The NBA Draft is just 12 days away. Or, put another way, only 252 days since the Detroit Pistons season ended. Soon, we will know how new general manager Troy Weaver will begin to rebuild a franchise desperate for a fresh start.
A new report from the Los Angeles Times, indicates Weaver might have already zeroed in on his draft target at No. 7.
In a mock draft, LA Times writer Dan Woike projects the Pistons to draft Florida State small forward Patrick Williams.
Some scouts and executives believe Williams has a promise to the Pistons if he’s still on the board here. Detroit must like Williams’ combination of measurables, potential and youth, an ideal complementary player to any rotation. He wasn’t that productive last season, but Williams’ athleticism and two-way potential is eye-catching.
The Williams selection was made with Onyeka Okongwu, Isaac Okoro and Killian Hayes still on the board.
I’m not so much interested in Woike’s mock drafting acumen as I am in a potential promise made by the Pistons to Williams.
On the one hand, this is a few spots higher than most people project Williams to go, even as he has slowly risen up the draft boards over the past several months. On the other hand, it’s obvious why Weaver and the Pistons like Williams’ game and his potential.
As we wrote about Williams a couple weeks ago, Williams’ skillset is the kind you need to compete on the game’s biggest stage — the NBA Finals. He can’t be played off the floor and has enough of offensive upside to ensure you’re not playing four-on-five on the offensive end. A multi-positional defender, Williams is also one of the youngest players in the draft (Sekou Doumbouya, who the Pistons drafted last year, was that draft’s youngest player). And, perhaps most importantly, he has the kind of offensive promise — if not yet the results — that make him more than the next Stanley Johnson.
Williams isn’t an offensive powerhouse, but he did knock down 83% of his free throws as a young forward in college. Since 2009, the only players Williams’ size or taller who were able to hit free-throws at that rate combined with a 5%+ block percentage and 2.5%+ steal percentage — Williams, Matisse Thybulle as a senior and Robert Covington as a senior, plus two random small-school players.
Williams also checks the boxes of work ethic, high character and love for the game that Weaver has professed is extremely important in evaluating young prospects.
Would a team in desperate need of point guards, initiators and playmakers really bypass all those guards on the board (Hayes, Kira Lewis, RJ Hampton, Cole Anthony) to draft a tough-nosed forward with a limited handle?
We’ll find out soon.