Troy Weaver came into last year’s draft with just one pick and came away with a class of four that he dubbed in their introductory press conference as the “core four”.
While there were some questions that came out of those selections, the play of those young prospects has hushed most of the doubters.
Killian Hayes has been sidelined for most of the year due to injury but was able to show glimpses of his playmaking ability.
Saddiq Bey’s up and down season has been highlighted by his Eastern Conference player of the week selection following a 30-point 12 rebound performance against the Celtics. Bey’s defensive versatility gives the Pistons a solid building block on both ends of the floor.
Isaiah Stewart has already become a fan favorite with his intensity on both ends while showing that his offensive game has room to grow.
Even second-round pick Saben Lee has had some stellar performances, including a 21-point outing versus Orlando a few nights back.
Sitting at the worst record in the east and second worst in the league, odds are Detroit won’t be fighting for a playoff spot, so it probably isn’t too early to look at potential prospects in the upcoming class.
Let’s go through some prospects that may pique the interest of Weaver when the draft comes around this summer.
Top Five Pick
Barring a substantial win streak, Detroit should sit comfortably in the top five of this year’s draft.
The lottery luck of the Pistons, however, points to them dropping from their spot, so for the sake of this exercise, let’s say Detroit falls to the fourth pick in the draft.
With Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Jonathan Kuminga more than likely off the board with this pick, it comes down to two guys for Weaver: Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs.
Both come in with roughly the same measurements of around 6-5 with a +2-3 wingspan.
Suggs is having a tremendous college season with #1 ranked Gonzaga, averaging 14 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per contest, while shining on the biggest stages this year, including a 27 point performance against Iowa.
Green took his talents to the G-League and after a slow start has really come into his own as a scorer and has shown off his elite athleticism with high-flying dunks and a handful of poster slams. Green leads the Ignite at 16.8 points per game while shooting 37% from three and 47% from the floor.
The major difference between these two is their impacts on the defensive end.
While Green has shown improvements on that end from his high school career, there are going to be plenty of growing pains once he gets to the league.
Suggs, however, has been a pest to opposing guards all season long, averaging two steals a night and a half of a block per game as well.
Weaver’s track record in OKC was to take the more athletically gifted player and hope the tools pan out. With one draft under his belt, though, Weaver selected just one uber athletic guard, and that came with Lee as the 38th pick.
Even with Hayes on the roster, Suggs is probably the choice with his defensive ability giving him the nod, creating the potential for a lethal defensive backcourt in Detroit for years to come.
Mid to Late First Round
If last year is any indication of Weaver’s draft game plan, odds are he will do whatever he can to load up on draft picks, hoping to snag a pick late in the first round.
If that’s the case and they can secure another first-round pick, two names really stick out to me on Sam Vecenie’s Big Board on The Athletic who were early season lottery picks. They are both 19-year-old wings out of Kentucky, B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke.
It is pretty clear how lackluster of a season Kentucky has had this year after getting off to their worst start in program history in almost 100 years, and the play from both wings hasn’t been good by any means.
Boston is shooting a dreadful 28% from three, while Clarke is at an even worse clip of 23% and was ruled out for the season a month ago because of a foot injury.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen top prospects underperform under Calipari. Just last season, Tyrese Maxey didn’t come off the board until Philadelphia took him at 21 and has been playing like a lottery pick all year long.
We have also seen Detroit this year as a place for a career resurgence with guys like Josh Jackson and Dennis Smith Jr. given time to find their game that made them top 10 picks. Detroit could give either of these players a chance to find their form and prove why they were top prospects before the season started.
The tools to be successful at the next level are there for both wings, but if Weaver is to stick with the mindset of defensive ability over offensive potential, Clarke may be the choice as Boston will have some room to grow as he sits at just over 180 pounds.
Second Round Picks
Sitting with two second-round picks for the moment, there will be plenty of options of Weaver.
The first selection that would be enticing, and a bit of selfish pick from my part, is Herb Jones from Alabama.
Jones has much improved his shot and playmaking each year he’s been at Alabama and with his size (6’8’’ 210) gives you tremendous defensive versatility.
Weaver, though, may want to add another big in this draft and a guy like Yves Pons fits the bill.
Pons may be undersized at just 6’7’’ but plays much bigger than that, which shows with his 107 blocks through his last 52 games at Tennessee.
Weaver also gets his athlete, as he has put together several highlight worthy dunks throughout his four years with the Volunteers.
This is going to be a much deeper class than we saw in 2020, and if Weaver could put together the type of class he did last year, the sky’s the limit for what he can assemble this year.