to Seattle? — @ben_ingersoll
► A. It might not be the Clippers, who just ponied up some loot for a new arena in Inglewood, but I would think the NBA looks to get back to Seattle. It’s a wonderful area and the Pacific Northwest has a good basketball fan base. When the Sonics were at their peak, that was a rabid following that they had in Seattle.
It might not end up being a team that moves there, but NBA expansion that leads to the return to Seattle. Either way, it’ll be long overdue.