The Detroit Pistons went into the NBA Draft on Thursday night as a wildcard, with several potential blockbuster trades in play. They ended the draft with a roster overhaul.
Detroit Pistons’ basketball is in full “restore” mode.
After all, that is what new Pistons’ general manager Troy Weaver said several months ago. He desired to restore greatness to the organization, not the sexy buzz word of “rebuild.” And judging by the looks of his first draft, he did just that.
Troy Weaver did something fans have not seen a Detroit Pistons G.M. do it quite some time, if ever.
He was AGGRESSIVE!
No, Weaver did not trade up to any of the top three picks to select LaMelo Ball, a move that lots of Pistons fans wanted. However, he made sensible trades before and during the draft to get rid of unproductive talent. And by “unproductive talent,” I mean talent that did not produce wins. In addition to that, he effectively put his stamp on this team.
Please make no mistake about it. The Detroit Pistons added some dawgs Wednesday night.
Detroit Pistons taking Killian Hayes with the No. 7 was not a good pickup. It was a great pickup.
If social media is any indicator of how Pistons fans feel about the team selecting Killian Hayes with the 7th overall pick, it’s a mixed reaction. On the one hand, there is a group of fans who wanted Tyrese Haliburton from Iowa State.
And trust me. I get it.
On the Woodward Sports mock draft, we predicted Haliburton to fall to the Pistons. ESPN’s Jay Bilas (along with many other analysts) touted Haliburton as one of the most pro-ready players in the draft. Last season at Iowa State, Haliburton averaged 15.2 points on 51% shooting, 5.9 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. Along with that, he shot 43.4% from beyond the arc.
As good as those numbers are, Haliburton struggles with creating his shot. Furthermore, he doesn’t shoot well off the dribble, and his shot release is slow by NBA standards. It will give defenders a chance to react to it.
There is where the Killian Hayes selection comes into play.
First, let’s address the weaknesses. Hayes is inconsistent from the 3-point range, and he doesn’t have a quick first step. He also tends to rely on his left hand a lot. Still, there are so many reasons why this was an excellent pick.
Killian Hayes has the build of an NBA point guard.
He has a great frame, which will help him at the pro level. Additionally, he is a shot-creator, fantastic ball-handler, and creative playmaker. And one exciting thing about Hayes is he has a knack for shaking defenders and getting to the rim, even with a slow first step. Under the coaching of Dwane Casey and the mentorship of Derrick Rose, Hayes has a promising outlook. Another big plus is Hayes is aggressive. And if anyone knows anything about the Detroit Pistons, fans of the team love aggressive players.
What about Isaiah Stewart?
Troy Weaver acquiring two more first-round picks in Wednesday’s draft was a shocker. There was no indication that was a possibility. However, once they received them, the selections of Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey were surprising for different reasons.
Drafting Stewart with the 16th pick was surprising because Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey was still on the board. With the Pistons trading Bruce Brown to the Brooklyn Nets, Maxey would’ve made a great pick to pair with Hayes. With Hayes and Maxey, the Detroit Pistons could’ve had their backcourt for the future.
However, Stewart isn’t a bad pickup. Last season, he averaged 17 points and 8.8 rebounds. There is no word on whether the Pistons will re-sign center Christian Wood, but Stewart can be a contributor regardless of what they do. He has a high motor, aggressive on the glass, and can finish near the rim. Stewart, in my opinion, has the opportunity to be the hard-worker Detroiters will grow to love.
Then there’s the Saddiq Bey selection, who may be the steal of the draft.
On the Woodward Sports mock draft, the projection was Bey going to the Sacramento Kings with the 12th pick.
Well, that didn’t happen.
Instead, Bey began to slip, and that’s when Troy Weaver made another move, acquiring the 19th pick in a three-way trade with the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers. In that trade, the Pistons sent Luke Kennard to the Clippers, the Nets got Landry Shamet from L.A., and the Pistons turned that 19th pick into Bey.
Over time, Pistons fans will grow to appreciate that move.
Many draft experts tout Bey as the best small forward in the draft. He shot 45.1% from beyond the arc, something the Pistons will need with Kennard’s departure. At Villanova last season, he averaged 16.1 points on 47% shooting. Along with being a great “3 and D” player, he’s a player that is all hustle.
That was not Luke Kennard.
Whether the Detroit Pistons draft picks will turn into great players or not remains to be seen. Regardless of how it pans out, the team lacked an identity since the “Goin’ To Work” Pistons team. Troy Weaver’s aggressiveness during the draft was the first step in restoring it.