NBA Draft

Pistons Wise to Plan Without Wembanyama


The Detroit Pistons have made it abundantly clear that they are firmly in the running for the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

Over the course of the draft lottery’s existence, there have been many cases where the team who had the best odds to land the number one pick didn’t land it.

Though they have cemented themselves firmly in the bottom of the league, there is no guarantee they land this year’s most prized possession as the top-three teams only hold a 14% shot.

With that said, if they miss out on Wemby, where do they pivot?

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Henderson is Obvious Next Choice

The clear answer for a lot of fans and maybe even those within the organization would be pivoting to Scoot Henderson.

Henderson has cemented himself as the second-best prospect in this class behind Wemby. The generational athleticism, playmaking and deep scoring bag should guarantee that Henderson is the no brainer for Detroit. The guard is averaging 17.7 points (46% FG) and 5.7 assists for the G-League Ignite team with plenty of room for improvement once he hits the big leagues.

There’s one glaring issue, however. Henderson plays the same position as two of the Pistons’ franchise cornerstones. Surely the Pistons would want to use a top-five or even top-two pick on a player that could contribute on day one.

Drafting Henderson all but guarantees the Pistons would create a logjam at the guard position with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Killian Hayes.

Hayes in particular is entering the final year of his rookie contract after this season and could potentially be used as a trade chip to alleviate the clogging at the position.

However, Hayes has seemed to turn a corner in the absence of Cunningham which puts the front office in a difficult position in terms of an extension.

Fans and front-office personnel alike have flocked to Cunningham being the franchise player. Ivey is flashing plenty of potential as a key piece averaging 15.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

Henderson is an absolute can’t-miss prospect, but the drafting of another guard is sure to leave some fans scratching their head on what Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver plans to do with the others.

The terrific Thompsons

Bursting onto the scene as serious NBA prospects in late 2021, Amen and Ausar Thompson have no shortage of athleticism, length, shot making ability and overall intensity. There is one out of the two the Pistons could lean toward just for the sake of team need.

Ausar being the slightly-better long-range threat than Amen means he could possibly contribute more to the Pistons offense as they need all the help they can get for three-point shooting next to Cunningham. Over the past two seasons, the Pistons rank 29th and 20th in the league in three-point shooting percentage, respectively.

The addition of sharpshooting Bojan Bogdanovic helped with this, but the Pistons are still stuck in the bottom half of the league in that aspect.

Ausar also stands at 6’7″, which means he has the potential to play the small-forward position due to the Pistons’ utter lack of wing depth. With Saddiq Bey now in Atlanta, Detroit now only has three forwards on the roster and only one of them gets heavy minutes in Bogdanovic. The addition of Thompson could easily make the Pistons longer and more athletic.

The competition level of the Thompson twins could also have an affect on their draft position. Both opted to forgo college and prep for the draft playing in the Overtime Elite league where they play other top high-school prospects instead. With scouts possibly shying away from the Thompsons due to the fact they have zero professional and college experience, they could fall right in Detroit’s lap in the four-to-seven range.

Brilliance in Bama

From overseas and amateur leagues, Detroit could also look in the most traditional direction for prospects; college, particularly in the SEC.

Alabama boasts the ideal prospect for the Motor City — if they strike out on Wembanyama — in Brandon Miller. The 6’9 forward checks off about every box the Pistons could want. Simply put— Miller is a super scorer, averaging 18.7 points on a scorching 42.5% from three-point land on an Alabama team that is third in the nation.

Pairing Miller’s shot creation and shot making with the relentless slashing of Jaden Ivey and the natural playmaking of Cade Cunningham could make the Pistons a dangerous offensive threat for the foreseeable future. currently has the Pistons ranked 27th in the association in offensive efficiency. The Pistons haven’t cracked the top 20 in that category since the 2018-19 season.

Miller fits the mold of a Danny Granger-type scorer. A big wing that can simply fill it up is what the Pistons truly lack. Bojan Bogdanovic is the closest thing Detroit has to a go-to scorer. Bogdanovic also turns 34 in the spring, so there is the question of whether he fits the Pistons’ timeline despite inking an extension early in the season.

Weaver…we’re waiting

If Detroit strikes out on Wembanyama, there should be serious consideration for the team to move out of the number-two pick if they land that. Moving back can ensure the Pistons take someone who can actually fill a hole moving forward.

These prospects could easily make Detroit younger, more explosive and longer. If Detroit lucks out to get Wemby, then there’s no question with what to do there as he is a once-in-a-lifetime prospect. If they don’t. however, then Weaver needs to lay the groundwork to build around the pieces he already has.

Weaver is entering year five of the rebuild and only has Cade Cunningham to show for it.

Picking a direction and going with what the young Pistons need is the first step to properly rebuild.

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