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DBB on 3: Big men in the 2020 NBA Draft

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The Pistons have had success drafting big men in the NBA Draft... but should they take one in 2020?

NCAA Basketball: Arizona at Southern California Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA offseason kicks into high gear with tonight’s NBA Draft, and then it really doesn’t slow down until the season begins 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 big men, but you can read our thoughts on point guards and wings here.

1. The Pistons’ best draft picks in the last decade are both big men — Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Does going big, during a time when the NBA is smaller than ever, make sense early in this rebuild?

Sean Corp: Going big only makes sense if your talent evaluators don’t see any wings or playmakers with two-way potential left on the board, because those are the prospects who really move the needle in the NBA. So, if you’re completely out on everyone but Onyeka Okongwu was available, I wouldn’t hate for the Pistons to pick the best player on their board. However, in thinking about Drummond and Monroe as their best selections, you only have to look back at who else was available both years. Detroit picked Monroe ahead of Gordon Hayward and Paul George in 2010. They picked Drummond ahead of .. well, actually the 2012 Draft was kind of a dumpster fire. But Drummond hitting at No. 9 and still having such an obvious ceiling on where he could take your franchise is a pretty big indictment of how far a big man can take you.

Lazarus Jackson: Where have the Pistons gotten with those best-in-decade big men? Not very far. I think there is something to zagging when the rest of the league is zigging, but I also think big men being less valuable than they’ve ever been makes it easier to find a capable big man. The ease with which you can find capable big men means you shouldn’t use such a valuable resource to obtain one. If the Pistons acquire another draft pick outside of the lottery, that’s a great place to select a big man.

Brady Fredericksen: I’ve gone back and forth on this. On one hand, no, don’t draft a big man to jump start your rebuild... on the other hand, maybe draft one? This draft, in all likelihood, isn’t going to yield a plethora of stars. So, if you can land a player who will help you now and later at any position, that’s not a BAD idea. Ask me again in an hour, my opinion will probably have changed.

David Fernandez: Detroit should hold off on targeting a big, unless James Wiseman magically falls to the seventh pick. The most successful teams in the league have either top-level point guards, wings, or both - and the Pistons haven’t successfully drafted at that position since the Goin’ To Work era.

Justin Lambregtse: I think it ultimately depends on who is available in the draft. A team should always favor bigger shot creating wings or guards over a big man. Now if it’s a big man that can shoot 3s and protect the rim, that is a different story. If you are team that already has the above, then you can look at drafting a big man. For a team like the Pistons in their current state, they shouldn’t consider one.

ScottFL: No, and it probably never will. Just find some older stronger bigs in free agency. There is a global surplus.

2. There is an interesting crop of big men in this year’s draft. Do you have a favorite fit for Detroit and who are your top five big men?

Sean Corp: I like Okongwu — I just can’t help it. I love what he brings on both ends of the floor and seems like an ideal third-best player on a championship-level team. But as we often say with the Pistons, it doesn’t make much sense to add the third-best player unless you have a way to find the two players above him. The Pistons will be bad this season so maybe that player comes next year. Maybe Sekou is that guy. But most likely not. So Detroit will be tied into a roster that doesn’t really fit perfectly, as has been the case for a decade. If you’re considering Poku a big, then I do like him as well for his ball-handling and playmaking to go with his size and perimeter stroke. He’s the kind of home run swing I would never mind taking. There’s just not many talents like him in existence — if any exist at all. Also really intrigued by the long-term potential of Precious Achiuwa who seems super mobile defensively and with the potential for a lot of untapped offensive upside. Wiseman I don’t have any confidence in projecting because of limited action on the floor, but I’d be terrified to build my team around him.

Lazarus Jackson: Onyeka Okongwu, James Wiseman, Xavier Tillman, Jalen Smith, and Zeke Nnaji are the guys I like in this year’s draft — with apologies to Precious Achiuwa, whom I’m sure I would like but I never really dove deep on. Of those guys, I think the best fit is either Nnaji or Tillman, who are at opposite ends of the “potential vs. production” spectrum, but should intrigue the Pistons.

