The first pick is a lock if you ask fans, and a mystery if you ask Troy Weaver. But let’s just say, for the sake of sanity, it’s wing Cade Cunningham, who already looks great in Motown. If that’s the case, then it seems wise for the franchise to load up with bigs in the second round. Motown has three second-round picks and, in this year’s draft, it can bring about important pieces for its basketball future also with them as the draft looks to be extremely deep. You can find very interesting playmakers and wings appearing to be available in the second round. And you can find a ton of very interesting big men appearing to be available there as well.
Since Detroit has an abundance of young guards and wings with tremendous upside, especially when it takes Cunningham with the no. 1 overall pick, I think it’d be a good idea for them to turn to some bigs, if they’d be obtainable, with one, two or all three of their 37th, 42nd and 52nd picks.
The Pistons seem to have drafted their center of the future in Isaiah Stewart last year. But other than him they only have savvy veteran, Mason Plumlee, whose timeline isn’t compatible with that of their young core, a restoration project still in need of restoration in Jahlil Okafor, and a young prospect, Tyler Cook, who can flourish within Dwane Casey’s offense but is never likely more than a fringe player.
So, as regards the future, Motor City has one sure thing on the five spot. Thus, they might be tempted to add to this pool when a conducive situation in this regard like this year’s draft presents itself.
So who I’d like most?
1. Isaiah Jackson
The local kid is an athletic, 6-foot-10, 206-pound big with reportedly 7-foot-5 wingspan and with the seeds of a functional jumper (38% of all his shots are midrangers and he was making 34.6% of them). So in our firsts comments about this year’s draft class, I thought of him as a potential second coming of Nic Claxton. This in itself means there is a lot to like. But then he showed some dribble plays. Therefore, now I see him as a one year older, but a little taller, around 10-pounds heavier and maybe longer prospect than Giannis Antetokounmpo, when the latter was entering his 2013 NBA draft; a prospect who already shows the flashes of all the abilities that constitute matured Antetokounmpo’s game, plus carries a promise of a better shooting.
And as much as this adds more intrigue to the Kentucky alum, I’m worrying he might not last till the second round. The kid already has got the invite to the Green Room last week. So now we’ll need a fall at least as spectacular as Deyonta Davis, but without also including the fall of his basketball career, to grab Jackson in the second round. Another way would be to combine some assets (like two or all of this year’s second round picks and maybe something more) to move back into the first round.
2. Sandro Mamukelashvili
The 22-year-old Pirate from Seton Hall, has the size of a classical big: 6-foot-10, 240-pound with more than a 7-foot wingspan. But he plays a modern big’s game. He can make off the dribble jumpers from deep, handle the ball in P&Rs and pass. Thus, he reminds some of 2018 era Blake Griffin. Like Griffin, the American-Georgian baller isn’t much of a rim protector. But he shows some potential to defend in space. These skills could work wonders within coach Casey’s system. Someone who can do all the stuff Mason Plumlee is doing but also brings that Griffin dimension, namely the capacity to initiate the offense from the power position and spread the floor, seems to be a perfect completion for current Pistons offense. A big body that can bang on the blocks, is long enough and can move its feet to be disruptive for both ball-handler and roller in P&Rs as well as do a solid job when switched to defend on perimeter, would lack only the rim protection feature to be a perfect completion for current Pistons defense.
3. JT Thor
Another prospect I initially thought of as a the next Claxton. He’s close to Jackson in measurements: minimally smaller at 6-foot-9¼, a few pounds lighter and shorter (7-foot-3¼ wingspan). As Jackson, he revealed the some new aspects (shooting and dribble play) to his game as the NCAA season progressed. His athleticism is more tuned though than that of Jackson and Antetokounmpo, so maybe he’s more like Pascal Siakam, as Scott observed, though entering the NBA while being four years younger and looking bigger. So, his added value might rather be in him turning into a big wing, who can play some small-ball five minutes, than a big with wing’s skills. Either way, he definitely carries a potential for one of the biggest upsides from players predicted to be still on board in the second round range.
4. E.J. Onu
The NAIA hooper has the best metrics of the whole pack: 6-foot-11, 231-pound with allegedly 7-foot-8½ wingspan. He’s all about blocks, dunks… and triples. But he’s also 22 years old. I’m a little concerned with his lateral movement. He shows some flashes of the ability to move his feet in the mold of Even Mobley. But often he looks very slow-footed. Nevertheless, a poor man’s Rudy Gobert with long gun seems to be one of the shrewdest ways to use your second-round pick.
I’m sure you have some other interesting ideas of the prospects of the bigs in particular and of what to do with Detroit’s three second round draft picks in the coming (it’s only one day away!) draft in general. Let them loose in the comments.