The Detroit Pistons are closely evaluating all the top prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft hoping to find the perfect running mate alongside franchise cornerstone and No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham. The Pistons will pick fifth, but considering the team’s crop of young talent, financial flexibility and reported commitment to making improvements to the roster, this is likely the highest the team will pick in the foreseeable future.
There seems to be a clear top 3 in this draft, though each of those vaunted players has their own set of giant question marks. Can Holmgren’s body hold up in the NBA? Can Jabari Smith Jr. become a dynamic offensive player? Is Paolo Banchero good enough to truly excel in the NBA?
After those three, there are a ton of players fighting to be in that next tier of selected players and they have just as many doubters and questions about their game. Populated mostly by wings, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Shaedon Sharpe, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin and Dyson Daniels are trying to silence the skeptics and convince teams to make them their pick.
What if amid all that uncertainty Troy Weaver and the Pistons identify THE guy and he’s available after the first three picks are called? And what if Sacramento comes to you and says they are willing to part with the fourth pick if Detroit is willing to trade No. 5 and ... other assets?
Is this the draft — with so many question marks and so much uncertainty — where you pull the trigger? What player makes you says yes? And what players make you say hell no?
While a deal is unlikely, it’s not out of the question. There have been rumblings for a while now that the Sacramento Kings aren’t fully committed to keeping the No. 4 pick as they look to improve the team.
The NBA odds, courtesy of DraftKings, say the most likely scenarios are Smith Jr. going first (-190), Holmgren going second (-225) and Banchero going third (-500). That leaves Ivey, Murray and Sharpe seemingly fighting it out for the fourth pick.
In the latest mock draft from ESPN, Johnathan Givony writes that the Kings are willing to deal and that new head coach Mike Brown and the owner might prefer Keegan Murray.
The Kings aren’t Ivey’s preferred destination but have proved willing to take players without the benefit of workouts and medical information in the past, doing so as recently as a year ago when selecting Davion Mitchell. Many around the NBA feel that this pick is available for a team looking to swap picks and move up the draft for Ivey. Detroit, Indiana and Oklahoma City are among those that could potentially exchange an asset to help the Kings’ chances of contending for a playoff spot, with the likes of Jerami Grant, Myles Turner and Lu Dort a few potential options that rival teams point to. In the event that the Kings elect to hold on to this pick and prefer to avoid the drama associated with picking a player against his camp’s will, the candidacy of Keegan Murray might be gaining steam with head coach-to-be Mike Brown. Owner Vivek Ranadive is also said to be a proponent of selecting him.
If you’re Detroit and you have intel that says the Kings are willing to defer to scouts and pick Ivey but would prefer to trade down to No. 5 to grab Murray, would you try and reach a deal?
That, of course, depends on if you’re a Jaden Ivey believer. Plenty of smart evaluators love Ivey up to and including having him at or near the top of their overall board. But there are plenty of doubters and they all point to the same huge questions in his game — no mid-range game, iffy decision maker and questions on the reliability of his 3-point shot long term.
Nobody doubts the athleticism or the quick explosion, and he gets high marks for his work ethic. He certainly has qualities Detroit is desperate to add to their team. But is it worth giving up significant capital to move one spot?
The cost could be No. 5 and Jerami Grant. If you’re already a fan who is most interested in ensuring Grant moves on before he can sign an exorbitant extension with the Pistons that might be just fine by you. But remember, any deal for Grant now means he can’t be part of a separate deal later. That means if the Pistons were interested in one of the big sign-and-trade candidates (like Deandre Ayton), they no longer have Grant available to entice the Suns not to match an offer and also might not have the most competitive offer among teams looking to add Ayton via sign and trade.
OK, so maybe Ivey isn’t your guy. What if for some reason Chet actually falls all the way to No. 4? This would mean that one of the top three — Orlando, Oklahoma City or Houston — falls in love with Ivey and/or is really not sold on the long-term potential of Holmgren.
Again, there are teams that have Ivey near the top of their board so it’s not inconceivable. There are also teams that have Holmgren near the top. If Weaver is one of them (he is reportedly a big fan of the big man), then would he willing to aggressively trade up to grab Holmgren assuming the Kings have just as many doubts as the Thunder or Rockets?
How much would you be willing to give up to grab Holmgren? The fifth pick? And Grant? And something else? Or do you just let Sacramento do whatever they’re going to do, hope it’s something crazy and you get your guy at 5 without having to give up a single future asset?