Known Pistons draft workouts reveal heavy emphasis on perimeter players so far
To the extent you can draw any conclusions from a puzzle half completed – and you really can’t – the Pistons draft puzzle is only filled in around the perimeter.
Based on the word of draft prospects who’ve participated in Zoom interviews arranged by the NBA, five players have said they’ve taken part in workouts with the Pistons. All five – guards Tyrese Haliburton, Killian Hayes, R.J. Hampton and Kira Lewis and wing Aaron Nesmith – are perimeter players.
A sixth player, point guard LaMelo Ball, was reported to have worked out for the Pistons and two other teams in Los Angeles last week.
But before you leap to conclusions, consider the information we don’t know.
Each team was given permission by the NBA to conduct 10 in-person workouts while adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols. Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said earlier this month he intended to use the full complement. So there are potentially four more workouts the Pistons could have conducted or have scheduled ahead of Wednesday’s draft and all or some of them could be with interior players or bigger wings.
A number of players, including projected lottery picks Onyeka Okongwu and Patrick Williams, declined to reveal the teams for which they’ve worked out on the advice of their agents. Okongwu is no better than 50-50 to be available to the Pistons and is considered a prototypical modern NBA big man. Williams, a 6-foot-8 athletic wing player, has created significant recent buzz with many media mock drafts speculating he’s of special interest to the Pistons.
Ball has been widely considered a top-three pick, potentially the No. 1 pick. The teams that joined the Pistons at his Los Angeles workout, Golden State and Charlotte, pick second and third. While there has been recent speculation that Ball could slip – with shaky interviews cited as a cause – there doesn’t seem a significant likelihood he’d be available to the Pistons if they stay at No. 7. Weaver was asked if there was value in moving up.
“Moving up is definitely an option,” he said. “I’m excited about the draft.”
Lottery candidates who said they did not work out for the Pistons include wings Isaac Okoro and Devin Vassell, power forward Obi Toppin and guard Anthony Edwards, another candidate to go No. 1. Memphis 7-footer James Wiseman is another in the mix to be the top overall pick.
Weaver came to public awareness based on his acumen as a talent evaluator while serving as the No. 2 in command of the Oklahoma City front office over the past decade-plus. This will be his first draft as the final authority, though he’s not approaching the process any differently.
“I don’t feel any different,” he said. “Feels the same to me. Do your work. Be diligent. Be confident. Let it rip. It’s like batting third or batting fourth – you better hit the ball. I feel pretty confident.”