It’s all guesswork at this point.
The Pistons, who have the No. 5 pick in the NBA Draft on June 23, aren’t sitting pretty like they were last season, when they had the top pick. They pondered over the top options before eventually selecting Cade Cunningham.
This year, they’ll have to wait for the teams ahead of them to pick before they make their choice. The top three seem to be fairly certain, with the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets poised to take Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero in some order.
That’s where things will get interesting. The Sacramento Kings have the No. 4 pick, and they could be the wild card that helps determine what the Pistons will do with the next pick. The Pistons seem to be guaranteed to have a choice of either Iowa forward Keegan Murray, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe or Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin, among others.
Murray, at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, is an interesting option on the surface. He posted 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season for the Hawkeyes, and he ranked fourth in the nation in scoring. The problem for the Pistons is the fit with the current roster, seemingly stocked at the forward position with Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant as the starters.
Grant, though, is entering the final season of his contract, and he’s be the subject of trade speculation, as he’s in line for a contract extension that could bump his salary to $28 million over the following four years.
That’s where Murray could come into consideration with the No. 5 pick. In the midst of general manager Troy Weaver’s rebuild, there’s definitely a fit for Murray, who will be 22 when the season starts.
“They’ve got a mix of young and veteran. Cade is a really good player on both sides of the ball and Saddiq Bey is coming into his own the last couple of years, especially this season,” Murray said Thursday on a predraft teleconference. “They have a lot of young talent with Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Kelly Olynyk is their veteran. They have a lot of pieces and I think I’d be able to plug into their system and be successful.”
Murray said he already has worked out with the Pistons and had a productive meeting, where he was able to get to know members of the front office and the coaching staff.
When: 8 p.m, June 23, Barclays Center, New York
Outlook: The Pistons have the No. 5 overall pick and No. 46 in the second round. They’ll look to add to their improving young nucleus that includes last year’s top pick, Cade Cunningham, along with 2020 first-round picks Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes.