With the final quarter of the season in limbo, the Pistons are in position to get a top-five pick in the NBA Draft.
And the way things were going, the pick could be better than that.
When the NBA Draft is going to happen is anyone’s guess. For now, the NBA is sticking with the original June 25 date. The league suspended the remainder of the season on March 11 after Utah's Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive for COVID-19.
What happens next remains up in the air. The NBA could finish the remaining games in the regular season, which could push NBA Finals into August. The domino effect would be that next season would have to be delayed as well. Another option would be to end the regular season — all eight playoff teams in each conference are pretty clear — and go straight to the postseason.
The Pistons (20-46) have the fifth-worst record in the league and are a half-game from getting to one of the three worst records, which would guarantee them the best odds to get the first overall pick (14.1%) or a top-four selection (52.1%).
The Warriors, Cavaliers, Timberwolves and Hawks would have the top four picks if the season doesn’t finish.
Although the final order of the draft hasn’t been decided, many of the prospects already have declared for the draft because the NCAA canceled its men's tournament. More underclassmen will declare before the April 26 deadline, some with the option to gauge their draft outlook and return to college if they wish before the NCAA's early entrant withdrawal deadline on June 3.
Here’s a look at the first Big Board of prospects ahead of the NBA Draft.
Rod Beard's Big Board
1. Anthony Edwards, Georgia, SG, 6-foot-5, 225 pounds: At 18 years old, the freshman already has an NBA build. He averaged 19.1 points in a tough Southeastern Conference and showed all the parts of his game, including his driving ability, athleticism and explosiveness. He has 3-point range, though he only shot 29% this season, but hit seven 3-pointers in scoring 37 points against Michigan State.
2. LaMelo Ball, Australia, PG, 6-7, 190: Yes, he’s Lonzo Ball’s brother, but he’s projected to be the most talented of the Ball family. He has outstanding size for a point guard and his excellent ball-handling, court vision and rebounding have him at the top of many draft boards. His shooting (38% on field goals, 25% on 3s) and poor defense are concerning, but his overall talent make him a tantalizing prospect.
3. James Wiseman, Memphis, C, 7-1, 237: There are plenty of questions about Wiseman, who only played three games in college before the NCAA ruled him ineligible. With a 7-6 wingspan, he’s more of a traditional center, which could lower his draft position. His strength and athleticism around the rim are big assets, along with his protection.
4. Obi Toppin, Dayton, PF, 6-9, 220: Many of the top players are future prospects, but Toppin, 22, appears to be the best option to make an immediate impact. He’s a smart player on both ends of the court, has good size and build, and has the explosive athleticism to be a contributor as a rookie.
5. Onyeka Okongwu, Southern California, PF, 6-9, 245: He was dominant around the rim as a big man, with elite strength and finishing ability, but in the NBA, he could be undersized and overpowered. He will need to develop a perimeter game to become more effective but for what he does, he could be a very good rim-running big man and find a niche similar to Clint Capela.
6. Killian Hayes, Germany, PG, 6-5, 190: The French-born lefty combo guard has good court vision and feel for the game. He shot 48% from the field, but just 29% on 3-pointers, with roughly three attempts per game. Hayes works well in the pick-and-roll and can score from the mid-range or get to the rim. Turnovers are a concern.
7. Isaac Okoro, Auburn, SF, 6-6, 225: Okoro has the size and build to become a very good wing on both ends of the court. He finishes easily around the rim but may not project to be an elite scorer from the perimeter, shooting 29% from beyond the arc. There are some questions but the potential upside is there.
8. Deni Avdija, Israel, SF, 6-9, 215: He’s only 19, but he’s been playing with Maccabi Tel Aviv and has developed a versatile skill set, with good size for an NBA wing. He needs to add more to his offensive repertoire and get better from 3-point range (34%) and free throws (52%).
9. Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State, PG, 6-5, 175: A wrist injury shortened his season, but he showed with his wiry frame that he can be dominant with the ball. Haliburton, 20, is one of the best 3-point shooters (42% on 5.6 attempts per game) of the prospects at point guard, but he doesn’t create contact off the dribble and he will need to add strength to become more effective and durable.
