The NBA Draft is approaching soon, and the Detroit Pistons are locked in with the number twelve pick. Just a few weeks ago, ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Pistons were open to moving the #12 pick in exchange for a win-now veteran. Who exactly could this “win-now veteran” be you might ask? Well, there’s a few guys the Pistons could target if they want to deal the pick.
Some win-now veterans that come to mind are Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, and Klay Thompson. You could make a case that all four of these guys can make the Pistons a better basketball team, but there are cons to every one of these possibilities.
Paul George is a one-year rental, and the Pistons would have to give up this year’s first, Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson, and even a possibility of future first rounders. Basically, the Pistons would have to deal important parts of their future in exchange for a guy that will bolt to free agency in 2018. Adding Paul George to the Pistons roster would give them that “star” they’ve been looking for, but it still wouldn’t be enough to contend to win the Eastern Conference.
Carmelo Anthony is a guy who has been rumored to the Pistons for a few years, and yes, he should have become a Piston in the 2003 NBA Draft. Anthony has two years remaining on his contract and is due $26,243,760 in 2017-2018 and 27,928,140 in 2018-2019. Anthony is at a point in his career where defense is optional, and he’s a ball stopper which doesn’t really fit into the Pistons plans, plus he costs a good chunk of money to be a player that isn’t improving the team dramatically. Tobias Harris is a similar player to Anthony and is younger and cheaper.
Finally, we have Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler. There’s really no negatives to these two, and I’d love to see either them in a Pistons uniform for the 2017-2018 campaign. Thompson is someone Detroit could target, but it’s clear Golden State doesn’t have any interest trading him and would like to keep their super team core intact. Jimmy Butler is a different story, and he’d be a perfect fit in Detroit. Butler is a two-way guy, who’s under contract for multiple more years, and would bring a winning attitude and leadership to a team that desperately needs some. The Bulls have discussed dealing Jimmy Butler, but the Pistons don’t seem to have enough assets to reel him in.
In any scenario where the Pistons were to acquire any “win-now veteran”, they’d have to give up this year’s #12 pick. Unless you’re getting a Klay Thompson or Jimmy Butler, or any other young promising player in exchange for that pick, I don’t see any reason to deal it.
The NBA Draft can be crazy. Every year, analysts and scouts claim that there’s only a certain number of players who will make an impact in the league, and while I agree to an extent, but an immense talent can slip, especially to #12. This year, guys like Donavan Mitchell, Dennis Smith Jr, Zach Collins, and Luke Kennard could be available at their selection. Dennis Smith Jr is a long shot, but crazier things have happened, and if he falls to Detroit, there’s your PG of the future. Donavan Mitchell has emerged as a fan-favorite it seems for the Pistons to select. Mitchell, out of Louisville, is a 6’3 PG who is extremely athletic, long, can play both PG and SG, and has the ability to defend, and is willing to. Although the Pistons don’t have a top-10 pick and aren’t likely to land any of the “best” prospects in this draft, they’re still in a good position to draft someone who could be a huge part of their future.
The Eastern Conference still features a man named LeBron James, along with young and upcoming teams in the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards. There’s no sense in trading a first round pick this year to get someone in return who STILL doesn’t put you in contention with the rest of the Eastern Conference. A much safer route, which generally is proven to work, is building a roster through a draft and acquire young talent. Trading away draft picks, potential, and young talent to go into win-now mode isn’t usually the smartest way of doing things, just ask the Brooklyn Nets.
If the Pistons can acquire a win-now veteran by not trading the pick, then go for it. For now, Stan Van Gundy and company need to keep the first-round pick, draft a player like Mitchell with upside and give Pistons fans something to look forward to in the future.