Auburn Hills — With the Pistons’ deal for Blake Griffin in January, they got an early draft-day present, having traded their first-round pick to the Los Angeles Clippers.
That left almost no suspense on Thursday night, as they had to wait until the second round for their selection.
Then the flurry of action happened.
The Pistons had one pick (42nd overall) heading into the draft, but doubled their pleasure, making a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to get their 38th pick and ending up with guard Khyri Thomas from Creighton. The Pistons gave up two future second-round picks — the years are undetermined — for Thomas.
The Pistons then selected Miami’s Bruce Brown, a 6-foot-5 wing, with their own pick.
“You never know how the draft is going to go — and it didn't look like we were going to be able to move like we did,” said Pistons senior advisor Ed Stefanski, who is running the team’s front office. “At the end, people were making big asks, but as the night went on, it got better.”
With only Stanley Johnson at small forward on their current roster, the Pistons were looking at wing options in the draft, but got two after their wheeling and dealing.
Stefanski said the asking price was significant on Wednesday and before the draft on Thursday, but they were able to settle on an acceptable asking price. Now, they have a pair of wings who can start to develop in the Las Vegas Summer League and potentially making it to training camp in the fall.
“A lot of people had them going much higher. Time will tell in a couple years if we made a good move, but we’re very happy tonight. It’s a lot more than we thought we were going to get,” Stefanski said. “I didn’t think either one would be there, so we feel we were fortunate, but you only know down the road.”
The Pistons were looking for talented, athletic and high-character wings — and Stefanski sees two assets in Thomas and Brown. They’ll look to add more depth and even giving up two future second-round picks was a reasonable price to pay for a chance to get Thomas, who is 6-3, 210 pounds.
Thomas was a two-time defensive player of the year in the Big East and left after his junior year. He has a 6-10 wingspan and averaged 15.1 points and 4.4 rebounds and shot 41 percent on 3-pointers, but is better known for his defense.
“I don’t’ think it’s a bad thing (having a defensive reputation) but coming in, I know I can do a lot more than defend,” Thomas said Thursday night via conference call. “I’m a wing, but if I had to play point guard, I would be comfortable as well. I’m going to take advantage and do my best.
“(The trade) was surprising at first but stuff like this happens. It was in the back of my mind but surprising. The opportunity is good to me.”
Thomas says he needs to work on 3-pointers, but he shot a respectable 41 percent.
Brown is also known for his defensive abilities and versatility in a bigger frame.
“I’m a two-way guard and I’m very versatile,” Brown said via conference call. “I can play and guard (the three perimeter positions) and an energy guy who does a little bit of everything.”
Brown left Miami after his sophomore season and averaged 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4 assists last season, shooting 27 percent on 3-pointers. He suffered a season-ending injury in his left foot and only played in 19 games.
“I’m fully cleared and ready to go,” Brown declared Thursday. “I can’t wait (for summer league). I have to prove myself and show that I’m healthy and prove myself to the team.”
Brown is regarded for his rebounding at the guard position and for his ball-handling and passing. He also has versatility on both ends of the court and can defend multiple positions. He had two of only three triple-doubles in school history.
The Pistons have some optimism heading into summer league, which begins on July 6 in Las Vegas. They could add some other undrafted free agents to compete in the tournament, as well. They were looking to make deals earlier, but the price was too steep.
“You don’t want to give up assets but we feel where we are with the wing situation and getting young guys in here, we did a good job tonight,” Stefanski said. “The scouts and front office did a terrific job and identified the right players in my mind. We got fortunate on the phones tonight.”