With the countdown to the 2022 NBA draft at 23 days, the Detroit Pistons will soon be on the clock.
Back on May 18, ESPN NBA draft expert Jonathan Givony projected the Pistons to select Purdue guard Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 overall pick. However, in his latest mock released Tuesday, the former Draft Express analyst has the Pistons going with another standout from the Big Ten.
Iowa forward/center Keegan Murray, a first-team All-American and the Most Outstanding Player of the 2022 Big Ten tournament, is Givony’s latest pick for Detroit’s lottery selection. Murray is preceded in the ESPN mock by the consensus top three of Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero, plus Ivey, who Givony has going to the Sacramento Kings at No. 4.
During the 2021-22 season, Murray averaged 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while shooting 55.5% from the field. Towering at 6 feet 8, 225 pounds, he also shot 39.8% from 3-point range on 4.7 attempts per game.
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“The Pistons would likely be disappointed to see Ivey off the board in this scenario,” Givony wrote. “Still, drafting the most productive player in college basketball this season in Murray would be an excellent consolation prize, as he looks like a day-one contributor ready to step into the void left by Jerami Grant, whose future with the Pistons looks uncertain.”
As Givony hinted, Grant, a starting forward for the past two seasons, is in the last leg of a 3-year, $60 million contract with Detroit and has been linked to the Portland Trail Blazers in recent trade rumors. Givony believes Murray would be a satisfactory replacement if Grant were dealt.
“Murray’s cerebral approach and steady demeanor should fit in well with franchise building block Cade Cunningham with his dynamic shooting ability, how he ignites the break off the defensive glass, and the versatility he brings defensively,” Givony added. “(Kentucky guard Shaedon) Sharpe will also get a long look here, but he will need to have a strong showing in a competitive private workout setting to solidify his standing at this slot.”
With the No. 46 overall pick, Givony projects the Pistons will choose Arkansas center Jaylin Williams. The 6-10, 240-pounder averaged 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Razorbacks last season.
Meanwhile, Michigan forward Caleb Houstan is mocked to the San Antonio Spurs at No. 25 overall by ESPN. Givony thinks the Charlotte Hornets will pick Michigan State guard Max Christie just above the Pistons at No. 45 in the second round.
The 2022 NBA draft is set for Thursday, June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Contact Mason Young: MEYoung@freepress.com Follow him on Twitter: @Mason_Young_0