5 Detroit Pistons targets to watch during NBA draft combine

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons will pick fifth in the 2022 NBA draft June 23. It’s not the outcome the team preferred, as they entered Tuesday’s lottery in the third spot. But it’s an outcome they’re still happy with and will be the team’s third-highest pick post 1994.

Historically, the fifth slot has produced star-level talent, and general manager Troy Weaver feels good about the options.

The NBA draft combine is this week in Chicago, and several prospects on the Pistons’ radar will complete drills, interview with teams and address the media. Here are five prospects to keep an eye on.

NBA mock draft roundup: Pistons take big swing with No. 5 pick ]

Jaden Ivey

Vitals: 6 feet 4, Purdue sophomore.

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

One of the most electric athletes in the draft, Ivey appears to be a top-six lock and could be gone before the fifth pick. He was the engine for a Purdue team that finished in the Sweet 16, and possesses a lightning-quick first step and thrives attacking the rim. He would give the Pistons an interesting counterpart to Cade Cunningham, who could help Ivey ease into the NBA as the other parts of his game come together. Ivey will have to prove he can handle ball-handling responsibilities, hit 3’s and lock in defensively.

MORE FROM OMARI: Pistons’ NBA draft scouting will be put to test with 5th pick

Keegan Murray

Vitals: 6-8, Iowa sophomore.

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

Few players in college basketball were more productive than Murray last season, who earned first-team All-Big Ten honors and was named the Big Ten tournament MVP. Murray has very few holes in his game: He was an absurdly efficient scorer, knocking down 55.4% of all his shots and nearly 40% of his 3-pointers. He competes on defense and is a strong rebounder. His biggest knock is his age — he’ll be 22 on NBA opening night. But he appears to be a safe selection in a draft with few sure things.

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Shaedon Sharpe

Vitals: 6-6, Kentucky freshman.

2021-22 averages: N/A

The biggest wildcard in the draft, Sharpe’s draft range could be as high as fourth overall or as low as 10th. Where he ends up largely depends on the quality of his individual team workouts. Sharpe enrolled at Kentucky this spring but didn’t play, and his lack of recent film makes him a tough evaluation. Sharpe is a gifted athlete and has prototypical NBA size as a wing (6-5¼ with shoes, 6-11.5 wingspan) and shot the ball well in high school. At Nike Peach Jam last summer, he averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting 55.6% inside the arc and 36.1% from 3. It’s anyone’s guess how he’ll adjust to the NBA’s pace, but whatever team drafts him could be richly rewarded.

ANALYSIS: Why Shaedon Sharpe makes NBA draft more interesting for Pistons

Bennedict Mathurin

Vitals: 6-6, Arizona sophomore.

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

Mathurin is a prototypical NBA wing. He shot 38.3% from 3 during his two seasons at Arizona, and showed flashes as a plus playmaker and defender. But his outside shooting gives him a high floor, and makes him an ideal fit next to Cunningham. There are mixed opinions around the league on his ceiling, but he projects as a reliable starter. And reliable shooters tend to get paid.

Jalen Duren

Vitals: 6-11, Memphis freshman.

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

Likely the best true center prospect in the draft, Duren possesses jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism and strong rim protection instincts. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft, and will still be 18 on opening night. The fifth pick might be a bit of a reach for a rim-running center, but he has fans in Detroit’s front office and could be an upside play.

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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