NBA teams began pointing to the 2012 draft as soon as the early-entry deadline for 2011 came and went with several prospects considered lottery locks deciding to return to college basketball. Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Thomas Robinson, John Henson, Tyler Zeller, Jeremy Lamb, Terrence Jones and Perry Jones III all would have been strong lottery candidates a year ago.

If next season goes as planned, the Pistons won't have a first-round
draft pick - but no matter what happens next season, they'll have the
ability to wade into free agency or to benefit via trades involving
teams looking for financial relief.

The Pistons traded Ben Gordon and a protected future No. 1 pick - fully
lottery protected in 2013 - to Charlotte on Tuesday night for Corey
Maggette, a 32-year-old small forward who gives the Pistons a rim
attacker that complements Lawrence Frank's offensive philosophy.

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has acquired forward Corey Maggette from the Charlotte Bobcats in exchange for guard Ben Gordon and a future first-round draft choice.

Editor's note: continues its 14-part draft series with a look at second-round perimeter possibilities. Coming Wenesday: a look at the thin international crop.

If the Pistons land a big man in the first round they feel confident is ready to step into their frontcourt rotation, the focus with their two second-round picks might shift toward adding to their perimeter depth and versatility.

(Editor’s note: continues its 14-part draft series with a look at a group of nine big men who could be under consideration by the Pistons with either of their second-round picks, 39 and 44. Coming Tuesday: a look at perimeter players for those two picks.)

Merely mention the name of Mike Mamula and every NFL general manager will know exactly the implication. In 1995, Mamula cashed a dazzling performance at the NFL draft combine into the No. 7 pick, by Philadelphia, despite a Boston College career that didn’t seem to warrant such status.

Whatever appears certain in the days leading to the NBA draft can turn 90 degrees with a surprise pick or a trade that skews the logical order of a run of picks. The Pistons were reminded of that dramatically a year ago, when one surprise pick and one trade sent guards Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker tumbling and sucked up all the big men they’d focused on in the weeks prior to the 2011 draft.

Back when the NBA was run more like a mom-and-pop enterprise than the global corporate conglomerate it would become, general managers would show up at the draft with dog-eared copies of Street & Smith’s Basketball Yearbook under their arms.

(Editor’s note:’s 14-part draft series continues with a look at a group of players projected to go either in the late first or early second round but could slip to the Pistons’ pick at No. 39 in the second round. Coming Monday: A look at the group of big men who could be considered with either of Detroit’s second-round picks at 39 and 44.)