What could new President of Basketball Operations Trajan Langdon’s NBA Draft board look like?

Detroit Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons finally got their guy. Trajan Langdon will lead the team as their new President of Basketball Operations, which was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Thursday.

Langdon has plenty of decisions to make, most notably surrounding the future of general manager Troy Weaver and head coach Monty Williams. Langdon also has his first draft at the helm of Detroit on the immediate horizon.

Langdon comes to the Pistons after he served as the New Orleans Pelicans’ general manager for the past five seasons. While we don’t know New Orleans’ decision making process behind the scenes, Langdon at least had a hand in the selections of Jordan Hawkins, Dyson Daniels, Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III and the no-brainer pick of Zion Williamson at No. 1 overall in 2019.

Now, I can’t help but wonder what Langdon’s draft philosophy will look like in Detroit and who specifically he may target in June’s draft.

So, let’s put together a potential big board with New Orleans’ recent draft hauls in mind. With that caveat in mind, you have to think Langdon and the Pistons will target 3-and-D wings. The Pelicans wing room is packed and debatably the best in the NBA with Murphy, Jones, Daniels and Naji Marshall on top of a star-type player like Brandon Ingram and a sharpshooter in Hawkins.

I don’t think the wing archetype is the only priority for Langdon, though. Big man Jonas Valančiūnas was able to stretch the floor at times for the Pelicans, which is a role that would immensely benefit a Pistons roster surrounding Cade Cunningham. Defense must be a priority, which Daniels helped address in New Orleans, so maybe a top perimeter defender is high on Langdon’s board for the Pistons.

Below is my top-five board for the Pistons with the Langdon hire in mind. Wings are prioritized, but you can get a player to address that role in free agency or via trade as well. I’m excluding Perth big man Alex Sarr from this exercise, as he is the one prospect I believe with certainty won’t be available for the Pistons at No. 5 overall.

No. 1: Zaccharie Risacher – JL Bourg, wing

Risacher fits the coveted 3-and-D archetype better than any top prospect in this draft class in my opinion. I think he can be fairly low maintenance at the next level, playing off the ball while knocking down shots and defending on the other end.

Amid recent shooting slumps, he’s shot 38.3% from three throughout his pre-draft season in the French league. Risacher has also shown defensive tools which make you think he can stay afloat fairly immediately in the NBA. He’s not a perfect defender by any means. He needs to add some strength and improve his ability to guard other positions without getting blown by. He has the size, length and skillset to be a strong defender, though. Coupled with his shooting and driving ability, as well as decent athleticism and touch to finish near the rim, Risacher feels like the ideal prospect for Langdon as a player who can complement Cunningham.

No. 2: Donovan Clingan – UConn, big

The Pelicans haven’t drafted a big man recently, so Clingan up this high on the board is a gut feeling to address another need for the Pistons. He protects the rim and is an impact defender, amid conditioning concerns which could impact his ability to stay on the floor early on in his NBA career.

Following the recent NBA Draft combine, there has been buzz around Clingan’s ability to shoot the three. I’m not sure how real his shooting ability is, as he has never shot the three efficiently or at volume, but if Clingan can develop as a perimeter shooter, he may even be the top prospect on my board for the Pistons.

Clingan’s legitimacy to shoot the three may only be smoke. Maybe it’s just a ploy to up his draft stock and get him paid. Shooting in a game is a lot different than a workout or practice setting. But, what if it’s not smoke? Sometimes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

No. 3: Ron Holland – G League Ignite, wing

This is where things get interesting.

Truthfully, I’ve often disregarded Holland to Detroit because he isn’t known as a prospect who will make a living with his shot. He’s a great slasher and projects to be a good NBA defender fairly quickly. Holland may have the most upside to develop into a star in this class. For the Pistons, no player is a certain building block for the future other than Cunningham. What if Holland is a true second-star you can put next to Cade, then you can fill the roster with shooters and rim protectors from there?

Holland has plenty of questions. He needs to take better care of the ball, but he was asked to do a ton for the Ignite throughout his pre-draft season on a roster that wasn’t built for winning basketball.

He’s a scary athlete and attacks the rim with force, even through contact. His effort isn’t a question. Holland very well could be a secondary star for the Pistons and maybe Langdon sees it that way, too.

No. 4: Cody Williams – Colorado, wing

I promise, this is the last wing I’ll include in this top-five.

Williams’ stock slowed for me as he finished his freshman season at Colorado. He fought through various injuries over the year, which could have impacted his play, but he didn’t “wow” me to end the year while other prospects played their way up my board at the same time.

Williams fits the 3-and-D archetype and he’s a true upside swing in this draft class. He shot the three at a high rate, although on lower volume, but he still projects as a strong shooter that has the length to impact the defensive end of the floor. Not to mention, Williams has tremendous touch around the rim and has shown some crafty finishes. He won’t just stand in the corner and shoot threes, although he needs to improve as a shot creator. He needs to add strength to his frame also, but he’s a young prospect who just needs the time to do so.

Maybe Langdon sees Williams as a perfect fit for the Pistons down the road and wants to develop him in-house. The Pistons, along with Williams, need time, which is an unfortunate truth. Langdon could take the marathon approach with Williams.

No. 5: Jared McCain – Duke, guard

McCain may seem a bit rich at this spot considering other prospects on the short list here, but hear me out.

The Pistons need shooters, whether that’s through the draft, free agency or trades. I think that McCain, who shot 41.4% from deep in his freshman season at Duke, may be the best shooter in his draft class.

That’s not all McCain does, though. He’s a great rebounder for a guard, even though he’s undersized at 6-foot-3. He’s a good playmaker who can play on or off the ball, which lends itself to either playing next to Cunningham as a floor spacer or as a primary ballhandler in the second unit.

McCain looked good at the combine and I think he could shoot the heck out of the ball during pre-draft workouts, making teams jump for him a bit higher than consensus may say.

Plus, Langdon may be inclined toward a sharpshooter from Duke, considering he was one himself. I’m not saying Langdon will draft a player solely because of his alma mater, but McCain could be the NBA’s next great sharpshooter, with a whole lot of other skills to boot.

Where do you see the Pistons’ draft board shaking out after the Langdon hire?

Although there were a ton of prospects I had a tough time leaving off this board, I’ll leave you with the one name I had the most difficulty excluding: Cholet Basket wing Tidjane Salaun.

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