Pistons mailbag: Who should Detroit take if it gets the No. 2 pick?

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Is there a world where the Pistons get the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft and pass on Cade Cunningham?

I know, I know. There’s a massive contingent of fans who say dismissively that the Pistons would never get the No. 1 pick anyway — but for kicks and giggles, let’s just play a hypothetical game.

Would the Pistons trade down a spot or two and take another top prospect such as Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley or Jalen Green if another team offered a couple of future first-round picks or a young player that the Pistons really like?

Jalen Green is one of the top prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Remember in the 2018 draft when the Atlanta Hawks had the No. 3 pick and drafted Luka Doncic but traded with the Dallas Mavericks and got a top-five protected pick in the 2019 draft, simply for moving down two picks.

The 2019 pick turned out to be No. 10 and the Hawks took Cam Reddish. That didn’t quite work out the way they wanted.

At the mere mention of this, most people would hang up the phone — and Pistons general manager Troy Weaver probably would too. If Cunningham, the popular choice at No. 1 for most experts, is there, almost anyone would take him. It’s a no-brainer. Multi-faceted, 6-foot-8 perimeter players who can handle the ball, score and defend are a hot commodity in the draft, and Cunningham looks to be the closest thing to a franchise player in this draft.

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But let’s say that the Pistons want another chance at Emoni Bates or any of the other future stars in coming years. With a trade, they could have more draft picks to put in the stockpile and position themselves to add more pieces in the coming years for not only Weaver’s restoring, but a restocking as well.

It doesn’t seem like that’s the way that Weaver would go, as he seems to have a specific timeline in mind for the rebuild. Getting first-round picks two or three years down the road may not fit his path forward, but it could be an option to consider.

What if the Pistons got the No. 2 pick? Would they trade down a pick or two? That’s even more interesting because after Cunningham, many experts view the next group of prospects as being more in the same tier.

It might not happen, but if the Pistons get in the top three, it might be something to consider.

This week’s Mail Satchel looks at the young players and their production moving forward:

Question: If the Pistons get the second pick and Cunningham is gone, who would be the best fit out of Green, Mobley, and Suggs? — @BoobHero

Answer: I don’t think there’s a bad pick among the other choices after Cunningham. The Pistons seem to have plenty of options at the wing positions, with Hamidou Diallo, Josh Jackson and Saddiq Bey. That wouldn’t preclude them from taking Jalen Green or Jonathan Kuminga, nor would having Killian Hayes prevent them from taking Suggs.

It’s not about being locked in at point guard, but as coach Dwane Casey has said multiple times, he prefers having multiple ball-handlers on the court at the same time. Suggs played really well in the NCAA Tournament, so there’s nothing to suggest they wouldn’t take a long look at him.

Mobley would be an interesting addition. That likely would involve moving Isaiah Stewart to power forward — and there’s been some evidence such a transition is more possible than it looked to be a couple weeks ago. Given that, a trade to add more assets and still getting an impact player seems to be a good strategy.

Q. What has been the biggest change on the court that could have helped facilitate Killian just looking a lot more confident and in control of his game? Losing Blake? — @analyticball

A. It’s just time. He played seven games at the start of the season before his injury. While he was out, he got to watch games up close, observe and learn. That’s paying off now, because Hayes is looking a lot more comfortable — and although the eye-popping numbers aren’t there yet, Hayes is passing the eye test with his defense and his passing.

He probably would be more effective with Blake Griffin and more veteran players around him. Hayes just isn’t pressing right now and looks to be letting things come to him, which is the biggest difference.

Q. It seems every young guy Weaver has been picking up or drafted has had multiple games where they have thrown up impressive numbers.  Should we put much stock in what the players are showing now or are we seeing some flash in a pan stuff & not to be totally trusted? — @Scosto6

A. There’s something to take away from some of the big games, but don’t get overexcited about anything you’re seeing right now. If there’s a Summer League, there will be even more, but just getting the young players clicking and learning how to win and overcome deficits is proving so valuable right now.

It’s not microwave popcorn, so just be patient and enjoy the ride. There will be plenty of losses, but there will be some improvements that will be fun to see.

Pistons at Trail Blazers

Tip-off: 10 p.m. Saturday, Moda Center, Portland, Ore.

TV/radio: BSD/97.1

Outlook: The Blazers (30-21) have lost three of their last four games since beating the Pistons by 23 on March 31. The Pistons (16-36) are on a mini-surge, winning four of their last seven games.


Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard