Troy Weaver’s message two days before the NBA draft is nearly identical to his message on June 22, immediately after the Detroit Pistons won the lottery. Then, he said he saw multiple players worthy of being selected with the No. 1 pick.
On Tuesday, he reaffirmed that he hasn’t locked in a decision.
Cade Cunningham is widely considered to be the best prospect in the draft, but there are three other players — Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs — who are talented enough to go No. 1 in lesser drafts. The Pistons are high on Mobley and Green, along with Cunningham. With the draft approaching Thursday, Weaver isn’t publicly tipping his hand.
KILLIAN HAYES’ CHECKLIST: Learning from John Beilein, ‘just being a dog’
OFFSEASON FAQ: Navigating cap space, roster crunch
“When you have the No. 1 pick, like any other pick, you have to do your work,” he said. “I stated from the beginning that there are guys in the draft that I thought were worthy of the No. 1 pick, and that’s remained true. We’ll continue to do our work and be ready to go on Thursday.”
If Pistons fans want reassurance that they’re not going to pass on Cunningham, they’re not going to get it from the man in charge. It’s still possible that once they arrive on the other end of their evaluation process, they will pick Cunningham. But there’s no incentive for them to accelerate that process. They have until 10 minutes after the draft begins to lock that decision in.
Weaver said the biggest priority is getting the best player, period. They’re not picking solely for next season, but for the future. Cunningham is widely viewed as having the highest floor in the draft, but if there’s a significant chance that Mobley or Green could be as good as Cunningham down the road, it makes sense to consider moving down.
“We’re going to make the selection based on restoring the Pistons and having longevity here and making sure that the player is a player to go for, whether they’re contributing game one or may take them half the season or even the following season,” he said. “This is a long-term play, it’s not a get-it-right-at-the-moment play. Sustained success is what we’re looking for.”
[ Here’s how you can gain access to our very best Pistons content for an incredibly low price. ]
The Pistons have received trade interest for the pick, though Weaver said that many of the rumors are “bunk.” In response to the amount of calls the team is receiving, all Weaver would say is that the offers will be vetted and they will do what’s best for the team.
Weaver has a longstanding reputation as one of the best talent evaluators in the league, and his first season with the Pistons was proof. This could be his biggest test yet; the outcome of this draft could define the rest of his tenure as general manager. After all, it’s been 51 years since the franchise last had the top pick.
“I said from the outset that we have a process and we’re going to turn over every stone,” Weaver said. “That’s what we’re doing. Everybody’s making the pick but us, but we’re going to continue to do our work and turn over every stone and land where we’re going to land. We’re confident in our work and we’re enjoying the process.”