The NBA Lottery is over, the dust has settled and the Detroit Pistons will be selecting at the number 12 spot in the upcoming draft. It’s finally time to throw those Markelle Fultz or D’Aaron Fox dreams to the wind, it’s not going to happen. So sit back, embrace the nothing was given to us- Detroit vs. Everybody vibes and look forward to the crop of players that will be available towards the bottom of this year’s lottery.
In case you missed the first edition of this series, where we detailed the profiles of Zach Collins, Frank Ntilikina, Jarrett Allen and Terrance Ferguson, you can find that here. It’s only been a couple of weeks since that piece was published, but the mock drafts from some the nation’s most respected sports publications have changed dramatically.
The Player: Donovan Mitchell, combo guard, University of Louisville
The Publication: Draft Express
Donovan Mitchell’s draft stock significantly jumped since his impressive showing at the NBA Combine. The 6’3 combo guard boasted a standing vertical of 36.5 inches, and a max vert of 40.5 inches. Oh yeah, he’s also has a 6’10 wingspan. But just because you’re a high-flyer, with a strong frame, that does not mean you’ll transition seamlessly into the league.
Things to like: Mitchell is an extremely athletic guard who finishes strong when attacking the rack. As noted, he’s got bounce, crazy bounce, and it looks like he wants to rip the rim off when goes for a jam. His stroke looks clean, and he was a solid three point shooter in college, who averaged 35 percent from deep his sophomore year. He’s a tenacious defender who has above-average shot-blocking ability for a guard, and who averaged 2.1 steals per game.
Areas of improvement: Mitchell is a bit of a position-less player. At 6’3 (6’1 sans shoes) he’d be an undersized two-guard who may struggle when guarding opposing shooting-guards. He also lacks true point guard passing skills, only averaging 2.7 assists per game in his final NCAA season. One of his best skill-sets, viciously attacking the basket, might not easily translate to the league when encountered with the shot-blocking ability of NBA bigs.
The Player: Justin Jackson, small forward, University of North Carolina
Justin Jackson should be available for the Pistons at number 12, and there’s a lot to like about the former Tar Heel, who led his team to the top of college basketball, winning the NCAA Tournament. He was huge down the stretch in that championship game, converting on a big three point play to put UNC in the lead then dunking home a transition dagger to seal the game for his team. Jackson has showed steady progress throughout his three year college career, having improved in most major categories, the most gaudy being point production, having averaged 18.3 points per game in his final season.
Things to like: Jackson will enter the league with the size and length that should allow him to immediately play. He’s listed at 6’8, with a 6’11 wingspan, and boasted an impressive 35.5” max vertical at the NBA combine. He was able to utilize his length and ball-handling ability to find spots in/near the paint for clean looks. Jackson’s shot is not the prettiest thing to look at, but it goes in, to the tune of 37 percent from deep on seven attempts per game last season. If this three-point shooting translates automatically to the league (with his length it should), he may find a niche role on the Pistons next season. Lastly, there’s something to be said about performing well when the lights are brightest, and Jackson would certainly qualify as one of those guys, having played some of his best basketball during the NCAA Tournament, especially the Final Four and Championship game.
Areas of improvement: Defensively Jackson will struggle when he enters the league. He’s listed at 201 pounds; he’ll have to hit the gym and add muscle to his profile as to not continually get bullied by opposing small forwards. His overall defensive game needs improvement too. He only averaged .2 blocks per game, for a wing with his length, you’d hope that’d be a bit higher. He’s also not a shutdown defender on the wing. All of these areas can be improved, but improvement is needed.
The Player: Luke Kennard, shooting guard, Duke University
The Publication: CBS Sports
The Pistons need a lefty. Admit it, they need one. There does not need to be a reason but, Kennard could be that lefty. He averaged just under 20 points per game in his sophomore season at Duke [cringes]. His shoot-first mentality is welcome on a team that looks stagnant (at best) on the offensive side of the ball.
Things to like: Kennard has an ability to create space with the ball in his hands, not in the traditional shake your man kind of way, but he naturally finds pockets in the defense, and is able to get a off a clean look, off the dribble. What’s not to like about his three point shooting? 44 percent on 5.4 attempts per game last season. Yeah, the Pistons will take that. These abilities coupled together should make for a seamless transition to the next level. As noted by Ryan Pravato in his Luke Kennard-full profile-piece, the Dukie has an above-average ability to make plays for others. His passes are on the money, and he’s enough of a threat to score with the ball in his hands that teams can’t sit back on defense, sticking to their man, they’ll have to step up which may lead to an easy bucket for a teammate.
Areas of improvement: Kennard is an average athlete by NBA standards. He does not have an explosive first step, or an ability to cross his man in order to find his shot. He did not appear to be the quickest defender on the perimeter, so Detroit would have to hope that he’d be a net zero on defense at best. For a 20 point scorer, he only averaged 5.1 free-throw attempts per game last season. He does not aggressively attack the basket, probably due to his average athleticism, so Detroit would not expect Kennard to earn many cheap points from the charity stripe, and the Pistons need someone to be able to draw contact. All in all, Kennard would be a solid pick at number 12 and should be able to play immediately with that three point shot.
Coupled with the poll below, why would you like the Pistons to select the player you chose?
Which of these players would you like to see the Pistons select in the upcoming draft?
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