George Blaha gives us basketball play-by-play on a kid getting shots up, March 2020.
The Detroit Pistons are finally in position to get a high draft pick after the season, whenever that may come.
Here’s the bad news: There is no Zion Williamson or any surefire All-Stars among this year’s prospects.
The Pistons haven’t drafted higher than No. 7 overall since the infamous Darko Milicic selection with the No. 2 pick in the loaded 2003 draft.
When the league suspended play after March 11, the Pistons had dropped to fifth-worst in the league at 20-46 with 16 games remaining. Only Golden State (15-50), Cleveland (19-46), Minnesota (19-45) and Atlanta (20-47) had lower winning percentages.
Naturally, the order could change if the NBA resumes the regular season. It’s also a solid bet that the date of the draft lottery (May 19) and draft (June 25) will be moved, unless the season is canceled in the next month or two.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said recently the league is willing to play deep into the summer to finish this season, that decision isn’t likely to come soon with the novel coronavirus pandemic causing changes daily.
The status of the league’s annual combine on May 21-24 and workouts remains up in the air.
Let’s assume the Pistons remain at the No. 5 spot. Their chances of staying at that spot after the lottery are almost nil — 2.2%.
How is that possible? The league revised the lottery beginning last year in an effort to discourage tanking by flattening the odds.
The revised system helped New Orleans, which entered the lottery at No. 7, to land Williamson with the top pick. Memphis moved from No. 8 to No. 2 and the Los Angeles Lakers jumped from No. 11 to No. 3.
Under the current standings, the Pistons would have a 10.5% chance of getting the top pick and a nearly identical chance of landing the No. 2 (10.5%), No. 3 (10.6%) and No. 4 (10.5%) pick. Their chances of falling to No. 6 overall would be 19.6% with an even greater chance of sliding to No. 7 (26.7%). They could also land at No. 8 (8.7%) or even No. 9 (0.6%). They have a 42.1% chance of moving up in the lottery. Find all the pick odds here.
The Pistons’ biggest positional need is a young point guard who could ideally learn under the tutelage of Derrick Rose. The good news is that a majority of projected lottery picks are guards. But there’s no standout like Memphis’ Ja Morant, the No. 2 pick last season and likely 2020 Rookie of the Year.
Here’s a look at the top prospects:
Anthony Edwards: The Georgia freshman combo guard is the lukewarm favorite to be the top overall pick, mainly due to his scoring ability and physique (6 feet 5, 225 pounds). Edwards averaged 19.2 points for the .500 Bulldogs team, though he shot 29.4% on 3-point attempts.
LaMelo Ball: The younger brother of New Orleans guard Lonzo Ball and son of outspoken father LaMar Ball, LaMelo Ball played 12 games in Australia’s pro league and averaged 17 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists before he was sidelined by a foot injury. Taller than most point guards (6-7) and an elite passer.
Tyrese Haliburton: Arguably the top pure point man in the draft, Haliburton averaged 15.2 points on 50.4% shooting and 6.5 assists as an Iowa State sophomore. His season was cut short by a left wrist fracture.
Tyrese Maxey: The Kentucky freshman averaged 14 points and 3.2 assists but struggled from long range (29.2%). He has strength, toughness and the ability to play either guard spot.
Isaac Okoro: The 6-6 Auburn freshman is considered the top wing defender in the draft. Averaged 12.9 points but his offensive game needs lots of work, especially his jumper (29% from deep).
Deni Avdija: The 6-9 Israeli can best be described as a point forward because of his passing and ball-handling ability. Like many of the prospects, needs to find consistency with his jumper.
Obi Toppin: The 6-9 sophomore was poised to be a breakout star in the NCAA tournament on a 29-2 Dayton club. The college Player of the Year candidate averaged 20.0 points and 7.6 rebounds.
James Wiseman: Was expected to be the top freshman in the country but was suspended 12 games by the NCAA for financial assistance provided by Memphis coach Penny Hardaway to Wiseman’s family prior to Hardaway becoming the Tigers’ coach. Wiseman left school during his suspension after appearing in three games but he’s considered a franchise big man. The 7-1 Wiseman could be an alternative to Christian Wood if the Pistons are uncertain about re-signing the unrestricted free agent.
Onyeka Okongwu: USC freshman posted impressive numbers by collecting 16.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. Needs to develop an outside game and is undersized for a center (6-9).