2020 NBA Draft: Pistons should trade down and the Celtics make perfect trade partners

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

Luck wasn’t with the Detroit Pistons on lottery night last week. As Laz said on his Pistons Vs Everybody podcast, that’s OK.

The top pick in this year’s draft isn’t especially valuable. The top three prospects, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and LaMelo Ball, all aren’t particularly great prospects. Sure, one or all of them may wind up hitting. But if they do, it will be because they landed in the right situation. They’ll look much different in Golden State or even Minnesota than Detroit or Charlotte.

Besides, the top pick will earn a deal around four years and $44 million. If we were operating on the open market, would you be excited to pay any of these dudes a contract like that?

No, it’s just as well that Detroit fell rather than rose in the lottery. Sure, pick Nos. 5 or 6 would have been preferred as it gives new general manager Troy Weaver a greater likelihood to get his guy. But falling to seven opens up another possibility: trading down.

There’s always plenty of talk about trading up or down in a draft even though it rarely actually happens. But at seven, the Pistons are well positioned to do just that.

One route for that is aiming for an additional 2021 draft pick. But given the uncertainty of the upcoming season along with the stronger draft class next year, two sides being able to finalize a deal could be tough to accomplish.

Boston, however, could be a perfect trade partner. They have three first round picks in the 2020 NBA Draft — 14, 26, and 30. If a team was trading down from the fifth pick that’d likely be too small of a return. But from seven, it could be just about the right value for both sides.

As I’ve said before, this isn’t a bad draft. But it isn’t strong at the top. There are plenty of guys who could emerge from this one as solid starters or excellent rotation players. In five years, I’ll gamble that the overall win shares of 10-15 combined is better than 1-5.

There would be some risk involved. There are some really nice players projected to go between pick seven and 14. The team’s favorites could be off the board by the time their turn comes around. But certainly, someone will slip who is worth their liking.

Of course, the logic of trading down relies on the 26 and 30 picks having value as well. In this draft, they do. One of my favorite players in the draft should still be around at that point, Paul Reed. He’s a tremendous defensive prospect, averaging 2.6 blocks, 1.9 steals, and 10.7 rebounds last year, while also serving as his team’s second leading scorer.

The point guard position should be quite strong as well. Perhaps top tier prospects Cole Anthony or Kira Lewis Jr. fall to that spot. Even if they don’t tumble down the board, there are still plenty of others to like. Tyrell Terry is an electric shooter, Tre Jones and Cassius Winston are experienced guys who would be ready to contribute quickly, Malachi Flynn is a terrific defender, and Grant Riller is a solid offensive prospect.

There could also be some nice value picks at big man between Isaiah Stewart and Vernon Carey. Stewart averaged 17/9 and Carey 18/9 (in less than 25 minutes per game), numbers that meant lottery slots for 19 year old freshman in past years.

I’m also a fan of the Pac 12 DPOY Tyler Bey, who posted 1.5 steals, 1.2 blocks, and 9 rebounds per game and won the award over Onyeka Okongwu. Leandro Bolmaro might actually be the best international prospect in this class. Cassius Stanley likes slam dunk shots. Jordan Nwora and Desmond Bane look like NBA players.

Even picking first in this year’s class, you’re not getting a blue chip prospect. But at seven, the Pistons are in position to get a solid one. But if they feel like they could get three solid prospects at 14, 26, and 30, well, that makes plenty of sense.

The contract situation for both teams adds to the fit. The Boston Celtics have 14 players potentially under contract, 12 if they move on from Semi Ojeleye and Javonte Green - which seems unlikely.

They don’t need three first round draft picks. They don’t want three first round draft picks.

Meanwhile the Pistons only have nine players under contract, eight if they decline their option on Khyri Thomas, which seems likely. They have the roster flexibility where three first round picks would be welcome.

There are also openings in the rotation at both big man spots and injury concerns for starters at point guard, shooting guard, and power forward. That makes it a great time for scratching lottery tickets.

Plus it’d give the team a clear direction moving forward. They’re going young. They’re rebuilding, finally.

Along with all of their cap space for the summer, Tony Snell has a great contract for sin eating, with a $12 million expiring contract. And that ability will play to even greater value as the league’s owners start seeing their profit and loss statements come in over the next strange season. Of course, Derrick Rose has even more value in that front, but we’ll see - the franchise seems to legitimately be infatuated with him.

It’d have all the makings of a real life rebuild. And it’d fit the reason why the Pistons brought in Troy Weaver in the first place: because they trust his ability to find diamonds in the rough. At pick number seven, he’s still scratching on a lottery ticket. Three lottery tickets have a better chance of being a winner than just one.


