While we don’t know how the Detroit Pistons’ luck will play out in the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, the team has one known draft asset in their back pocket. Thanks to a league-worst 17-65 record, the Pistons hold the top selection in the second round of the upcoming draft, no. 31 overall.
Where Detroit ends up in the first round will likely have an impact on their second-round strategy. However, Troy Weaver will have a bevy of prospects to choose from as he leads off after all first round selections are made.
Of course, the first round of the draft can go in every which way. Plus, we don’t know who will rise and fall on team-specific big boards prior to draft night.
Many prospects who are currently graded in the 20-40 range will likely make their way to Detroit for a pre-draft workout, hoping to prove that they can contribute to Weaver’s vision. Here, I take a look at three players in that range who the Pistons could target, should they be available as Detroit makes their pick at the top of the second round (barring any craftiness from Trader Troy, of course).
Bilal Coulibaly, Wing, Metropolitans 92
A prospect coming out of France’s Metropolitans 92 that isn’t named Victor Wembanyama, Bilal Coulibaly is a long wing defender who has shown efficiency on the offensive end while playing overseas.
Coulibaly will still be 18 years old on draft night, making him a bit of a project with a higher ceiling compared to some of his older draft classmates. He has shown immense athleticism while playing professionally overseas, with the ability to effectively attack the rim from the wing.
As a younger prospect, there are moments where he can look a bit lost on the floor, which is then balanced by flashes of NBA-level playmaking. The streakiness will likely dwindle over time as he gets used to the highest level.
On the defensive end of the floor, he’s able to force turnovers thanks to hand speed and inherent athleticism, allowing him to deflect errant passes or poke the ball away as the opposing ball-handler looks to make a read. This leads to quick chances in transition, where Coulibaly is able to take advantage.
He has the frame and IQ to be an effective two-way wing in the league, which every team needs to compete.
There is a chance that Coulibaly continues to rise draft boards as we inch closer to draft night. He may not be available once the Pistons are on the clock for their second selection—but, if he is, he would fit into the organization’s long-term vision seamlessly. Plus, if Detroit gets some lottery luck, they could become the Metropolitans 92 of the west, reuniting two of the most exciting overseas prospects in this year’s class.
Coulibaly may very well turn out to be the darling of the draft. Detroit provides a situation where he can fulfill his potential.
Marcus Sasser, PG, Houston
A four-year player at Houston, Marcus Sasser is coming into the draft ready to impact an NBA roster as a back-up guard on day one.
An area that the Pistons can target either through the draft or elsewhere this offseason is the rotational guard spot. Sasser has the ability to fill that role on a rookie deal.
As a senior at Houston, he shot at a 38.4% clip from three, as well as 43.8% overall from the floor. He has a quick release and can also impact the game off of drives with a solid floater game. While handling the ball, Sasser can make plays but has struggled to create for himself off the dribble in college. I expect that to be a focus area for growth at the NBA level, as he will likely be expected to play with the ball in his hands within a team’s bench unit.
Defensively, he’s got that dog in him. Sasser has shown an ability to stick with his man and fight through screens in pick-and-roll action, which will be crucial to continue in the NBA as a small guard. The effort is there as an off-ball defender as well. He has a high-IQ defensively, which leads to stepping into passing lanes and creating transition offense for his team.
Sasser has a late-first to early-second round grade currently. A team who is picking towards the back of the first round could prioritize him as someone that could come in and make an impact to a contending roster immediately. His size and draft age are the two main concerns as a prospect. If those lead to his name slipping on draft night, Sasser can fit well coming off Detroit’s bench.
Noah Clowney, Forward, Alabama
A freshman coming out of a high-powered Crimson Tide team, Noah Clowney is a versatile forward who influences the game on both ends. Like Coulibaly, Clowney will be 18-years-old on draft night, making him more of a long-term play wherever he lands.
At Alabama, his promise as a true NBA prospect may have been overshadowed by likely top-three pick Brandon Miller. But, Clowney was able to show some tools throughout his freshman season that indicate upside for a long career in the league.
He’s a decent shooter that’s more effective close to the rim. His 3-point shot will develop over time, which will lend to Clowney being an effective floor spacer at the next level with his 6-foot-10 frame. Likely, he won’t be the type of player that you bring in to light it up on the offensive end. With some time, Clowney can increase his scoring efficiency to be a third or fourth option in an NBA lineup.
Clowney is a great rebounder who will bring consistent hustle to any team’s defense. Currently, he’s long and wiry, so he will look to add some size and strength to make a greater impact at the next level.
Of these three prospects, I think that Clowney is the most likely name to still be on the board at 31. He would bring the Pistons a dynamic forward to play alongside their multitude of bigs, as Clowney will likely need to play alongside a more traditional center, even at 6’10. His size will impact the glass. As a floor spacer, he will be able to track down long rebounds over smaller players, leading to second chance or quick transition opportunities in Detroit.