Beard: Pistons roll the dice on a wild night and payoff could be rewarding
In the frenzy of the first round, with trades seemingly happening everywhere, the Pistons waited patiently to see what would develop in the few picks before their No. 15 slot.
Cam Johnson went to the Suns with the 11th pick.
PJ Washington, Tyler Herro and Romeo Langford went in the next three picks.
The surprise player who still was available was forward Sekou Doumbouya, a projected top-10 talent. He was the youngest player in the draft, not turning 19 until December, but at 6-foot-9, has loads of potential.
Pistons senior advisor Ed Stefanski, who was running the draft operation, pounced on the opportunity to get a player they felt had a high upside — and whom they thought absolutely wouldn’t be available at No. 15.
They Pistons considered trading up for other talent but they’re happy with Doumbouya.
“(Teams) wanted too much. We can’t give up the future to move up,” Stefanski said. “I’m happy we didn’t; we sat where we were. A lot of times, the draft comes to you.”
From what Stefanski, along with coach Dwane Casey and director of player personnel Gregg Polinski, saw at Doumbouya’s pro day in Frisco, Texas, a few weeks ago, many other teams ahead of them in the draft would be interested.
And the Pistons thought one of them would select Doumbouya, who played professionally for Limoges CSP in France, before they had an opportunity.
Doumbouya leads the Pistons’ draft class that included another wing, Deividas Sirvydis, at No. 37 and guard Jordan Bone, who played at Tennessee.
Here are some quick impressions of the three picks:
►Sekou Doumbouya, forward, 6-9, 230, France: At 18 years old, he’s more of a project than an immediate-impact selection. Some scouts compare his upside to the Raptors’ Pascal Siakam, which is lofty, but that would bode well for investing in Doumbouya.
He can play either forward spot and his physical makeup and overall skill set looks to be the biggest appeal to the Pistons, who didn’t have a versatile, lanky wing taller than 6-foot-6 until they traded for Tony Snell on Wednesday.
Doumbouya might not be the big name that most fans anticipated getting with the No. 15 pick, but he has plenty of room to improve and become an asset.
“Two teams told me before the draft that they would be surprised Sekou Doumbouya would get out of the top 10,” ESPN front-office insider Bobby Marks posted on Twitter on Thursday night. “The early steal of the draft is Detroit with that pick.”
As much as workout videos can be skewed and deceptive, Doumbouya’s shows some intriguing ability.
Doumbouya shot 32 percent on 3-pointers in 24 games the France Pro A League last season, along with 6.9 points and 3.1 rebounds.
►Deividas Sirvydis, wing, 6-8, 190, Lithuania: Things got interesting for the Pistons in the second round, after the Pistons traded the No. 30 pick to the Cavaliers for four future second-round picks and a reported $5 million in cash. Some mock drafts had the Pistons keyed on Sirvydis, whom they would have liked to have gotten with their 45th pick.
That’s where the intrigue comes in. The Pistons packaged two of the picks from the Cavs, along with the 45th pick, to move up to 37, presumably because a team picking between 38 and 44 was planning to select Sirvydis.
What’s all the fuss about?
Sirvydis is a 6-8 left-handed wing who turned 19 only 10 days before the draft. He’s regarded as a very good shooter, hitting 41 percent (15-of-37) in just three games in the second-tier league in Lithuania and 33 percent in the top league.
Signs point to the Pistons either letting Sirvydis remain overseas to develop more or potentially bringing him to play in the G-League. If they put all that draft capital into Sirvydis, they seem to be high on his potential.
►Jordan Bone, guard, 6-3, 180, Tennessee: The Pistons traded a 2024 second-round pick to get depth at point guard, with Tennessee’s Jordan Bone at pick No. 57. It was something of a surprise, even at Bone’s draft party, when it appeared he would go undrafted.
Bone, 21, is one of the best all-around athletic talents in the draft and posted 13.5 points and led the Southeastern Conference with 5.8 assists as a junior with the Volunteers. Bone impressed at the combine with some athletic measurables: a vertical jump of 42.5 inches (second-highest at the combine), lane agility of 9.97 seconds (fastest) and shuttle run of 2.78 seconds (fastest).
He could be projected as an option at third point guard on the Pistons’ roster, likely on a two-way contract.