Following Troy Weaver’s rookie season as general manager, the Detroit Pistons seem to be heading in the right direction.
After only two playoff appearances in the past decade, the Detroit Pistons were in need of a clean slate. Weaver gave the Pistons that clean slate by getting rid of almost every contributor from the previous Pistons’ roster. Blake Griffin was bought out and signed with the Brooklyn Nets. Derrick Rose was traded to the New York Knicks while Luke Kennard was traded for what was the Saddiq Bey draft pick.
Despite ending the season with the second-worst record, almost every player on the Detroit Pistons showed signs of progress and improvement. Free-agent signing Jerami Grant finished his breakout season averaging 22.3 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting, as well as grabbing 4.9 rebounds per game. On top of that, center Mason Plumlee may have exceeded expectations more than any other player on the Pistons.
With the Pistons securing a guaranteed top-six pick in the upcoming NBA draft, fans are eagerly waiting for the arrival of a star-level player to add to the young core. Players like Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley are well-known prospects who are expected to be the top two draft picks this summer and could end up being that player. While fans are catastrophizing and imagining a world where the Pistons drop to the sixth pick, there is more to the draft than the top of the draft.
Detroit Pistons: Weaver can find talent in the NBA Draft outside of the lottery
With Troy Weaver’s recent draft haul playing well, Pistons fans should be relieved that Weaver is able to find great potential outside of the lottery.
While rookie Killian Hayes missed the majority of the season with a hip injury, his return to the court provided glimpses of what he can become. Despite the fact that he was one of the youngest players in the NBA this season, Hayes’ ceiling is still very high with much time to grow. It may not have been due to the fact that he missed most of the season, but he was not the rookie that most Pistons fans are excited about going forward.
But there is a logical reason for that.
Fellow Rookies Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart stole the show this season while placing their names in the All-Rookie conversation.
Coming out of Villanova, the six-foot-seven rookie was expected to require a few years of polishing before he could make an impact on an NBA court. Not only did Bey exceed his original expectations, but he went on to break some of the rookie 3-point shooting records. One of the most notable records held by Bey is the number of games while making more than five three-pointers in a rookie season. Over the season he recorded 10+ games with five or more three-point baskets, breaking the rookie record once held by Stephen Curry and Allen Iverson. That seems like pretty good company.
After being one of the top prospects coming out of high school, Isaiah Stewart did not garner much attention during his only year at the University of Washington. After being selected by the Pistons 16th overall, there were not high expectations going into the year. However, Stewart proved his worth quickly with his contagious energy and effort. Stewart quickly turned into a fan-favorite, with the given nickname “Beef-Stew”. Despite only averaging 7.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, the Pistons played more efficiently with Stewart on the court.
To go along with Bey and Stewart, who were both first-round selections, Vanderbilt rookie guard Saben Lee was selected this past year in the second round. Over the course of the past season, Lee was an exciting rookie who could be a potential backup point guard in the future.
All three of these selections show that Troy Weaver has the insight and ability to separate real talent from fool’s gold. No matter what happens in the lottery, if Troy Weaver is able to find the best players late for a second consecutive year the Detroit Pistons could be in great shape going forward.