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DBB on 3: Wings in the 2020 NBA Draft

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You can never have enough quality wing players. Can the Pistons find another contributor in the draft?

NCAA Basketball: Louisiana State at Auburn Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA offseason kicks into high gear with the NBA Draft in just two days, and then it really doesn’t slow down until the season begins on Dec. 22. In that short timeframe, we will have 60 new drafted players, a handful of undrafted free agents with a shot at making a roster, with teams apparently still needing to stitch together G League rosters. Then free agency kicks off just two days later on Nov. 20 with training camps Dec. 1 and the new season beginning Dec. 22. Phew. Got all that?

Most important to the rebuilding/restocking/reloading Pistons is the NBA Draft where they will hope to add talent with the No. 7 overall pick and perhaps more if the team can swing a trade or two. The DBB staff got together for a discussion on this year’s wings. We’ll look at big men next, and you can read our thoughts on point guards here.

1. The Pistons, like the rest of the NBA, know the importance of skilled wing players who have that rare combination of perimeter scoring and size. Currently, the only players on the perimeter that fit the bill in that manner in Detroit are Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, and Svi Mykhailiuk. What do the Pistons most need out of a wing player at No. 7?

Laz Jackson: No love for Jersey City’s Louis King? For shame! Seriously though, what the Pistons need most out of a wing is size. No more Bruce Brown or Luke Kennard playing the 3 at 6’5 because the guards they are next to are shorter. No more Wayne Ellington starting at 3. Give me a guy who stands a legitimate 6’7 with a frame to match.

Sean Corp: The Pistons are still looking for that most elusive player — a guy that can play both sides of the ball on the wing. The Pistons swing back and forth between players who can handle one side of the ball or the other but never both satisfactorily. And this is especially true of players who can guard both forward positions as well as shooting guards. Even their best defenders on the perimeter have been pretty small. What is the last player you can remember who was both a capable offensive player and could also reliably guard small forwards? Even that relatively low bar has been hard to fill. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Arron Afflalo always struggled guarding bigger players. If you don’t count the cup of coffee Khris Middleton had in Detroit, that means you’re stretching all the way back to Carlos Delfino in 2003. That’s nuts. The Pistons need a wing with size and strength who is not also a black hole defensively. If he can do anything beyond catch-and-shoot then it’s a bonus.

Brady Fredericksen: The Pistons need a player who isn’t a one-trick pony. Stan Van Gundy loved drafting wing players who had an NBA skill... but lacked in other areas. Troy Weaver needs to find a player who can develop into a legitimate two-way player, a guy who can contribute reliably on offense and defense. In recent years, it’s been one or the other with the likes of Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard.

Justin Lambregtse: I think the Pistons need a wing that can handle the ball and defend. They have the shooting covered with Kennard and Svi, and Sekou could possibly become a ball handler/defender, but it doesn’t hurt to add another one.

2. If we look at “wing” players as off-ball guards and perimeter-oriented forwards, there are a number of intriguing guys that fit the bill in this draft. From the top with Anthony Edwards to the intriguing in Aleksej Pokuševski, who are your top four “wing” players in this year’s draft?

Laz Jackson: In no real order, Isaac Okoro, Patrick Williams, Deni Avdija, and Devin Vassell. I like elements of all of those guys’ games, and they all did things just a little bit differently at the previous level. I personally also consider Anthony Edwards a guard, though — I don’t see him guarding small forwards in the NBA.

Sean Corp: The four players I am most intrigued by are Patrick Williams, Isaac Okoro, Aleksej Pokusevski and Aaron Nesmith. I don’t say top four because I don’t feel like I ever looked deeply enough at Deni Avdija or Devin Vassell to really have a solid take on them. Williams is a guy I’m partially obsessed with this draft even as I am still hoping Killian Hayes falls to Detroit and the Pistons take him. He checks all the boxes and is so young and with that solid baseline at the charity stripe and with enough ball-handling skills that I think his offense will be more than passable. Poku’s ball-handling is just too much to pass up on if you’re in the middle of the first round. He could be special or he could be nothing, but definitely worth the risk. Nesmith is the best shooter in the draft, and unlike a player like, say, Austin Daye, he has the strength and size to not be a sieve on defense.

