Draft Day: Ranking the Pistons’ Top 10 Prospects

It’s Draft Day!

With over 50 prospects worked out over the course of the last month, the Pistons presumably have a full grasp (and then some) on how they envision tonight’s events playing out.

The Pistons currently hold the eighth selection in the first round of tonight’s draft (7:00 p.m., ESPN) but with the uncertainty of how the top picks will shake out, alongside the weakening but still somewhat legitimate possibility of the Pistons trading down, we’ve cranked out a list of our top ten Pistons prospects for tonight’s proceedings (sans Kristaps Porzingis, who has suddenly become a top three prospect):

  1. Justise Winslow, 6’7” 222 lbs, Duke (Highlights): Winslow is currently playing the role previously held by the likes of Brandon Knight and Andre Drummond, as the guy who’s predicted to be gone by the Pistons’ selection but may have the possibility of falling into their laps given the correct set of circumstances. Similar in stature and play to Arizona’s Stanley Johnson, Winslow is considered the more refined version of the two. If he were to fall to the eighth selection, there’s little doubt Detroit would take a flier on Winslow, who fits the profile of one of their biggest needs: a versatile small forward who can defend.
  2. Mario Hezonja, 6’8” 200 lbs, Spain (Highlights): On account of Hezonja’s season overseas still ongoing, he did not perform in any official workouts for NBA teams. Still, the 19-year-old’s athleticism and shooting acumen appear high-level via mixtape, but his stock has fluctuated as NBA teams attempt to gauge just how well his abilities will translate stateside. Given these various factors, he appears to be an intriguing  risk as a means of filling the Pistons gap at the three – if he’s still available.
  3. Stanley Johnson, 6’7” 242 lbs, Arizona (Highlights): Johnson stands as one of the Pistons’ most likely options at #8, in terms of fit and availability. He boasts an NBA-ready frame and the capability of hitting from outside, though translating that range to the NBA line is not always an absolute (he shot 37% from deep in college). One of Johnson’s biggest draws, like Winslow, may be his defensive versatility, becoming of increasing importance in today’s floor-spreading NBA offenses.
  4. Frank Kaminsky, 7’1” 231 lbs, Wisconsin (Highlights): Kaminsky’s been a polarizing option amongst fans in Detroit and we admit we don’t quite know what to do with him here. We assume coach and team president Stan Van Gundy will be looking to explore multiple ways to fill the gap at the small forward position (hence the first three options) but beyond Andre Drummond and the recently acquired Ersan Ilyasova, the cupboard’s a little bare up front. Could a semi-mobile seven-footer with range embed himself within Van Gundy’s system?
  5. Willie Cauley-Stein, 7’1” 242 lbs, Kentucky (Highlight): Cauley-Stein is the only member of this list who did not have an official workout with the Pistons. However, they did interview him at the Draft Combine, and while his offensive skills are limited, this is a man with a 7’3” wingspan, low body fat for a big (6.3%), and a penchant for defending the pick & roll. Such a move may seem redundant with Drummond already in the middle, but in the event Drummond’s taking a seat due to fatigue or fouls (both common occurrences), who’s holding down the fort behind him? All that said, it’s worth noting there’s a varying degree of concern regarding a prior injury that may cause Cauley-Stein to slide.
  1. Devin Booker, 6’6” 206 lbs, Kentucky (Highlights): A Grand Rapids product, Booker diverges from the Pistons’ predicted draft plan of selecting a small forward or stretch four. At 6-foot-6 with questionable defensive instincts, Booker seems locked in as a career two-guard. However, his propensity to shoot the lights out (41.1% from three at Kentucky with 178 of his 200 shots in the half-court coming from beyond the arc) has made him a favorite of the Detroit Free Press’ Drew Sharp. With the Pistons likely to pursue a starting small forward in free agency, could drafting a knock-down shooting guard make sense?
  2. Bobby Portis, 6’11” 246 lbs, Arkansas (Highlights): At 6-foot-11, Portis stands as another prospect that’d more likely serve as an Andre Drummond back-up more than anything else at this point. A bundle of energy, Portis can shoot, but not well enough to be considered a legitimate floor-stretcher. As a result, he’s more of the traditional big man ilk, with a solid jump hook to boot. Portis may signal the official start of the “only if the Pistons trade down” prospects.
  3. Kelly Oubre, 6’7” 203 lbs, Kansas (Highlights): Oubre fits right into the mold of athletic, long-bodied small forward prospect gauged largely off of potential more than results to this point. DraftExpress said it best: “Once his frame fills out (he has plenty of room to add another 10-15 pounds, if not more) and he figures out how to play with the same type of intensity level on every possession, he has a chance to be an absolute handful on this end of the floor, as long as he puts his mind to it.” Not necessarily the glowing endorsement one would prefer to hear.
  4. Sam Dekker, 6’9” 219 lbs, Wisconsin (Highlights): Dekker stands as another “trade down” option. He doesn’t appear to be a surefire difference maker, and hence not the Pistons’ answer at small forward, but he’s scrappy and does a bit of everything; he’s more than willing to clean the glass, run the floor, and generally fill in the blanks. Questions remain regarding shooting consistency and ball-handling.
  5. Myles Turner, 7’0” 239 lbs, Texas (Highlights): A solid rebounder and rim protector, but questions abound otherwise. The 19-year-old Turner manages a capable mid-range game but is still looking for consistency in other offensive elements. Moreover, he reportedly struggles with foul trouble and defending the pick & roll, both of which could present a problem in Detroit, where it may make little sense for the team to take a risk on an unproven big when more pressing needs exist elsewhere.

Second Round

  1. Rakeem Christmas, 6’10” 243 lbs, Syracuse (Highlights): Christmas is older than four-year NBA veteran Brandon Knight, so this is a case of “what you see is what you get”. But with a 7’5” wingspan and a full college career’s worth of experience, it’s not outside the realm of possibility for the Pistons to take a chance on Christmas to see if he could serve as a potential reserve up front.
  2. Terran Petteway, 6’6” 209 lbs, Nebraska (Highlights): The 6-foot-6 Petteway had two workouts for the Pistons, which could be interpreted a couple of ways. Either the Pistons are legitimately interested in Petteway’s services in the second round or they just wanted a wily defender on tap to push their other prospects to the limit during workouts. Then again, it could have been a little bit of both. Petteway struggled from deep in college but as a second round pick with a disruptive 6’10” wingspan, he could carve out a niche as a defensive specialist.
  3. Jordan Mickey, 6’8” 240 lbs, LSU (Highlights): Vince Ellis drew attention to Mickey’s game this past Sunday and while predicting the second round can often be reduced to a series of blind shots in the dark, Mickey would seem to fit the profile of a team need. With a 7’3” wingspan, impressive lateral quickness, and 37.5” max vertical, Mickey provides enough defensive upside to be worthy of a second round risk, if there is such a thing.
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