The Detroit Pistons appear to be on a crash course for another top-5 pick in the NBA Draft. If the ping-pong balls fall the Pistons’ way, the team will be rewarded with a potentially generational talent in Victor Wembanyama. But what if the Pistons get the No. 2 overall pick?
Victor Wembanyama is one of the most intriguing, high-upside players to hit the NBA draft in a long time. He will be picked No. 1 overall regardless of the team that lands the top pick in the 2023 draft.
Behind Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson, the ultra-bouncy guard, is generally considered the second best player in the class and in a tier of his own.
Then, there’s the rest of the field, which typically is ranked something like this:
- Victor Wembanyama, F/C (everything)
- Scoot Henderson, G
- Brandon Miller, F
- Amen Thompson, G
- Nick Smith Jr., G
A cursory glance at the rankings illustrates something of a problem for the Pistons. Most of the consensus top-five players are guards. Guard isn’t exactly the biggest area of need for the Pistons, having selected three guards in the top 10 over the last three drafts.
But, does that really matter? Are, the Pistons really in a position to pass up the best talent on the board?
Philosophically, there are very few instances that I’d ever make the argument for passing on the best player on the board, regardless of team makeup. If two players at different positions are ranked back-to-back on a team’s board, and there’s not a significant tier break in perceived talent, then OK, “reach” for the player that fits better. Otherwise, take the best player.
If Henderson is the best player on the board with the highest upside, he should be the pick. Adding high-level talent is essential, especially for a team projected to finish bottom five for the fourth time in as many years.
As a prospect, Henderson is high-end. Currently playing for the G League Ignite, Henderson is averaging 19 PPG, 6.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and he’s doing so on splits of 45/25/75 from the field.
3-point shooting aside, there’s a lot to like about the soon to be 19-year-old’s game.
At 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, Henderson has good size for the position and can likely play either guard spot thanks to his elite athletic traits and well-rounded skills.
Unfortunately for the Pistons, his game (while not an exact replica) is reminiscent of Jaden Ivey’s so there’s a bit of redundancy in traits. Still, Henderson would likely fill in as a sixth man in the rotation right away. The Pistons could even play Ivey, Cade, and Henderson on the court together in spurts thanks to Cade’s size, though this isn’t the most ideal utilization of these players.
Long-term, It’s likely that if the Pistons drafted Henderson at least one of (and maybe even two of) Ivey, Cade, or Killian Hayes would be traded at a later point in time, similar to what we’ve seen with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in Cleveland.
It’s early, and there will be risers and fallers ahead of the 2023 NBA draft. If the Pistons don’t land the No. 1 pick there will be good options available, and Pistons GM Troy Weaver has a proven track record for evaluating talent. With the top of the 2023 draft fairly strong there are worse positions to be in.