Brady Fredericksen: The only one I like at No. 7 is Okongwu because I just don’t see a situation where he fails. However, he’s one of those players who’ll just be a nice young piece on a team like Detroit whereas he can be a difference-making rookie on a contender like the Celtics. My top five bigs: 1. Okongwu, 2. Wiseman, 3. Tillman, 4. Nnaji, 5. Vernon Carey Jr.

David Fernandez: Favorite fit would certainly be James Wiseman. He’s a true blue center who should be able to affect the game in a positive way, on both ends of the floor, by his sophomore season. My top five: 1. James Wiseman, 2. Obi Toppin, 3. Onyeka Okungwu, 4. Precious Achiuwa, 5. Jalen Smith.

Justin Lambregtse: I am personally a big fan of James Wiseman, but as I stated above I don’t want the Pistons to take one. If Wiseman somehow fell to 7, I wouldn’t be mad if they took him, but I don’t see that happening. Outside of Wiseman and Okongwu, I honestly couldn’t give you a ranking of bigs because the rest are uninspiring to me.

ScottFL: If you forced me to waste a pick on a big man, like if the Pistons traded for the #22 pick or something, I would probably say Precious, because he might provide the futuristically switchy defense that we expect from Okongwu, without using (wasting) such a high pick. But again, to be clear, just don’t draft centers. Top 5: 1. Okongwu, 2. Wiseman, 3. Tillman, 4. Precious, 5. Nnaji.

3. We’ve discussed the guards, wings, and now big men. We’ve spent months waiting for the draft. Who, regardless of position, do you want the Pistons to select At No. 7?

Sean Corp: Despite what I said in a previous DBB on 3, I think I’ve come around most on LaMelo Ball. His elite skill is so useful and impactful, I wouldn’t be mad if the franchise gambled on him as a centerpiece for the next decade. It’d be a bold risk worth taking. After Ball, I like Killian Hayes as a point guard with less raw upside but a much higher floor. He is also someone I think could be a lead guard of a very good team, and he could be good on both sides of the floor — which is more rare than people realize. Next, I have Okongwu and Patrick Williams, players it seems the Pistons think highly so I would not be surprised if they are the pick. But this is really a hard draft to get a feel for.

Lazarus Jackson: Nothing I have seen or heard about any of the prospects over the course of the offseason has dissuaded me that Killian Hayes should be the choice of the Detroit Pistons. This Is The Way.

Brady Fredericksen: Right now, I’m honed in on LaMelo Ball, Killian Hayes, and Patrick Williams. Ball would obviously need to take quite a tumble, or a big trade up, but I’m sold on his talent. I know there are reports of a promise to Williams, but with the Pistons’ recent moves — trading Bruce Brown and non-tendering Jordan Bone — I think they want a point guard at No. 7 tonight. That, to me, says Hayes, which would be a great outcome.

David Fernandez: If I had my pick of the litter, I’d shoot for the stars and draft LaMelo Ball. That scenario is highly unlikely since Detroit currently holds the seventh pick, and I don’t think they should be looking to deal away their 2021 first round pick to move up and nab him, but he fits that perfect mix of high upside and position of need.

Justin Lambregtse: I am all aboard the Patrick Williams hype train. I know a lot of people don’t like him at 7, but if there’s a player you like I am a firm believer in just drafting them. If there is a scenario to move back and pick up an extra pick or 2 and still get Williams, that is ideal, but I’m not all the concerned. I think Williams fits with Sekou long term and both players have the potential for a skill set you look for in a modern NBA wing.

ScottFL: Poku.

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

1. The Pistons’ best draft picks in the last decade are both big men — Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Does going big, during a time when the NBA is smaller than ever, make sense early in this rebuild?

2. There is an interesting crop of big men in this year’s draft. Do you have a favorite fit for Detroit and who are your top five big men?

3. We’ve discussed the guards, wings, and now big men. We’ve spent months waiting for the draft. Who, regardless of position, do you want the Pistons to select At No. 7?