NBA mock draft 2.0: If Detroit Pistons win lottery again, they’ll pounce on Chet Holmgren

Detroit Free Press

The NBA draft lottery 2022, one of the most entertaining events on the NBA calendar, is less than three weeks away.

The Detroit Pistons will learn May 17 where they’ll end up for the draft June 23. They own the third-best odds and are tied with the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic for a 14% chance of picking first overall and 52.1% chance of picking in the top four.

Shaedon Sharpe’s entrance into the draft makes this class more intriguing for the Pistons, but general manager Troy Weaver of course expressed confidence they’ll draft a good player regardless of where the pick falls. It could drop as low as seventh.

In mock draft 2.0 (which is based on a single random draw via Tankathon), the Pistons got lucky again and ended up with the No. 1 pick. Here’s how the top eight picks of the draft could shake out in this scenario, which included Sacramento jumping up five spots.

Pistons face crucial roster decisions: Debating who stays and who goes ]

1. Detroit Pistons: F/C Chet Holmgren

Vitals: 7 feet, Gonzaga freshman.

2021-22 averages: 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, 39% from 3.

Winning back-to-back lotteries would be a dream scenario. But in a draft that lacks a clear top prospect, like Cade Cunningham in last year’s class, there could be incentive for the Pistons to trade down. Their top prospect could be available at two or three, and it makes sense to pick up assets if the opportunity, though unlikely, arises.

I wrote in mock draft 1.0 the Pistons would be thrilled to select Chet Holmgren if they stay at No. 3, and he’s available. If the Pistons have the first overall selection, I think Holmgren would be the pick. He’s arguably the most talented player in the draft — an elite rim protector, above-average 3-point shooter and rim-runner, and capable ball-handler and passer. Like Cunningham, he’s a floor-raiser who can fit into nearly any lineup. He’s a fiery competitor who has succeeded at every level of basketball. From both a skill and character standpoint, Holmgren has few question marks.

His weight —  or lack thereof — might be the biggest factor preventing him from being a consensus top-two pick. He’s 195 pounds and struggled with physical matchups in college. Opinion around the league is split on the extent Holmgren’s thin frame will limit his success in the NBA, and on if he’ll be able to add a significant amount of muscle. Other star big men, such as Kevin Garnett and Anthony Davis, managed to fill out their frames under the guidance of NBA-level conditioning programs. The onus will be on Holmgren to do the same.

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2. Sacramento Kings: F Jabari Smith Jr.

Vitals: 6-10, Auburn freshman.

2021-22 stats: 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block, 42% from 3.

If the Pistons end up with a top-two pick, it would be surprising to see them pass on Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr. The Kings, who moved up from No. 7, would be very happy to take Smith. He was the best shooter in college basketball, knocking them down both off of the catch and off-the-dribble with ease. His shot mechanics are pristine, and it’s nearly impossible to block his shot due to his size and high release point. Couple that with his defensive versatility and he’s a very safe pick for whatever teams selects him.

3. Orlando Magic: F Paolo Banchero

Vitals: 6-10, Duke freshman.

2021-22 averages: 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 33.8% from 3.

There’s little Banchero can’t do on offense. He’s a gifted ball-handler for a 6-10 forward and has light feet, enabling him to carve up most post defenders with a variety of moves. His outside shot is inconsistent, but he’s unstoppable when it’s falling. Banchero also reads the floor well and looked like a point forward at times. His game has shades of 2018-era Blake Griffin. Defensively, he’s a step slow along the perimeter and lacks rim protection instincts. He’ll have to prove himself on that end of the floor in the NBA, but his offensive game is already pro-ready.

4. Houston Rockets: G Jaden Ivey

Vitals: 6-4, Purdue sophomore.

2021-22 averages: 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 35.8% from 3.

Ivey would be a potentially awkward fit for a Rockets team that drafted another off-guard in Jalen Green second overall last summer. But Ivey is too talented to pass here. He was one of the most electric athletes in college basketball last season, possessing a lightning quick first step and explosive leaping ability that enabled him to be an effective slasher. The rest of his game is still coming together. He’s an inconsistent defender and shooter, and doesn’t read the floor quite well enough to be a full-time point guard. But his ceiling is high and the Rockets can afford to be patient as he rounds out his game.

Pistons get NBA playoff reminder of what what they truly need: Luck in the draft ]

5. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Jalen Duren

Vitals: 6-11, Memphis freshman.

2021-22 averages: 12 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks.

After the top three or four picks, the this draft is wide-open. Duren is one of several players in the mix to go fifth overall, depending on which team is on the clock. He’s a powerful and athletic rim-running center who can protect the rim, and he makes sense for a young Thunder team in need of a big man. Duren didn’t have strong guard play at Memphis, but Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would make his life much easier in the NBA.

6. Indiana Pacers: G Shaedon Sharpe

Vitals: 6-6, Kentucky freshman.

2021-22 averages: N/A.

Sharpe is the draft’s biggest unknown, and his stock is currently in the Nos. 4-10 range. He is entering the draft despite not playing a single game for Kentucky, but his athleticism and upside makes him a top-10 pick by default. He’s arguably the most athletic player in the draft along with Ivey, and averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 55.6% inside the arc and 36.1% from 3 at Peach Jam last summer. He has all of the necessary tools to become an effective offensive player. The risk? Teams are evaluating him solely by his high school film right now. Individual workouts and a strong NBA combine could further boost his stock.

Why Shaedon Sharpe makes the 2022 NBA draft more interesting for Detroit Pistons ]

7. Portland Trail Blazers: F Keegan Murray

Vitals: 6-8, Iowa sophomore.

2021-22 averages: 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, 39.8% from 3.

Murray, who turns 22 in August, will likely be the oldest player selected in the lottery. But his production speaks for itself. There’s little Murray can’t do. He’s an effective scorer from every area of the floor, rebounds and competes hard on defense. Murray has a high floor and fits a Blazers team that is still looking to build around Damian Lillard.

8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers): G/F Bennedict Mathurin

Vitals: 6-6, Arizona sophomore.

2021-22 averages: 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 36.9% from 3.

Every NBA team needs a player like Mathurin. He knocked down a high percentage of his 3-pointers on high volume, and has the body and athleticism to develop into an above-average defender.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.

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