Detroit Pistons’ NBA draft grades: Cade Cunningham makes them winners. How about Round 2?

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons selected Cade Cunningham on Thursday, and for that reason alone, their 2021 NBA draft haul will be viewed as a rousing success. But they also had three second-round picks, and ended up using all three, along with trading a starter from last season’s team.

Here’s how their draft class grades out.

No. 1: Cade Cunningham

Grade: A+

This one is self-explanatory, but I’ll explain anyway: The Pistons had the No. 1 pick. Cunningham was the best player on the board. Their most straightforward option also happened to be the best option.

Cunningham is a 6-foot-8 point guard who can do everything. His floor is extremely high. He has the talent to transform the Pistons from Day 1, and they’ve finally found the franchise player they’ve been seeking for more than a decade. Oh, and he wore buffs at the draft. This is a no-brainer A+.

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No. 42: Isaiah Livers

Grade: B+

The rare second-round pick who doesn’t need an introduction to most Pistons fans, Livers is a Kalamazoo native who had a standout four-year career at Michigan. He was a career 41.2% 3-point shooter and has good size for the wing position at 6-7. He’s recovering from a stress injury in his right foot that kept him out of the NCAA Tournament, but this is a logical and worthy selection for the Pistons. He’s four months removed from the procedure that is supposed to take at least six months to recover from.

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No. 52: Luka Garza

Grade: B

Most second-round picks don’t pan out. A significant amount of first-round picks don’t either. This late in the draft, it’s tough to knock going after proven production.

The consensus national college basketball player of the year in 2021, Garza had an incredible career at Iowa. He’s a dynamo on offense, possessing an elite post game and great shooting touch. He averaged 24.1 points per game as a senior and knocked down 44% of his 3s. However, he was a poor defender in college and he doesn’t project well on that end of the floor in the NBA. But he has lost 30 pounds to enhance his mobility, so maybe there’s some defensive upside he hasn’t shown.

No. 57: Balsa Koprivica

Grade: C

The Pistons closed out the draft by selecting a second big man, acquired by trading Mason Plumlee and the No. 37 pick before the draft in a cap-clearing move. Koprivica is a Serbian center who played at Montverde Academy high school in Florida with Cunningham for one year before attending Florida State for two seasons. As a sophomore, he averaged 9.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He wasn’t a player on many draft boards, and it’s unclear if he has an NBA skill. But he certainly has an NBA body, standing 7-1, and draft evaluators are high on his motor. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is a great talent evaluator, and it’s tough to have a strong opinion on a player taken this late in the draft. But, this one came a out of left field.


Grade: A

After taking Cunningham first overall, there was no possible way for the Pistons to receive less than an A. All three of their second-round selections carry an asterisk, but that’s par for the course for second-rounders. They took Cunningham, and thus won the draft.

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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