They say acceptance is the fifth and final stage of grieving. Oh the irony.
Pistons fans around the world are still recovering from last week’s NBA Draft lottery, which saw the league’s worst team drop to fifth pick when the real thing happens in June. Since the NBA changed its lottery odds, Detroit became the first team with the worst record to fall all the way to No. 5. Someone had to do it, eventually. Fan of pistons, surely, ask, “Why us?”
The show, however, must go on, and if Detroit doesn’t end up trading the No. 5 pick, it will have several good players to choose from. Not Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson good, but good.
Here I will list who I believe will be on the Pistons big board at No. 5, with Wembanyama and Henderson out of the picture. Enjoy; or at least try.
1.Brandon Miller | wing 6-9 | 20 years | Alabama
Look, I wouldn’t put any money on Miller being available at number 5. He shouldn’t go down that far. However, I would not be shocked if he did.
For starters, teams will do due diligence on the incident Miller was involved in in Alabama. Second, there are reports that he hasn’t interviewed well with NBA teams and is not in top form. Finally, the consensus on Miller is that he is the “safest” choice of prospects behind Wembanyama. He’s a 6-foot-9 winger who can shoot, isn’t a handicap on defense, can pass off the pick-and-roll but isn’t super athletic, not an elite finisher and he doesn’t Nor is it a Paul George-esque handle. There’s a lot to love about Miller as a ballplayer. A lot. There are also flaws, however. There’s a world where, when you put those three things together, that *I* could see teams rating Villanova’s Cam Whitmore or Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson higher. The teams have a history of playing on the rise.
Again, I don’t think that’s happening, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it did, so I’d rather include Miller in this specific big tip than leave it out.
The Pistons are very high on Miller. If he’s there at #5, he’s the choice, assuming all background checks. It fills a dire need on the list and, at the same time, has a benefit beyond just being “safe”.
Detroit, of course, wanted Wembanyama, but he was also asking the basketball gods for a top-3 pick. Miller or Henderson would have been welcomed with open arms in the Motor City. I think there’s a non-zero chance that Miller could still finish a Piston.
2.Jarace Walker | 6-8 forward | 19 years old | Houston
If the Pistons want to focus on the defensive side of the ball and continue to build their foundation that way, Walker is the choice.
He stands 6ft 8in with a wingspan of 7ft 2in, has great defensive instincts, athletic and switchable on the pitch. The question NBA teams need to ask themselves is, how good can he be offensively?
Walker is a very good passer and playmaker, his shooting from distance has improved this season and I believe he has more creation on the ball in him than he was able to show in Houston. There is a world where I could see Walker being an effective small forward in the NBA if all goes well with his shooting and his ball handling ends up being better than the consensus seems to believe. Until that happens, however, he is a power forward who can also play small-ball 5.
Defensively, a Jalen Duren–Isaiah Stewart-Walker frontcourt would be damn fun to watch as an observer and annoying for opponents to score. Offensively, that might have his hiccups if Stewart doesn’t end up being the floor spacer, I think he will be and Walker’s shot or ball handling doesn’t immediately translate.
3. Cam Whitmore | wing 6-7 | 18 years old | Villanova
Whitmore has a lot of qualities to love for the Pistons at No. 5, assuming he is available.
He carries a big advantage mainly due to his athleticism and ability to attack the rim. He has a solid, compact frame to go with his explosiveness that is sure to have defenders guessing to get in his way. Whitmore can create his own shot and has a jumper I believe in, despite shooting just 34 percent on 3 last season at Villanova.
Whitmore’s feel for the game, however, raises a lot of questions. He averaged less than one assist per game in his first year. There was a lot of tunnel vision. NBA teams will have to figure out if that’s just who he is or if the lack of help with the Wildcats has contributed a lot to it. Defensively, Whitmore is a solid defender due to his size and foot speed. He is better on the ball than off it.
It’s easy to see how Whitmore fits effortlessly alongside Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, but Detroit would benefit greatly from having as many high-IQ basketball players as possible during this stage of the rebuild if the goal is to make a move. ahead. Whitmore needs to prove to teams that he can do more offensively than just put the ball in the basket.
4.Taylor Hendricks | 6-9 forward | 19 years old | UCF
Hendricks is tricky because NBA teams really have to buy him as a ball handler and playmaker to see the benefits but if that happens man we could be talking about one of the best players in this class in five years. .
Hendricks has a wingspan of over 7 feet and tends to be all over the field. Defensively, he moves his feet well, has great switchability and has great chops as a weakside rim protector. Offensively, as I said before, his cap will depend on his growth as a ball handler and playmaker, but he should be able to step in and be a hard-hitting 3-and-D player right away. , given that he shot 39.4% from 3 as a freshman. It is also an excellent rebounder for its size.
Hendricks checks a lot of boxes for the Pistons, both in terms of team need and potential upside.
5. Amen Thompson | 6-7 point guard | 20 years | Overtime Elite
I wouldn’t be surprised if Thompson is already off the board when the Pistons pick No. 5, but his one advantage makes him worthy of high consideration if he’s there, despite the not-perfect fit on the roster.
Thompson is a point guard. This is what he will be at the next level in order to reach his peak as a prospect. Thompson is a terrific athlete who attacks the rim hard and has great body control. He really stands up. In addition, Thompson sees the game very well with the ball in his hands and makes high level readings. Shooting is his biggest concern in attack. The mechanics aren’t great. To be fair, though, Thompson spent his time with Overtime Elite shooting from the NBA’s 3-point range, while college prospects will have to make that adjustment. Could this help him? Of course. He could also be far from a decent NBA shooter, if he ever gets there.
Defensively, Thompson isn’t the cleanest player in terms of discipline and mechanics, but his size and athleticism give him a real advantage on this side of the court. He makes defensive plays that make you stop and say, “Wow!”
As for the Pistons, the worst team in the league should never select the fit. If the decision makers see Thompson as the top prospect on the board at No. 5, he should be the pick. However, it’s hard to see how Thompson, a primary ball handler who can’t shoot, works alongside Cunningham and Ivey, both in the short and long term, Detroit should really, really believe in shooting Thompson and / or believe his upside will outpace Ivey’s going forward.
I believe there are other prospects that will be available at No. 5 who are a better fit for Detroit AND who still have a huge upside, but the question that needs to be answered is… will any of those players has the advantage of Thompson if everything breaks right?
I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question.
(Taylor Hendricks top photo: Jerome Miron/USA Today)