As it stands, the Detroit Pistons have the second-worst record in the NBA and if the season ended today, they would be tied with the Magic and Rockets with a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
A lot can still change but as we speak, the three players mentioned as favorites to be the No. 1 overall pick are Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn), and Paolo Banchero (Duke).
In the latest 2022 NBA Mock Draft put out by Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, he has the Pistons winning the NBA Draft Lottery (again) and selecting Jabari Smith Jr. out of Auburn.
Here is what Vecenie has to say about the Pistons selecting Smith Jr. No. 1 overall.
Jabari Smith Jr. | 6-10 forward | 18 years old | Auburn
OK, so here we go. I have Smith at No. 1 entering the new year, but it’s a razor-thin margin between him, Banchero and Holmgren. Why Smith? I think his upside is juuuuust a bit higher than the other two if everything breaks right with his game. He’s one of the best shooting big men to enter college hoops in a long time. His percentages going back to high school are terrific, his marks so far at Auburn are great and his mechanics are pristine. At 6-foot-10, he can grab and go on the break and create havoc with his ability to get his own shot. He can pull up from midrange or from 3. He’s averaging 16 points and seven rebounds per game while playing solid defense for the Tigers. He’s switchable on the perimeter and has good weakside rotational instincts. The name “Kevin Durant” is starting to come up with Smith during broadcasts, but he’s not that because he’s nowhere near the half-court creator Durant was, even at Texas. But if all goes right, Smith profiles well as a good team’s second-best scoring option who can also be a strong defensive player. That’s a scalable player to winning situations, and he fits exceedingly well in Detroit given the Pistons’ disastrous shooting this year.
Nation, if the Pistons win the Draft Lottery and get the No. 1 pick, who do you think they should select?