Love it

nice job finding the perfect match. Couldn’t agree more that the Celtics would benefit. Feels like Pistons might need to part with a future 2nd simply because of the depth of this class, without an obvious peak.

I definitely think this idea has potential

Ideally it would work with the Pistons taking a player both they and the Celtics like at 7, then getting to 14 and the Pistons still being OK with the trade.

If they had to do it in advance, not knowing who might be available at 7 and 14 . . . then I am not sure the Pistons would (or should, for that matter).

If it happens, it's a draft day decision

And us feeling just as good about the guy at 14 as we do the guy we pick at 7 would be the key. Then 26 is a bonus.

But you don’t trade 7 if you think he’s clearly better than 14.

I agree. You do not trade 7 if you think he’s clearly better than 14.

And I think that is likely the case.

Well, I'm willing to keep an open mind on it

A tier that says picks 7-14 are essentially interchangeable isn’t the norm.

I’m also wary of trading with Boston, since they seem to fleece other teams regularly.

I have an open mind. But not to gamble.

Weaver needs a good player in this draft. If you trade down to 14 and Weaver is in love with Cole Anthony, Kira Lewis, Pat Williams, Nesmith, or even a Jalen Smith who seems to be a rising prospect. Reminds me of John Collins. I get it. If Killian Hayes or Vassell or whoever is on a higher level on Weavers board is there at 7, you take him. And I think someone will be. I would rather stay away from guys like Paul Reed or 100 pound poku who have significant bust potential.

Well, a trade could be conditional on who is available at 14 and 26

But I’d rather get 1 guy with star potential than 2 role players. If we end up with a guy at 14, we have to think he’s got Sekou like potential and deserves to be picked earlier.


And there might be a Sekou-type available at 14. I just wouldn’t assume it in advance.

I wouldn’t be upset

If they traded out of this draft all together, to net a FRP in either of the next two drafts.

They could spend the year developing Sekou and maybe Wood, while losing a ton of games.

I think it will be difficult to trade for 2021 picks

2022 might be more feasible, depending upon protections, except

we still don’t know if the double draft will be 2022 or 2023; perhaps it is more likely to happen sooner, what with the NCAA collapsing upon itself, right?

If Killian's gone, sure

I have had many a conversation with Alex Kungu about how the Celtics literally don’t want or need all those kids on their Eastern Conference Finals contending team.

I will say that I’m less sure about the guys we should take at 27 and 30 simply because I haven’t done a lot of work on that segment of prospects. That’s down in "guys I like" territory lol.

14 is securely "Grab TOO YOKED and don't look back" territory, tho

Too Yoked?

Who is this?

FSU's Patrick Williams

Pictured above

Look at those quads!


his expression reminds me of Kendrix Perkins.

If Poku and Too Yoked are gone I would be less excited about this

I would however also have a lot of suggestions for those later picks

Leandro Bolmaro
Desmond Bane
Isaiah Joe
Grant Riller
Cole Anthony
Paul Reed
Aaron Nesmith
Tre Jones
Theo Maledon (cheaper French Connection!)
Saddiq Bey
Xavier Tillman
RJ Hampton
Jaden McDaniels
Josh Green
Tyler Bey
Precious Achiuwa
Jalen Smith
Malachi Flynn
Tyrell Terry

Sorry Laz I forgot Mason Jones

Mason Jones

Still planning on Jones going undrafted and staging a one-man campaign to get him in Detroit

In that case...we've probably already said too much


Yeah, 14 is a little low for comfort if you have 1 or 2 specific guys in mind who might go in the lottery range

Just based on mock drafts and such, there are maybe 9ish guys who are not Poku or Williams that seem particularly likely to go top 13. But not 13!

But then there is another plausible world in which this trade could get us BOTH of Poku and Williams, or some other exciting combination. In fact, I wonder if another mid-first team might trade down to #26 and #30, if we wanted to trade back up . . . .

Now we're talking

I have already stated that if Weaver comes out of this draft with Poku AND Pat I will declare him a genius.

And to continue repeating myself: Luke to the Pellies for the #13 pick, just so that all of the Dukies will be on the same team.

So, Luke + 7 for 13 + 14 + 26 + 30?

No, No and No. Did you read

Why would put Kennard in the trade to get a lower tier draft pick. Kennard would be at the top of this draft. The kid avg 16 5 and 4 last year shoots 40% from 3pt. Which one of these players at 14 is going to replace that production this year?

He also might have the knees of a retired carpet installer

And, I don’t want his production replaced this year.


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