The NBA season is over, but the NBA Draft is slightly more than one month away. The Detroit Pistons have a new man at the helm leading the draft process in GM Troy Weaver. Weaver has a storied career including a decade helping lead the Oklahoma City Thunder draft process. In that time, he earned a reputation as a shrewd talent evaluator, and the Thunder as an organization definitely emerged with a type of player they preferred.
I have been attempting to look at the NBA Draft through the lens of how Weaver would view the players, and attempting to figure out how much of the Thunder player profile — athletic, defensively versatile, iffy shooting — was a philosophy of Weavers or if it was more Sam Presti, the man at the top of the process in OKC.
Not being the most well-versed evaluator of college prospects myself, I’ve been waiting for some of the mock drafters in the NBA blogosphere to take a similar approach and, luckily, Sam Vecine at The Athletic has done just that.
His latest mock draft has many intriguing elements, but for Pistons fans there are two newish names not typically association with them thus far in the process — Isaac Okoro and Patrick Williams.
7. Detroit Pistons
Isaac Okoro | 6-6 wing | 19 years old, freshman | Auburn
New general manager Troy Weaver will undoubtedly want to leave his imprint on this team in his first draft. As a piece of the puzzle intricately involved with the Thunder’s scouting process over the last decade, Weaver is considered a really sharp basketball mind when it refers to the draft and player projection. The guys the Thunder have tended to value over that time are guys with great athletic traits, great frames, and terrific background reports of hard work.
Okoro fits those billings to a ‘T.’ He’s one of the best athletes in this class at combining explosive athleticism and powerful strength. Defensively, he’s terrific both on the ball and in help situations. He’s known as an incredibly hard worker and a good kid who has a professional demeanor. He struggles to shoot it, but the Thunder have always undervalued shooting woes, as well, thinking of them as fixable over time. Okoro makes a lot of sense given Weaver’s past. There is also a thought that they like a similar prospect here in Patrick Williams out of Florida State, and this pick starts Williams’ potential draft range.
Personally, after the Stanley Johnson experience and the general lack of offensive firepower for the past decade, I’m not nearly as forgiving of “shooting woes.” For that reason, I’m a bit iffy on Okoro overall, but I was extremely happy to see Williams associated with the Pistons.
Williams is by no means a lights out shooter, but he has a lot of the tools I like to see when I’m running through potential prospects — he’s the second youngest player in the draft class, he converts at better than 80% from the free-throw line so his shotmaking can seemingly be developed, he’s got great defensive versatility, a great steal rate and the kind of frame that makes it seem like he can develop greatly in the strength and athleticism department.
When you think about a Troy Weaver-type player, what kind of names come to mind in this draft class? Are there any others that interest you? Are there any you think are absolute stay aways?