For the Detroit Pistons, there won’t be much intrigue during this week’s NBA draft combine. Or at least not for fans hoping to see how the combine could impact Detroit’s decision-making for the first overall pick.
Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham, widely considered the best prospect, and Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs, projected to go in the first four picks, aren’t participating in the combine. G League Ignite guard Jalen Green and USC big man Evan Mobley, also both projected as top-four picks, didn’t participate in the drill and measurements portion of the combine on Tuesday and Wednesday and aren’t scheduled to play in Thursday and Friday’s five-on-five televised scrimmages.
There’s plenty of intrigue for second-round prospects, though. The Pistons own three picks in the second round — No. 37 (from the Toronto Raptors), No. 42 (from the Charlotte Hornets) and the 52nd (from the Los Angeles Lakers). There are numerous players the Pistons could target with those picks, which Troy Weaver noted in March could be used to draft two-way players, draft-and-stash players or be used as trade chips to move up.
BEFORE THE LOTTERY: Pistons’ 2021 NBA draft Big Board 1.0: Top 8 prospects
“If you can get a young man to agree on a two-way and still draft him, a la Saben Lee, that bodes well for you,” Weaver said. “A lot of times people see those as throwaway picks. I don’t see them as throwaway picks. I see them as picks you can use in a variety of ways, and now with the two-way contract, that’s another way to use those picks as well.”
The Pistons have a big need for additional shooting, and there are several players participating in the scrimmages this week that could make sense for Detroit. The scrimmages will air live on Thursdaty (ESPN2) and Friday (ESPNU) from 3-7 p.m.
F Matthew Hurt, Duke
2020-21 per-game averages: 18.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 55.6% shooting, 44.4% from 3.
Hurt, to put it simply, is a pure bucket-getter. He logged a stellar 66.3% true shooting percentage as a sophomore with the Blue Devils last season, and averaged 6.6 3-point attempts per game while shooting 42.1% from beyond the arc through his two seasons. He’s a big forward with a high release point on his shot.
Given that Weaver has embraced a defense-first approach, it’s unclear if Hurt, who lacks length and athleticism, fits the mold. But if the goal is to find shooting, there aren’t too many players who are more proven in that area than Hurt.
G Joe Wieskamp, Iowa
2020-21 per-game averages: 14.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 46.2% from 3.
Like Hurt, Wieskamp managed to hit better than 40% of his 3-pointers for his career in college. He averaged 5.1 attempts as a junior last season, and shot 49.5% from deep during Big Ten play. A strong combine showing could help him rise up draft boards.
F Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine
2020-21 per-game averages: 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, 37.8% from 3.
Edwards isn’t quite as good a shooter as Hurt or Wieskamp, though he still hit 39.5% of his 4.1 3-point attempts per game during his three-year career. But he boasts far more upside on the defensive end of the floor, boasting solid athleticism and a plus-wingspan. Weaver loves versatile forwards, and Edwards has the toolset to be an effective 3-and-D rotation player.