No, we don’t know officially what Troy Weaver will do with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. He’s got a sharp eye for developing talent, doesn’t subscribe to group think and is never afraid to be bold.
When Weaver said “my clip will be empty,” it wasn’t because he had just executed a flawless offseason. It was in response to people questioning a number of aggressive, and seemingly overly-aggressive offseason that saw Detroit’s restoration begin with trades of young players like Bruce Brown and Luke Kennard and the signing of veterans Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Josh Jackson.
But Weaver is also someone on the hunt for greatness. He knows great teams are built around great player, and with the No. 1 pick, he will be on the hunt for a great player.
It seems like I’m destined to write columns making this point over and over again, but I keep seeing fans, pundits and writers everywhere seemingly being too clever by half.
Seemingly, the pitch goes something like this:
“Everyone presupposes the Pistons will draft Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 overall pick. But the premise of my piece is ... what if they didn't?”
Which, look, it’s fair as far as it goes. There are other intriguing prospects in the NBA Draft. Cade Cunningham is the top prospect but he hasn’t lapped the field like a LeBron, a Zion or an Anthony Davis.
Following the season, when Weaver was asked about the chance to get a top pick in the draft and the potential to draft a franchise-changing talent, Weaver was his typical reserved self. “I don’t see any Shaq’s or LeBron’s in the draft, but it’s a pretty talented class.”
While Weaver won’t ever tip his hand, and he’s reportedly ready to closely examine five potential players for the top pick, what I’m sure he isn’t going to do is trade the chance to draft a superstar so that he could fall lower in the draft and draft a handful of really good players.
This is a superstar league, and offenses are built around talented two-way players who can get their own, put teammates in a position to succeed and defend in crunch time. That’s what Weaver is after. That is what everyone is after.
Much has been made about a trade Zach Lowe floated from someone he spoke with at the Chicago pre-draft camp of a James Wiseman, 7 and 14 from the Warriors for the No. 1 pick.
As Lowe said, the entire premise of a deal is contingent on how Weaver feels about Wieseman because 7 and 14 are too low to fall to ensure a good chance at a star player.
Same thing with OKC’s war chest of picks. You could draft a lot of really good players with those picks, but can you get that elusive superstar? Weaver has that chance with a pick in hand, and he isn’t going to let go of it for a few more lotto scratchers.
Weaver will be coming out of the 2021 NBA Draft with the player he thinks is the absolute best player in the draft. Does that mean he’s definitely drafting Cade Cunningham? No. Maybe after all the evaluations, he decides Jalen Green is the best player. Or maybe the versatile Evan Mobley. But whomever he identifies as that player will end up in a Pistons uniform. Probably at No. 1. But maybe he sees a scenario similar to the Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum draft and is in Boston’s shoes.
If Weaver can drop one, two spots and still get his guy, maybe it happens. But the odds of that are vanishingly small on top of the already tiny odds of Cade not vetting out as the preferred selection at No. 1.
But he’s not going to drop to five or six or seven to take a Johnathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes or a Keon Johnson.
This is Troy Weaver’s shot at greatness. This is his chance to add true greatness to the Detroit Pistons. To build a sustained winner in Motown for the next 10 years. He’s not going to play any games.
It might be fun to speculate and write about, but the truth is Troy is taking who he thinks is the draft’s best player. And it’s probably Cade Cunningham. And if he isn’t the pick it’s because Weaver decided he’s not the best player in the draft.