1. Which player in this range should the Pistons especially covet?
Patrick Hayes: Trey Burke. He’s a top three or four player in this draft and, somehow, still a strong possibility to fall into Detroit’s range. Even better, he fills a need for the Pistons. Having Burke makes it less imperative that they re-sign Jose Calderon, which would allow them to focus their attention elsewhere in free agency and on the trade market.
Brady Fredericksen: There’s a couple, but on top of the list is Otto Porter and Ben McLemore. I know, both have the chance to be top-two selections, but with Washington apparently targeting UNLV’s Anthony Bennett at No. 3 and McLemore’s stock falling, there’s a distinct chance one falls to the Pistons at No. 8.
Dan Feldman: Trey Burke. He’s a pick-and-roll master, using his excellent ball-handling, court vision and jumper to eat up opposing defenses. He still has plenty of concerns – height, athleticism, defense – but he’d be a steal a couple picks before the Pistons are due up. At No. 8, he’s amazing value.
2. Which player in this range should the Pistons especially avoid?
Patrick Hayes: Cody Zeller. I’m not opposed to the Pistons taking a big despite the fact that the frontcourt appears to be the biggest position of strength on the roster. But I’m not sold on Zeller despite glowing reports of strong workouts. If the Pistons are going to add another young big to their frontcourt rotation, I’d hope for one with more defensive potential than Zeller appears to have.
Brady Fredericksen: Shabazz Muhammad. The chance he ends up being drafted by the Pistons is still quite possible, but the former No. 1 high school recruit has soured so many people over the last year. He doesn’t seem like a bad kid, really. He just fills a need, but in what capacity is he filling it? Is he going to defend or just go to his left and pull up for jumpers? It just seems like it’d be the team picking for need and not for BPA, which they should do.
Dan Feldman: Mason Plumlee. After my top choices are gone, there’s a wide range of flawed players with similar value: Shabazz Muhammad, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Cody Zeller, etc. I wouldn’t ding the Pistons for selecting any one of them if all my higher-tiered options are off the board. But don’t reach for Plumlee, who exceled at Duke mostly in large part because he was older than everyone else. That won’t help him in the NBA.
3. Which player is most likely to be chosen by the Pistons in this range?
Patrick Hayes: Shabazz Muhammad. I don’t love the pick, but I don’t hate it either. Muhammad is the scoring wing the Pistons need and there’s a chance that his so-so college production was a result of being part of a dysfunctional program rather than a red flag that he’s overrated. Taking a player who didn’t impress in one year of college despite extremely high expectations last year seemed to work out OK for the Pistons.
Brady Fredericksen: C.J. McCollum. That wouldn’t be a bad pick at all, either. McCollum isn’t talked up as much as other prospects, in part, because of his season-ending injury this year. Don’t forget, he absolutely schooled Austin Rivers and Seth Curry in Lehigh’s NCAA Tournament upset over Duke two years ago. He’s got a reliable jumper and unlimited confidence, which is always a good trait to have as a scoring guard in this league.
Dan Feldman: Michael Carter-Williams. I’m somewhat hedging my bets, but Carter-Williams has a good chance to be there at No. 8 and could be the pick whether or not Burke is still on the board. I’m not sure many other players fit both qualifications. If the Pistons still see Brandon Knight as key to their future, Carter-Williams complements Knight well. Carter-Williams, in theory, brings the size and playmaking Knight lacks, and Knight has the shooting Carter-Williams lacks.
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