The NBA draft is scheduled for June 25 and in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, there are a number of uncertainties about whether it will get pushed back.
When the season was suspended last month, the Pistons were 20-46, with 16 games left in the regular season. That put them in the fifth slot ahead of the draft lottery, in prime position to pick up an impact player in the draft.
According to ESPN, that player could be Southern California big man Onyeka Okongwu, who is projected to go to the Pistons with the No. 5 pick in its mock draft. Okongwu is a strong inside presence during his freshman season, averaging 16.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and an impressive 2.7 blocks.
“Okongwu gives Detroit a switchable, bouncy rim protector who finishes everything, with outstanding touch and plenty of offensive upside,” ESPN’s Mike Schmitz wrote. “He would boost Detroit's small-ball frontcourt of the future alongside Sekou Doumbouya.
“While Okongwu would be a big win for Detroit, I'd also strongly consider (Deni) Avdija here.”
The top of the mock draft has the Warriors selecting Anthony Edwards with the No. 1 pick, the Cavaliers taking James Wiseman second, the Hawks picking Isaac Okoro third and the Timberwolves going with LaMelo Ball fourth.
The Okongwu selection would be intriguing for the Pistons, as he’s a little undersized to play center, at 6-foot-9. They also traded Andre Drummond to the Cavs at the deadline for a future second-round pick and expiring contracts.
Schmitz likes the fit for either Okongwu or Avdija, though.
“(Avdija) would give Detroit an exciting young playmaker, even if he's more of a point forward than a true lead guard,” Schmitz wrote. “Avdija is comfortable functioning as a combo forward off the ball the way he did for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the EuroLeague, but I've always thought his true value will come with the ball in his hands like we've seen at the FIBA level.”