Pistons' success offers draft flexibility

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Chicago — It’s funny how a year changes things.

Last season, the Pistons were mired in a six-year slump of missing the playoffs — and in the draft lottery, getting a top-10 pick, yet again.

Their fortunes turned this year, making the postseason for the first time since 2009, with a 44-38 record, which pushed them down the draft ladder to No. 18 this summer. While they made a two prudent picks in getting Stanley Johnson with the No. 8 overall selection and Darrun Hilliard in the second round, they’ll look to have the same luck with lower picks in this year's draft, on June 23.

They’re slotted at No. 49 in the second round and it’s unclear how they’ll play the first-round choice, as they already showed some of their hand with the voided deal with the Houston Rockets for Donatas Motiejunas near the trade deadline.

The Pistons still could trade the pick and look to bolster their roster with a rotation-ready veteran or just to avoid the guaranteed contract — or they could settle on a player that they think might be able to help them in the short term.

Valentine, Davis, LeVert out to solidify draft status

Coach Stan Van Gundy and general manager Jeff Bower, along with assistant GM Brian Wright are gathering notes and making some of their initial determinations this week at the NBA Draft combine, where they’ll get to have one-on-one interviews and see drills for some of the players who could be available with the 18th pick.

That could include Notre Dame guard Demetrius Jackson, or Gonzaga big man Domantas Sabonis — who is skipping the combine. Some mock drafts have the Pistons making those selections, looking to fill their most pressing roster needs, at backup point guard and power forward.

The measurements, drills, interviews and evaluations will continue today and Friday.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard