New York — After making a splash in the first round with Cade Cunningham, the Pistons finished out the second round of the draft with some familiar names.
The Pistons selected Michigan’s Isaiah Livers, a 6-foot-7 forward, with the 42nd pick and then followed with Iowa big man Luka Garza — the national player of the year — with the 52nd pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft at Barclays Center.
Entering the draft, the Pistons had three second round picks: Nos. 37, 42 and 52. But before the draft began, they agreed to trade the No. 37 pick to the Charlotte Hornets, along with Mason Plumlee, in exchange for the No. 57 pick. They used that pick to select Balsa Koprivica, a 7-foot Serbian native who played at Florida State and at Montverde Academy, the same high school that produced Cunningham.
Livers, who turned 23 on Wednesday, averaged a career-high 13.1 points, six rebounds and two assists and shot 43.1% from 3-point range in 23 games for the Wolverines this past season, earning All-Big Ten second-team honors.
” I said at the end of the season when (the media) asked about the draft, I said we’re going to double down and continue to get like-minded guys who can help us restore,” Weaver said Friday on “The Stoney and Jansen Show” on 97.1. “He’s like the guys we drafted last year: competitive; he’s tough; he’s selfless. He can shoot it.
“The common theme, if you watch the draft, is Cunningham, Garza and Livers are all 40% shooters from 3. Adding shooting was key.”
Livers’ senior year was cut short due to a stress fracture in his right foot, which caused him to miss much of the postseason. He had foot surgery in April that has a recovery time of six months.
Over his four-year career, Livers won over 100 games and was a part of teams that reached the national championship game, won the Big Ten regular-season title and won the Big Ten tournament title. In total, he appeared in 119 games with 69 starts and finished with 987 points.
“We’ve been watching Livers for quite a while,” Weaver said. “He has a great feel for the game, has a great shot, and he lends versatility to the group as well, so we’re excited to have him.”
Those numbers could’ve been better if not for injuries that hampered Livers during his time in Ann Arbor, including a myriad of groin, hip and ankle ailments that sidelined him for 10 games his junior year.
Despite those concerns, the Pistons opted to select Livers, who made a team-high 50 3s last season and is a 41.2% career 3-point shooter.
“I see him as kind of a sharp-shooting forward,” ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas said this week. “He’s always struck me as an elite offensive player … and that puts him in a high category among shot makers.
“I think he’s a pretty good defender that’s worked hard at it to get better. It wasn’t a strength of his early on in his career, but he’s gotten better and gotten tougher. But I think he’s more of an offensive talent.”
With the Pistons, Livers will also be reunited with former coach John Beilein, who was hired by the team as a senior advisor for player development last month.
Livers could contend for a roster spot, but more likely could be a candidate to play in the G League with the new Motor City Cruise, who will begin play next season at a new arena in midtown Detroit.
Garza, who swept the national player of the year awards, played four seasons at Iowa and averaged 24.1 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior. He was a two-time Big Ten player of the year and finished as Iowa’s all-time leading scorer.
Garza, 22, could be a potential fit as a third center behind Isaiah Stewart and Jahlil Okafor, with a spot created by the Plumlee trade. Otherwise, he could be another candidate to be on the Cruise in the G League.