The Detroit Pistons appear to be drafting their way out of a rebuild.
With Thursday’s 2022 NBA draft over, experts and analysts are applauding Detroit’s haul. General manager Troy Weaver was all-in on finding players who could contribute right away alongside last year’s No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, and some experts believe he did just that.
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Weaver started the night by drafting Jaden Ivey fifth overall before swinging a trade to acquire No. 13 pick Jalen Duren. The Pistons’ last pick of the night was second-rounder (No. 36 overall) Gabriele Procida.
Here’s a roundup of grades and analysis of the Pistons’ moves from those who cover the NBA:
ESPN believes the Pistons were one of the draft’s biggest winners.
“After moving Jerami Grant before the draft, the Pistons made it clear they would be building around a young core — and maybe Deandre Ayton in free agency,” Gutierrez wrote in a breakdown. “If that’s the case, a guard combination of Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey is a good place to start. Ivey brings some of the flair that the more reserved Cunningham doesn’t. If they can find a way to complement each other, Ivey and Cunningham could be a lethal combination in a few seasons. Jalen Duren was also a necessary pickup for a team that needs toughness up front.”
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For Bontemps, he was impressed by how the Pistons managed to trade their way to the No. 13 pick.
“For Detroit to come away with Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren is a pretty nice haul — especially since the Pistons only had to take on Kemba Walker and give up the future Milwaukee first-round pick from the Jerami Grant deal,” Bontemps wrote. “Ivey has massive upside and could be a terrific fit alongside Cade Cunningham, while Duren adds athleticism and shot-blocking potential inside. Now, the Pistons have money to spend in free agency to continue to supplement their young core, too.”
Vecenie ranked Ivey as the fourth-best player in Thursday’s draft, and he and Hollinger were stunned to see him fall to Detroit at No. 5.
“Evaluating Ivey’s pro future is all about how much you value athletic traits and how much you think teams can fix some of the issues,” they wrote. “There is not a guard in this class with a higher ceiling if it all comes together. His ability to get downhill with power, force and speed is an immediately translatable skill. He can separate from just about any defender. But the difference between him and, say, a player like Ja Morant is what happens after. Whereas Morant is a natural as a passer and playmaker in addition to his vertical pop as a finisher, Ivey doesn’t have that natural feel right now and makes too many negative-value plays because of that. He’s going to get away from his man and collapse the defense, but he has to be able to make the right choice after that happens. If things go right, he could easily turn into a 25-point, six-assist guy. But his floor is something like Eric Bledsoe without the elite defense.”
Hollinger believes Ivey will fit in nicely in Motor City.
“The Pistons pounce on the best pure perimeter prospect in the draft despite landing just fifth in the lottery,” Hollinger wrote. “Ivey has some boom-bust potential, but his blast-off quickness off the dribble should be a nice complement to Cade Cunningham’s more nuanced approach. Between this pick and a surfeit of cap space, Detroit’s rebuild seems ready to move into a more fruitful phase.”
Buckley gave the Pistons an “A” for drafting Ivey, a “B+” for Duren and a “C-” for Procida.
“(Detroit) could have the Association’s most electric backcourt combo sooner than later after the Pistons paired Cade Cunningham with Ivey, who gives off serious Ja Morant vibes,” Buckley wrote. “Ivey is electricity personified. He pairs the burst of a track star with the aerial antics of a Cirque du Soleil performer to form a highlight-friendly arsenal. He looms as the likeliest candidate to lead this draft class in viral moments.
“His jumper is often there when he needs it, though not quite what you’d call consistent. He could also take his passing and on-court leadership to another level, but that’s probably true of any 20-year-old guard. If a perimeter player emerges as the best player in this draft, Ivey is the likeliest candidate. Detroit’s future brightened considerably Thursday.”
The Bleacher Report columnist also sees Duren making a big splash for Detroit in his first year.
“Even as a rookie, (Duren will) send NBA veterans to the wrong kind of viral fame as a shot-blocker and finisher on lob passes from both Ivey and Cunningham,” Buckley wrote. “He is a traditional center, though, and those are always tough to value in the modern NBA. He also displays a notable lack of polish, though that’s not surprising (or particularly alarming) considering he might be the youngest player selected (won’t turn 19 until mid-November).
“If Detroit’s guards are as dynamic as they look on paper, it makes sense to invest in an athletic rim-runner.”
The Ringer gave Ivey a “B+” draft grade and Duren an “A-.”
“Talk about a dream fit,” O’Connor said. “They’ve got to be thrilled about arguably the best guard in the draft falling to No. 5. Ivey might be the most explosive player in this class and should provide some much-needed burst to Detroit’s offense. He can be inconsistent on defense, but that should change in Detroit, where a strong culture has been instilled.
“… After locking up their backcourt of the future earlier in the draft, the Pistons are now potentially locking up the center position for the next 10 years with Jalen Duren. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft, but his upside is undeniable. He’s an incredible rim protector and could fill a role right away for the Pistons, possibly backing up Isaiah Stewart. The Pistons are shipping the 2025 first-round pick they got in the Jerami Grant deal to Charlotte in exchange for Duren.”
To Sporting News, Detroit’s draft was second to none. The site ranked the Pistons’ class No. 1 overall and gave it an “A+.”
“The Pistons were without a doubt the biggest winners of the night,” Irving wrote. “When Ivey — the best guard in this class — fell to them at No. 5, that locked up their backcourt of the future alongside Cade Cunningham. Then, Detroit traded for an athletic and physically imposing big man in Duren, rapidly building its core of young and talented players.”
CBS gave the Pistons an “A+” for getting Ivey, another “A+” for Duren and a “C” for Procida.
“Ivey is an explosive athlete who plays big and is capable of attacking the rim in a variety of ways,” the CBS crew wrote. “Comparisons to Ja Morant don’t really add up for Ivey, but he’s an outstanding player nonetheless. There are questions about whether he’s actually going to be a point guard in the NBA, but now he’s paired with Cade Cunningham, a natural distributor.”
CBS labeled the Charlotte Hornets’ decision to trade the No. 13th pick as one of the draft’s biggest surprises.
“Duren isn’t the type of floor-spacing big franchises prefer these days, but he’s such a physical specimen and great athlete that there’s probably a place for him in the modern NBA anyway,” Parrish and Boone wrote. “He’d have been a top five pick 20 years ago, and he’s got great upside to be successful in rim-attacking offense and interior defense.
“Procida brings great positional size and projects as a quality shooter after showing some promising development over the last year. He’s probably a stash candidate who won’t be in the NBA for a while, though, and as someone who was ranked outside our second round projections, it’s difficult to see the value at No. 36.”
Chandler Engelbrecht is a reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press and can be reached at CEngelbrecht@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @ctengelbrecht.