NBA Draft: Pistons’ targets narrowing into clearer top 3

Detroit Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons will be anxiously waiting to see what the Sacramento Kings do with the fourth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Presumably, the draft begins there. That is because while intel points to the top three falling in some order of Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero, what the Kings do at 4 remains a mystery. And it will significantly impact what the Pistons do next.

There are plenty of candidates in that next tier, but recent reporting and NBA gossip seems to indicate that the Pistons have narrowed their focus to three players in contention for that fifth overall pick — Jaden Ivey, Bennedict Mathurin and Keegan Murray.

James L. Edwards III of The Athletic outlines potential draft scenarios and focuses on circumstances where each of those three would be the team’s choice. Other contenders in that 5-10 range that don’t appear to intrigue the Pistons quite as much include Shaedon Sharpe, Dyson Daniels, AJ Griffin, Jeremy Sochan, Jalen Durren and Johnny Davis.

The betting markets, who work much more on available consensus and aggregation than on specific insider info have also coalesced around Ivey (-200) and Murray (+250) as being the two players vying for the Kings pick, per Bet Online. From there, the bettors give Murray (-125) the edge, but have Sharpe (+225) next in line followed by Ivey, Daniels and Mathurin.

The consensus mock draft over at Hoops Hype, which aggregates the latest mocks from flagship sites ESPN, The Athletic, Bleacher Report, The Ringer, Sports Illustrated,, CBS Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo, Basketball News, and USA TODAY’s For The Win, have Ivey and Murray falling fourth and fifth.

One reporter who has Murray going fourth is The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who writes about the significant investment in both Davion Mitchell and De’Aaron Fox, and the trading away Tyrese Haliburton points to a team that could have Murray as the best fit and high-level prospect available that better complements Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

There are rumblings that the Kings would be willing to trade out of No. 4 for an impact veteran, and if the Pistons see a player they clearly prefer they could potentially make a move. If, say, a Chet Holmgren falls and the Kings are inexplicably disinterested. But there is no indication the evaluation of either Ivey or Murray far surpasses the other that the team would be willing to trade a player and the fifth pick to move up one spot.

Another interesting wrinkle — what if the oft-rumored deal that would send Jerami Grant to Portland for No. 7, presuming the Blazers don’t like their options there, and Murray is already off the board at 4. Would the Pistons take two swings at two guard/wings because they fall as the best players available? If you grab Ivey at 5 and Sharpe goes No. 6 to the Pacers who would Detroit target at No. 7?

Do they go with Bennedict Mathurin and try and build in playing time and development for two off guards? Do they go with AJ Griffin because he can focus solely on his best skill of shooting? Or do you look at the best potential wing/big available and start exploring the potential of adding a Jeremy Sochan, Tari Eason or go big with a Mark Williams or Jalen Duren?

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