Here are four potential options for the Pistons at No. 5 in the NBA Draft

Detroit News

Chicago — Now that the dust has settled and the NBA Draft order is official, the Pistons can shift their focus to evaluating their options at the fifth pick.

Victor Wembanyama’s future in San Antonio is almost a guarantee and the next tier of elite prospects in Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller likely will be unavailable by the time Detroit makes its decision, but there are a healthy group of forwards that could mesh well with that young nucleus in Motown.

The Pistons will conduct interviews and evaluations with several players during the final days of the NBA Draft Combine, which will allow them to better assess their character and background, which general manager Troy Weaver identifies as important qualities for anyone he brings into the organization.

It is unclear if any of the available players at No. 5 will carry the same weight that Jaden Ivey, the fifth overall pick in 2022, did as a rookie. If the Pistons can stay healthy, they won’t have to. That scenario would probably work out in their favor since they can come in without any added pressure.

Weaver also could opt to trade the pick to secure a more experienced player or future draft capital, especially since the team is aiming to turn its misfortunes around next season.

Here is a quick look at four options Detroit could consider drafting with the No. 5 pick in next month’s draft:

Cam Whitmore, Villanova

Whitmore possesses the size and athleticism that would mesh nicely with the Pistons core that includes Cade Cunningham, Ivey and Jalen Duren.

He’s an explosive forward who thrives on his downhill ability. He said at the combine he can come into the league and immediately make an impact on the defensive end.

Whitmore earned the Big East Freshman of the Year award after averaging 12.5 points and 5.3 rebounds on 47.8% shooting from the field, which included 34.3% from the 3-point line. He possesses the athletic abilities to finish at the rim and most importantly, defend on the perimeter, which fits the bill of the defensive wing that Detroit is looking for.

“The Pistons got some athletic guys,” Whitmore said Wednesday when asked about Detroit’s young core. “My boy Jalen Duren, Cade (Cunningham), Jaden Ivey, just athletic guys who can get the job done. You got (Isaiah) Stewart over there, a big dude, a big body who can get the job done athletically. It’s a great core young group of guys. We’re young, so we can jump out the gym, run up the floor.”

At the age of 18, Whitmore would easily become one of the youngest players in the league. Duren, the Pistons’ All-Rookie center, has a little over month left of being the NBA’s youngest player. Whitmore said he tries not to pay attention to the narrative that his youth makes him unprepared for the rigors of the NBA.

“I’ve always been the youngest coming up,” Whitmore said. “Having a mature type of body and mentality is what you need to stay in the NBA, so I think that’s what I have and I’m ready for it.”

Whitmore said he’s meeting with several teams this week, including the Pistons.

“Most likely. I’m probably going to meet with them this week, for sure,” Whitmore said.

Jarace Walker, Houston

Houston forward Jarace Walker was inside the room when it was announced that the Pistons would receive the fifth pick in next month’s draft. He said Detroit and the Houston Rockets’ drop out of the top-three “shocked” him.

Walker, a 6-foot-7, 249 pound forward, is the player most mock drafts have the Pistons selecting with their first pick in the draft. He possesses interior scoring skills, athleticism and positional versatility that could be similar to that of Stewart.

“I feel like it would be a fun group,” Walker said. “I feel like we would get up and down. It would definitely be fun and exciting because they definitely have some good young guards. I feel like it would be a fun group to plug in and play with.”

Walker said he spoke to San Antonio, Utah, Portland and Oklahoma City on Wednesday morning with plans to speak to Detroit later this week. Those teams highlighted his defensive intensity and passing ability, two areas that could help the Pistons improve instantly.

Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite

The Pistons need a two-way forward, but having another shot creator and facilitator with Amen Thompson’s 6-7 frame wouldn’t hurt.

Amen Thompson is perhaps the more likely of the Overtime Elite twins to be drafted first. The film from his most recent season shows superb athleticism, a tight handle and finishing ability with either hand. He spoke to reporters Wednesday and broke down his game for those who may be unfamiliar.

“I think just being able to get wherever I want and getting to the paint anytime I want, facilitate, lock up (point guards through small forwards), I think a lot translates,” he said.

He described the best fit for him is a fast and flowing team that can get out in transition, which Detroit could become with the young backcourt of Cunningham and Ivey, who’s one of the fastest players in the league.

Thompson spoke to Portland and Orlando with the intention to speak with more teams in the league as the combine concludes.

Brandon Miller, Alabama

There’s a slim — and I mean slim, as in less than a 10% — chance Miller slips to the fifth pick and the Pistons get their wish of drafting inside the top two elite tiers.

Miller, a 6-foot-9 forward, spoke to the media for the first time since the gun controversy that overshadowed his spectacular freshman season at Alabama. When asked how teams at the combine have approached him about the incident, Miller said every team asked him about it and he conveyed that he should be more aware of his surroundings.

“The message that I presented to them is that it’s all a lesson learned,” Miller said to a large group of reporters. “You always have to be aware of your surroundings and I feel like the night could’ve changed my career in less than a heartbeat.”

He stood by that message when asked specific follow-up questions about the incident and later said he wants to surround himself with the right people, which included Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland.

The Pistons are among the teams that met with Miller, although it’s not clear whether the conversations occurred before or after the team sank to the fifth pick. He said his feedback from the Pistons’ brass included getting in the weight room, along with working on a higher release for his jump shot.

San Antonio, Charlotte, Portland and Houston moved ahead of Detroit on Tuesday night. It’s going to be a longshot, but I’d imagine the Pistons being very happy if Miller is still on the board at No. 5.

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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