In his third draft as General Manager of the Detroit Pistons, Troy Weaver is at it again. His first two drafts produced three All-Rookie NBA selections in Cade Cunningham (First Team, 2021-22), Saddiq Bey (First Team, 2020-21) and Isaiah Stewart (Second Team, 2020-21). His 2022 selections may add to the growing collection of young talent in the Motor City.
The night started off with disappointment with fans of the Pistons as they finished with the third-worst record in the league yet fell to fifth in the draft. What made matters even worse was that this draft was widely regarded as having three studs at the top in Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith.
But thankfully for the Pistons, the player regarded as the best amongst the rest after the Big 3, Jaden Ivey, fell in their lap after the Sacramento Kings drafted Keegan Murray at fourth overall. Ivey had a stellar season at Purdue as he averaged 17.3 points per game, 4.9 rebounds per game, 3.1 assists per game and shot 36% from beyond the arc. He also helped lead the Boilermakers to the Sweet 16 in the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
I think this was a great value pick for Detroit and Weaver as just about every mock draft had Ivey going fourth overall and there were many reports swirling pre-draft that multiple teams were trying to trade up and acquire him because the Kings had their eyes set on Murray from the start. He should fit in well as the backcourt mate of Cade Cunningham, last year’s first overall pick and the biggest building block for the rebuild of the Pistons.
But just like his first draft in 2020, Weaver wasn’t done in the first round. Just yesterday, he traded Jerami Grant to the Portland Trail Blazers and acquired a 2025 first round pick, swapped second round picks with the Blazers in this year’s draft and freed up cap space nearing $44 million. He used that future first round pick to move back into the first round and got Jalen Duren from the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks in a three-team deal. They also acquired Kemba Walker, who is expected to be bought out later this summer.
Duren, a former five-star recruit and one of the highest ranked players in his class, was a defensive standout in his one season at Memphis. For the Tigers, he averaged 12 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. He also helped lead his team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He should contend to be the starting center for the Pistons, depending on what they do in free agency, and should be a reliable backup center and provide great defensive depth for Detroit at the least.
With the 36th pick acquired from Portland; Weaver went with a swing on potential and drafted Gabriele Procida from Italy. He’s 6’7″ and is known as a knockdown shooter. He’ll most likely be a stash pick and may not play in the NBA for a year or two.
Barring any more trades, the Pistons should be done in the 2022 draft and will be focusing on free agency in the coming weeks. Weaver will have plenty of cap space to work with and some rumored targets include center Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns (and the 2018 first overall pick) and Michigan State product Miles Bridges of the Charlotte Hornets, who was selected 12th in the same draft.
Overall, I would give this draft a B+ as I think there was still some value in the second round that Weaver may have left on the board. But overall, the offseason is off to a strong start and getting Ivey could possibly help land a free agent or two as the prospect of playing with potentially one of the most exciting young backcourts in the NBA will be enticing.
I think this draft sets up the Pistons well for the future and depending on the free agents they acquire could contend for the playoffs in this upcoming year.
Trust. In. Troy.