Despite posting the worst record in the league, the Detroit Pistons secured the 5th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Detroit is reportedly trying to trade down slightly if the haul is worthwhile, so they are a team worth monitoring for a potential blockbuster. Check out below for Detroit Pistons draft picks, needs, targets, and tendencies.
Detroit Pistons 2023 Draft Picks
- 5th overall
- 31st overall
Detroit Pistons Draft Needs
Detroit’s backcourt is cemented with Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey on the roster. Both can orchestrate the offense in a half-court or transition setting while also breaking down the defense off the dribble for a jumper. Ivey offers more shooting, but Cunningam is the superior driver. Overall, Detroit’s playmaking and ball handling is bountiful with these two together. And although Killian Hayes and RJ Hampton haven’t lived up to their potential, they are still capable of making a leap.
Their center rotation needs no upgrades at the moment either. Jalen Duren impressed as a rookie last season because of his defense, rebounding, screening, and rolling talent. Detroit also acquired former second overall pick James Wiseman at the deadline, who frequently overlaps with Duren in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Plus, Marvin Bagley and Isaiah Stewart are capable of manning the paint for stretches should Duren or Wiseman accrue fouls.
Detroit’s wing rotation requires immediate attention though. Outside of 34-year-old Bojan Bogdanovic, they possess no self-creation or reliable spacing in the slightest. They completely lack wing defenders too, which is crucial in this era of the NBA. This area will be their biggest focus of the draft and free agency.
In addition, the Pistons must improve their three-point shooting; they ranked 22nd during the regular season at 35.1 3PT%. Cunningham is a poor shooter that operates via drives, and Duren offers zero spacing. Therefore, it’s essential to stretch the floor and allow them to avoid clogged paints.
Detroit Pistons Draft Targets
- Cam Whitmore; Villanova
If the Pistons stay at 5th, then Villanova forward Cam Whitmore would be a boon. He provides superb self-creation, perimeter shooting, defensive upside, and the ability to thrive on or off-ball. Whitmore would alleviate creation pressure from the backcourt and give Detroit a budding bonafide wing scorer. Plus, he fits the timeline since he turns 19 in July. Their starting lineup would be the following: Cunningham, Ivey, Bogdanovic, Whitmore, Duren.
- Taylor Hendricks; UCF
Utah is allegedly attempting to acquire the 5th pick for both 9th and 16th, which would leave Detroit in a position to snag UCF forward Taylor Hendricks. He’s a devastating defender that times block or steal attempts to perfection, so Detroit would finally roster someone to throw at elite NBA scorers. Hendricks is also a legitimate threat from three; he shot 39.4 3PT% on 4.6 attempts per game. Finally, he owns untapped off-the-dribble scoring, and the Pistons can suffer through the growing pains since they remain miles away from championship contention.
- Jordan Hawkins; UConn
If Detroit picks up a mid first rounder by trading back, then Jordan Hawkins is an excellent target. He’s probably the best three-point shooter in this draft, and his knack for flying off of screens into an automatic catch-and-shoot jumper will be adored by Cunningham and Ivey. Spacing is what Detroit needs, and Hawkins provides this in droves.
- Julian Strawther; Gonzaga
Because this draft is immensely talented, Detroit will find an impact player with the 31st pick. Strawther was a two year starter at Gonzaga, and his strengths align with Detroit’s needs. The 21-year-old forward owns a 6’8” frame and shot a 40.8 3PT% on 5.3 attempts per game. He frequently came off of screens, and his quick release allowed him to get the shot off. Overall, Strawther is a nice complementary piece that deters defenders from shading inside.
Detroit Pistons Recent Draft Picks & Tendencies
In the first round of the last four drafts, the Pistons selected the following players: Jaden Ivey, Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Sekou Doumbouya. They were not afraid of non-college prospects, and the Pistons also favored ball handling and playmaking over perimeter shooting. Based on those trends, Ausar Thompson is indicated. However, I expect Detroit to shake up their recent strategy and rack up scoring and three-point shooting.