Yes, our Detroit Pistons got hit with the worst possible draft outcome they could have, dropping all the way to the fifth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Yes, there are perfectly fine prospects that can be selected at five.
But the Pistons’ best chance at an impact player now comes in a trade, not with a selection.
The Pistons, perhaps, do not want to RUSH their rebuild, but after averaging 20 wins a season for the last three years, they probably need to generate some real positive momentum around their “Restoration.”
Here are a few players the Pistons could look to obtain in a trade including the fifth overall pick:
Fresh off signing a 4-year, $90 million extension, Hunter averaged 15.4 points per game and finally crested the 65-game plateau for the Atlanta Hawks last year. With a new head of the front office, a new-ish head coach, replacements already on the roster in Saddiq Bey and AJ Griffin, and the Hawks needing to pay Dejounte Murray, I could easily envision Hunter’s name being mentioned in trade rumors this offseason.
Although he had a few very intriguing moments in Atlanta’s first-round loss to the Boston Celtics, Hunter has overall been slightly disappointed (and oft-injured) for the Hawks. But when healthy, his defensive tools and ability to hit shots make him a good fit for the Pistons, and that extension locks him in at a number that looks reasonable for a good starter (and will look even better after the new media deal bumps the cap up).
Kuminga, the 7th overall pick in 2021, was in the rotation for the Golden State Warriors during the regular season, averaging 12 points per game and shooting 45% from 3 in 23 minutes a night in the calendar year 2023. Then, during the Warriors’ playoff run, he couldn’t get off the bench for Steve Kerr, despite his size and athleticism looking sorely needed in their second-round matchup.
You hear not-so-low rumblings that Kuminga was unhappy with being out of the playoff rotation after playing relatively well during the regular season. With a financial avalanche approaching, would the Warriors want to kick the can down the road a little bit, flipping Kuminga for a slightly cheaper (and Happier With His Role) player at five overall?
Jabari Smith Jr.
Okay, sure, this one’s a reach.
The Houston Rockets are also hurting right now, going from the second-best odds at Wemby to the fourth overall pick. But could trading Smith Jr, who had a relatively disappointing season for a top-3 overall pick, enable them to get a little nuts and take both Amen and Ausar Thompson? Houston seems to really prioritize explosive athleticism and creativity, and the Thompsons have that in bunches. Would the Rockets have interest in developing both twins together, and would they be willing to part with Jabari to do it?
For his part, as an alleged stretch big with defensive chops, Jabari would fit in very well with what the Pistons are already doing; playing lineups with multiple big men and figuring things out from there. I personally like Jabari better than any prospect the Pistons could get at 5 in this year’s draft.
Who would you want the Pistons to trade the #5 overall pick for (semi-realistic)? I know you’re disappointed. I’m disappointed, too. But Troy Weaver can still turn this around ... if he trades for the right young guy.