Brady Fredericksen: It’s cheating to include Anthony Edwards here, but I think he’s got the highest upside and, at 6-foot-5 with elite athleticism, he’s got the potential to be an off-ball flamethrower with All-Star type production. Outside of Edwards, I love, love, love Aaron Nesmith, who is just a better overall player than Kennard in every way sans ball handling/playmaking. Patrick Williams is super intriguing, albeit a ball of clay at this point, and Poku is interesting simply because we have no idea what he will be.

Justin Lambregtse: Mine would probably be Anthony Edwards, Patrick Williams, Isaac Okoro, and Saddiq Bey.

3. The latest draft buzz has the Pistons infatuated with Florida State forward Patrick Williams. How do you feel about him both as a prospect and fit on this team?

Laz Jackson: Patrick Williams is ... interesting. He definitely fits my size criteria from point 1. His athleticism is both obvious and needs to be coaxed out further — he needs an NBA staff to fill out those quads (so he’s more comfortable attacking off one foot) and shoulders (so guys bounce off of him, which they currently don’t). He has the fundamentals of a ballhandling package down — attacking closeouts, stringing out PNRs with retreat dribbles, getting downhill with one or two dribbles — but isn’t exactly a bucket-getter right now. He gets UP in the open court and for offensive rebounds, but again, those are situations where he can plant and leap off two feet. I don’t worry about the overlap with Sekou — if Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard (or Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, or Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) can coexist, it can work. The issue is getting one of Pat or Sekou to that All-NBA level, not worrying about what to do if one of them gets that good.

Right now, Pat isn’t my favorite draft choice, but he’s on the short list of guys I would be excited about getting on draft night.

Sean Corp: Great prospect and perfect fit for Detroit. He’s so versatile and talented defensively. He’s one of the youngest players in the Draft, which I always view as a huge plus. Seems switchable on both the perimeter and near the rim. The only thing that would prevent me from taking Patrick Williams in this draft is if there was a player on the board that could finally deliver the lead ball-handler, playmaker the Pistons have been desperately searching for in the past decade. So if Killian Hayes is on the board, you take him. As much as I like Williams, you can’t build your team around him, and the Pistons will need a guy eventually worth building a team around. If it doesn’t come this year then it better come next year.

Brady Fredericksen: Sometimes, the idea of something is better than the reality. Players look like they can be this or that, but all we base those prognostications on is hope — physical traits, flashes of good play. I think Williams has shown enough against good competition in the ACC that we aren’t just hoping he’ll be a good NBA player... but I’m not convinced he’s a game breaker. Maybe he’s Marvin Williams? That’d be pretty damn good, but it’s not a star. Williams would be a fine choice, and a good fit. I think we could see a fun frontcourt in 2023 with Pat, Sekou Doumbouya and Christian Wood out there.

Justin Lambregtse: I like Williams a lot, but there would be some overlap with Sekou Doumbouya. However, the Pistons are early enough into their rebuild and Sekou is early enough into his development that they shouldn’t worry about it too much. I think ultimately both players can settle into playing together if they both develop properly. You can never have too many big wings that can shoot and create a bit.

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That’s where we stand, but how do you feel about this year’s class of wings? Please let us know in the comments below and, as always, feel free to play along at home:

1. The Pistons, like the rest of the NBA, know the importance of skilled wing players who have that rare combination of perimeter scoring and size. Currently, the only players on the perimeter that fit the bill in that manner in Detroit are Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, and Svi Mykhailiuk. What do the Pistons most need out of a wing player at No. 7?

2. If we look at “wing” players as off-ball guards and perimeter-oriented forwards, there are a number of intriguing guys that fit the bill in this draft. From the top with Anthony Edwards to the intriguing in Aleksej Pokuševski, who are your top four “wing” players in this year’s draft?

3. The latest draft buzz has the Pistons infatuated with Florida State forward Patrick Williams. How do you feel about him both as a prospect and fit on this team?