Follow the trail and – if first 17 picks don’t yield wild surprises – the Pistons will wind up with …

Stan Van Gundy, a fan of all sports, says he pores over NFL and baseball mock drafts. He knows they’re largely a colossal waste of time, but admits they’re “fun.”

“Mock drafts are always a little bit amusing to me because, I guarantee you, they’re not getting their information from the teams,” he said.

He’s right, of course. Or if he’s wrong, then the teams that are leaking their information – legitimate information, at least – are probably teams that wind up picking in the lottery a lot, and not coincidentally.

But here’s a fun project based on something else Van Gundy said earlier this week in talking about tonight’s NBA draft: guessing which 11 players are the ones the Pistons are either certain or almost certain will be gone ahead of them – and then guessing which among that next group of players is the one they’ll wind up getting with their pick at 18.

That comes from Van Gundy saying his staff, led by assistant general manager Brian Wright, gave him a list of seven players who are sure to be taken ahead of the Pistons’ pick and another list of four players that are all but certain to go in the top 17. After that, Van Gundy said the Pistons have a list with enough – more than enough, he said – players on it that they’re confident they’ll pick up someone they believe will become a contributor for them, just not necessarily as a rookie.

So, on with the guessing. Because it’s fun …