At 16-60, the Detroit Pistons have the league’s worst record and a 14 percent chance to land the first overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery. They have a 52.1 percent chance to land a top-four pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
It’s likely that they would use the first pick on Metropolitans 92 power forward Victor Wembanyama if they should get it. Even though they have a talented frontcourt already, headlined by centers Jalen Duren and James Wiseman, Wembanyama is the type of prospect that’s just too good to pass up.
However, it gets dicey after that.
G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, projected to be the second overall pick, is talented. Nonetheless, after drafting guards in two consecutive years, the Pistons may not be too keen on adding him to their team. Especially with questions about his jump shooting, which isn’t great for a team with multiple franchise cornerstones that are below-average 3-point shooters.
Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller is a do-it-all player but was invisible during March Madness and has off-the-court questions that surround him. Is he the person that the team needs or that should be in Detroit?
The Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar, could wind up being the fourth and fifth picks in the draft thanks to their length, athleticism, and defense. However, as players that aren’t great shooters, adding them to the Pistons core isn’t just problematic because they’re both backcourt players. It’s also because there are questions about their outside shooting ability.
So, armed with the… first to fourth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select…
Nobody, as the Pistons have sent it to the Chicago Bulls on draft night in a package headlined by two-time All-Star Zach LaVine in the one trade that they much complete.
1 perfect trade Pistons must complete in 2023 offseason
Trading away what will likely be at least a top-four pick isn’t just a move the Pistons make because they can.
It’s not one that they make because it’s a blockbuster move that could energize both the Pistons franchise and the city as a whole if the right player or players are involved.
It’s a move that Detroit makes in light of the injury to 2021 first overall pick Cade Cunningham, by bringing in a veteran star at. A move that’s also about the Pistons’ need to ease the pressure off of both Cade and rookie guard Jaden Ivey, the fifth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
The first ripple effect of acquiring Lillard is that Cunningham, 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, will become the team’s starting small forward rather than point guard. This change is only nominal, as Cunninghams basketball IQ and passing ability are too good to keep him from being the primary decision-maker on the court.
Nonetheless, in this scenario, Ivey starts at point guard and continues to develop both his defensive potential and point guard abilities. LaVine starts at his usual shooting guard position, where his 3-point shooting and above-the-rim play will enhance the Pistons’ offense in ways that the top prospects in the draft may not be able to.
However, LaVine has shot 38.5 percent from 3-point range for his career and 39.0 percent from 3 since the 2018-19 season.
This is a world away from Cunningham, who has shot 30.9 percent from three in his young career despite shooting 40.0 percent in college.
Playing off-ball would theoretically help Cunningham, as he shot 33.3 percent from deep on catch-and-shoot opportunities this season. However, Cade’s shot looks much better when he’s shooting pull-up threes, which is yet another reason to believe that he’ll be the primary ball-handler even if he starts at forward.
To that point, because Cunningham isn’t one of the most athletic players, his methodical scoring approach could be more useful at small forward. This could also help Cunningham defensively, as he won’t be tested quite as much laterally.
In fact, there are a variety of physiques and levels of athleticism at both forward positions, which could make it easier for the Pistons veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic.
Though not nearly as explosive as LaVine, Bogdanovic is a skilled scorer that’s an even better shooter than the high-flyer. Bogdanovic has a career shooting percentage of 39.4 percent and shoots 41.1 percent from 3-point range.
With he and LaVine slotted in at power forward and shooting guard, the spacing for the team is unlikely to be questioned. Especially if Ivey continues to showcase potential in that area.
Ivey, shooting 34.2 percent from beyond the arc in his rookie season, has shot 37.3 percent on his catch-and-shoot threes.
In exchange for LaVine, who the Bulls will be reluctant to relinquish though roster reset may be possible, the Pistons will also be trading center James Wiseman, power forward Marvin Bagley III, and guard Alec Burks to fulfill the salary requirements.
The most important name on this list could be Wiseman, who has looked promising while in Detroit. Nonetheless, with rookie center Jalen Duren having proven himself to be a dominant interior force, the Pistons should be willing to move the big man.
In making a trade with the Bulls, the Pistons will have the option of bringing back center Andre Drummond as well as additional draft compensation, such as a second-round pick.
Drummond, the former face of the franchise. With what will be just one season remaining on his deal, it could be a quick feel-good story for the team and incentivize Drummond to be a leader in the locker room. On-the-court, Drummond still excels as a rebounder, which could be useful whether he’s in the rotation used situationally.
Regardless, LaVine’s combination of scoring and playmaking ability are not only difficult to come by but a perfect fit for the Pistons. With four years remaining on his contract at 28-years-old, there’s no way they won’t improve by adding him.
He not excels at creating separation for a pure jumper with ease but he and Ivey will be an excellent duo in transition. While he shouldn’t be tasked with running an offense, there are going to be plenty times when both Ivey and Cunningham can play off-ball with him on the court.
Furthermore, with the space they can expect from Bogdanovic’s gravity, LaVine will have plenty of space to operate with inside the arc.
All-in all, it could be exactly what move they need in order to expedite their process of becoming a playoff team.
With Killian Hayes possibly leading a bench that includes Isaiah Stewart, RJ Hampton, and Isaiah Livers, there’s going to be plenty to like about the team. All they could be missing at that point is a second-unit scorer, although Pistons head coach Dwane Casey could opt to let one of Cunningham, Ivey, or LaVine be the primary offensive option in that group.
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