It has been quite the draft weekend for the Detroit Pistons.
With the fifth overall pick being their first selection in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Pistons were pretty much in wait-and-see mode as the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Houston Rockets, and the Sacramento Kings made their picks.
Once Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., and Keegan Murray went off the board for the Magic, the Thunder, the Rockets, and the Kings, respectively, Detroit was elated to see Jaden Ivey fall into their laps.
To have the player many consider to be the best player in the draft slide to the fifth pick was a win in itself, given his body of work through two seasons with the Purdue Boilermakers (14.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists through 59 games). Nevertheless, the Pistons remained busy on draft night after acquiring the 13th overall pick Jalen Duren from the Charlotte Hornets and Kemba Walker (who will likely be bought out) from the New York Knicks in exchange for a 2025 first-round pick acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks.
Detroit would then swap second round picks with the Portland Trail Blazers, sending Ismael Kamagate (46th overall selection) to the Blazers for Gabriele Procida (36th overall selection). Once draft night ended, the Pistons signed Syracuse University’s Buddy Boeheim to a two-way contract, while Detroit agreed to terms with UCLA Bruin Jules Bernard to a yet to be disclosed contract.
The Pistons’ summer league roster, which as of this writing reportedly includes Miami Hurricanes Charlie Moore and Kameron McGusty, Buddy’s brother and teammate Jimmy Boeheim, and Howard University Bison Kyle Foster could be another pipeline of talent for Detroit or even the other teams looking to fill out their roster. Foster, in particular, could be a great asset with his 45.9 percent shooting from behind the 3-point line, which was the best mark in the NCAA Division I last season.
Foster and the rest of those in the Pistons summer league roster technically have a shot to make the opening day roster, but with Detroit currently having nine out of their 15 players (first rounders Duren, Ivey, and, for now, the incoming Walker included) under contract for 2022 listed as guards, it may be take a handful of stellar performances to do so.
Duren, Ivey, and those who will eventually make the cut will join a Pistons roster that includes last year’s top pick Cade Cunningham, underrated wing Saddiq Bey, and part-time NFL player Isaiah Stewart. This collection of young talent already makes for an exciting roster and it would be fair to expect Detroit to exceed their 23-win total from last season. The experience the non-rookies have gained through the ups and downs in the NBA toughened them up and will help them guide the first-year players who will encounter their own bumps along the way. All things considered, the Pistons could even be your favorite player’s favorite team starting next season… that is, until Detroit beats them (whenever that will be).
Fit likely won’t be an issue at least for Ivey and Duren largely due to varying playing styles and the blurred lines with regard to defining positions within the backcourt and frontcourt. Duren and Stewart can pretty much take either of the 4 or 5 slots, with their roles largely contingent on favorable matchups on a given night. Meanwhile, Cunningham and Ivey give the Pistons a nuanced offensive approach from the perimeter. The former will run much of the offense and make plays in transition, while the latter will create from the halfcourt and in turn, share some of the playmaking duties as he continues to develop his game. In fact, with all the Detroit ties Ivey has, it already seems like a match made in heaven.
After years of jostling with teams for the prime draft position, the Detroit Pistons are now looking like a team set to fight for playoff spots in the near future. The 2022-2023 NBA Season will have its ups and downs, but the lessons along the way will add to the plans in place and the direction set to bringing back winning to the city of Detroit.