ESPN predicts Detroit Pistons taking Iowa’s Keegan Murray at No. 5 in NBA draft

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Pistons are eight days away from being on the clock in the 2022 NBA draft.

Holding the No. 5 pick, the Pistons’ selection will help the franchise’s on-going rebuild led by last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Cade Cunningham. ESPN released its official mock draft on Wednesday, allowing for expert insight on how Detroit’s night might unfold.

ESPN’s staff believes Iowa forward Keegan Murray will fall to the Pistons to round out the draft’s top five. Murray,  6 feet 8 and 225 pounds, averaged 23.5 points, fourth-best in the country, and 8.7 rebounds for the Hawkeyes last season.

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Murray also led Iowa to a Big Ten tournament championship last season and was named the tournament’s MVP. The Hawkeyes ended the season 26-10 and were upset by Richmond in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 67-63.

The 21-year-old junior  was the first Iowa underclassman to earn All-Big Ten First Team honors since 1978, one of five finalists for the John R. Wooden Award and a consensus first-team All-American. Murray will likely be the first Hawkeye drafted in the first round since 1998.

“Murray’s cerebral approach and steady demeanor should fit in well with franchise building block Cade Cunningham,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote, “with his dynamic shooting ability, how he ignites the break off the defensive glass and the versatility he brings defensively.”

Other players that could be in the mix for the Pistons include Purdue guard Jaden Ivey and Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe. The mock draft predicts Ivey going to the Sacramento Kings at No. 4 and Sharpe to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 8.

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Entering their fifth season under head coach Dwane Casey, the Pistons ended last season 23-59. This is the Pistons’ third straight draft with a top-10 pick, and the seventh time they’ve drafted in the top 10 since 2010.

ESPN’s mock draft also predicted future homes for Michigan’s Caleb Houstan and Michigan State’s Max Christie. Houstan, once viewed to be a top-10 pick, is now projected to land with the Memphis Grizzlies at No. 29. The 19-year-old small forward averaged 10.1 points, four rebounds and 1.4 assists last season.

ESPN foresees Christie, the MSU shooting guard, staying in-state after being selected by Detroit with the No. 46 pick. Christie, 19, averaged 9.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists last season.

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