If there is one thing to remember in this restoration era with the Detroit Pistons, never doubt Troy Weaver.
The third-year shot-caller building Detroit’s roster has been nothing short of a miracle worker. When some franchise moves initially appear as confusing, the result of Weaver’s visions has shown his genius in reviving this team.
The Pistons, without question, walked away as winners in the 2022 NBA Draft. Headlining their night of selections are first-rounders Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. They closed their night, acquiring a second-round project from Italy, Gabriel Procida.
Each of these picks were acquired in a surprising fashion. Major needs were adequately addressed, the talent is clearly upgraded, and the Pistons are still set up favorably to improve their roster for the future. Weaver has repeatedly emphasized the importance of not “skipping steps” in this rebuilding process. The first-round picks are young enough to keep the development plan on track while potentially becoming a dark horse threat in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit Pistons No. 5 Pick, G Jaden Ivey: Grade A+
The dream for the Purdue product came true tonight. Jaden Ivey openly admits he was interested in playing for the Pistons. His mother, Niele Ivey, played for the Detroit Shock in 2005, and his late grandfather James Hunter played defensive back for the Detroit Lions from 1976-1982. Ivey now gets to add that to that family legacy as the Pistons’ No. 5 overall selection.
“I was just so happy to be a Piston.”
Jaden Ivey sat down with @krystenpeek to explain why his selection by Detroit at the NBA draft was such an emotional one for him and his family ❤️
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) June 24, 2022
Detroit’s pick relied heavily on the direction of the Sacramento Kings draft. Reports indicated that the Kings expressed very little interest in drafting Ivey and had their eyes set on Iowa forward Keegan Murray instead. Ivey never worked out or interviewed with the Kings. That speculation turned out to be real as the Kings opted to select Murray at No. 4.
Rumors were circulating that teams could trade up to 4 to pick Ivey early. The Knicks were most aggressive in these discussions the night before the draft and the night of the draft. The Pistons were, fortunately, able to land the 6’5 200-pound guard without giving up anything.
Ivey is a top-tier prospect and a perfect complement to last year’s No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham. Troy Weaver loves adding versatile athletes to the roster, and Ivey certainly fits that mold. He drew lots of comparisons to Memphis star guard Ja Morant with his electric first step and athleticism finishing around the rim.
Shooting is also an improved skill as he raised his college 3-point-percentage from 26% his freshman year to 36% this past season. His handle and vision will also be an advantage that allows Cunningham to play off the ball at times. He is strong and quick enough to be a serviceable defender as well. Ivey’s ceiling is extremely high, and he could come into the 2022-23 season as a favorite for Rookie of the Year.
Detroit Pistons No. 13 Pick (traded from Charlotte Hornets via New York Knicks), C Jalen Duren: Grade A+
This move could go down as the biggest shock of the entire draft. The Pistons spent much of the day rumored to have interest in acquiring Charlotte Hornets veteran Gordon Hayward. His contract expires after the next two seasons, and the Hornets made it known they were looking to help clear cap space to retain restricted free agent Miles Bridges.
Charlotte also had two first-round picks at No. 13 and 15, making one expendable as they were attempting to create space on the roster.
Detroit also spent lots of time in Wednesday’s news cycle after trading forward Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers. The return of the deal came off as a headscratcher when the Pistons received a 2025 first-round pick from the Milwaukee Bucks and the No. 36 second-round pick. It felt like the Blazers finessed Grant for very little in the exchange, but Troy Weaver revealed his genius one more time.
The Pistons packaged that 2025 first-round pick for veteran guard Kemba Walker and the rights to the No. 13 pick, which turned into Memphis center Jalen Duren. Walker is owed $9 million entering the final year of his contract and will likely be bought out, becoming a free agent.
Duren is only 18 years old and has the upside of a top-10 draft pick. Weaver ended up using the return from Jerami Grant’s trade for a lottery selection, which was what most thought he would be moved for.
Duren can be productive in so many ways with the Pistons. The 6’11, 250-pound big can be an instant threat in pick-and-roll play with Detroit’s guards. With his 7’5 wingspan, Duren should control the paint as a rebounder and shot-blocker. He was efficient enough, averaging 8.1 rebounds, three offensive rebounds, and 2.1 blocked shots per game in his freshman season.
The Pistons also can attack heavily in fast breaks, with Ivey and Duren running in transition with Cunningham. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Duren is an enormous upgrade to Detroit’s frontcourt, and Weaver moved very little to get him.
The Pistons are also still working with the most cap space in the NBA entering free agency. Many reports have linked Detroit to restricted free agent center DeAndre Ayton as a match. Adding Duren provides major leverage and insurance in favor of the Pistons.
If they strike out in agreeing to a deal with Ayton, they’re not exiting the offseason empty-handed in terms of finding a big man. Drafting Duren while still sitting lots of space doesn’t make Ayton a free agent necessity anymore. The Pistons can now afford to spend elsewhere if they decide to move in another direction.
Detroit Pistons No. 36 Pick (traded from Blazers) SF Gabriele Procida: Grade C
While the first-round selections could pan out sooner than later, their second-round selection could be a project for the future. The Pistons drafted Italy forward Gabriele Procida as a development piece to the roster.
Procida stands at 6’7 and has an impressive skillset on the court. He is an efficient shooter at 52% from the field and 38% from the 3-point line. The product from Italy is also an impressive athlete with a smooth sense of ball handling.
— Tyler Moorman (@TmoormanNBA) June 24, 2022
The two first-round steals were so impactful it somewhat diminished Detroit’s necessity to find an immediate contributor at No. 36. It is very possible we do not see much of Procida outside of Summer League and maybe G-League action.
Most of Procida’s early years will be spent getting him used to the adjustments of the NBA and developing his skill set. There could be a rotational spot on the bench for him in the future, but those expectations are low at this given moment.