10. Devin Vassell, Florida State, wing, 6-7, 194: Vassell could be the steal of the draft, with high-end skills as a defender and outside shooter (42% on 3.5 attempts from 3-point range per game last season). He’s not a volume scorer but he’s a smart player who can find a niche in the NBA.
11. R.J. Hampton, New Zealand, G, 6-5, 185: A talented combo guard, Hampton played for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL in Australia. His numbers aren’t eye-popping (8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists), but his size and explosiveness will make believers.
12. Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky, SG, 6-3, 198: He was one of the Wildcats’ best players this season, especially in their marquee games. Maxey is an effective scorer, but he’ll need to improve his numbers on field goals (43%) and 3-pointers (29%) to make a bigger impact in the NBA.
13. Cole Anthony, North Carolina, PG, 6-3, 184: Following an up-and-down season with the Tar Heels, including a disappointing finish, there’s optimism that Anthony’s game will improve when he’s surrounded by better talent. He’s a good scorer and shooter as a combo guard.
14. Theo Maledon, France, PG, 6-5, 174: Scouts will want to see more of Maledon but they like his size and frame. He plays smart and smooth and doesn’t make many mistakes, which will get him playing time if he continues to improve offensively.
15. Saddiq Bey, Villanova, SF, 6-8, 216: He was a bit under the radar, but excelled from 3-point range (45% on 5.6 attempts per game) and averaged 16.1 points for Villanova. At age 21, he’ll be more developed and mature than some other prospects.
16. Nico Mannion, Arizona, PG, 6-3, 180: Mannion was a good facilitator in the Wildcats’ topsy-turvy season, and he can find ways to score on the perimeter and going to the rim. He’s a good shooter but only hit 33% of his 3-pointers.
17. Precious Achiuwa, Memphis, PF, 6-9, 225: Wiseman’s exit from Memphis opened more opportunities for Achiuwa, who averaged 15.8 points and 10.8 rebounds in the aftermath. He has good defensive potential with his versatility and his game still is growing on offense.
18. Jaden McDaniels, Washington, SF, 6-10, 185: He’s just 19 but already has good size for his position and his versatile offensive game could make him a below-the-radar pick. McDaniels is inconsistent but has a fluid game that can work in the NBA if he adds strength.
19. Kira Lewis Jr., Alabama, PG, 6-3, 165: He improved his scoring average by five points from his freshman to sophomore season and shot 37% on 3-pointers. Lewis is a good distributor and shooter and can be a good pick for depth for a playoff team.
20. Aaron Nesmith, Vanderbilt, wing, 6-6, 213: Before a foot injury ended his season, Nesmith was shooting a ridiculous 52% on 8.2 3-point attempts per game. He has good size and scoring ability (23 points per game), but he’ll need to show more of his game.
21. Jalen Smith, Maryland, PF, 6-10, 225: In the second half of the season, Smith became one of Maryland’s most effective players and helped the Terrapins to a share of the Big Ten title. If he can add more muscle and continue to stretch the floor, he could be a find.
22. Josh Green, Arizona, SG, 6-6, 206: While Green is a good outside shooter (36% on 2.8 3-point attempts per game), he’s not as effective inside the arc. He’s a good defender and takes care of the ball on offense.
23. Tre Jones, Duke, PG, 6-2, 185: Jones returned for his sophomore season and helped his stock, boosting his scoring average to 16.2 and showed he can hit an outside shot (36% on 3.7 3-point attempts). He showed good leadership and ability to facilitate.
24. Isaiah Stewart, Washington, wing, 6-9, 250: Just a freshman, he posted 17 points and 8.8 rebounds and showed with his strength that he can be an asset as a small-ball center or a force in the paint at power forward.
25. Patrick Williams, Florida State, wing, 6-8, 225: Williams was a bench spark plug with his good athleticism and defensive ability. With 9.2 points and four rebounds, he provided what the Seminoles needed.