If The Pistons Have The No. 1 Pick In The Draft...
There are some really intriguing players at the top of the 2022 NBA Draft board as some teams are already starting to look ahead to that. Unfortunately for Pistons fans, that's about all there is to look forward to right now.
As things currently stand, the Pistons have the second-worst record in the league ahead of only the Orlando Magic. That means the Pistons have a decent shot at landing the No. 1 overall pick (for the second year in a row) and a really good shot at being somewhere in the top four, which is where the elite talent seems to be located.
If the Pistons end up with the No. 1 pick, they might have their guy identified. According to ESPN NBA Draft insider Chad Ford, Detroit has settled in on Jabari Smith out of Auburn. Some see Paolo Banchero out of Duke or Chet Holmgren out of Gonzaga as the top pick, but there's some that believe Smith would pair better with last year's No. 1 pick, Cade Cunningham. Here's Ford's breakdown of the Auburn freshman.
Jabari Smith Jr.
6’10” | 210 | Wingspan: 7’1”
Age on draft night: 19
2022 Draft Projection: 1-3
In early December, Smith moved up to No. 3, and we proclaimed he had “a real shot to become the No. 1 pick.” It’s more than a shot now.
NBA scouts and GMs have moved significantly toward Smith. For the first time, I’m comfortable saying there’s a consensus No. 1 pick. Smith is also our first consensus Tier 1 prospect (potential superstar) in this draft.
While not everyone projects Smith as the No. 1 pick, a significant majority of scouts and GMs see him as the prospect with the highest ceiling in this draft class, with the elite combination of size, length, shooting ability, athleticism and motor to become an NBA star.
Smith isn’t as polished as Paolo Banchero, isn’t as explosive as Jaden Ivey and doesn’t have the defensive potential of Chet Holmgren. But he has so many strengths and so few weaknesses that most of the teams that I spoke with say he’d be their choice if the draft were today.
In his first 14 games, Smith averaged 21.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.1 blocks and 2.1 steals per 36 minutes and shooting 44% from the field and 44% from 3.
At 6-10, 210 pounds, Smith has great position versatility and would be lethal off the ball with Cunningham running the show. If you put both of them off the ball, with Killian Hayes or another pass-first point guard running the offense, you suddenly have two very tall, very skilled and very versatile players who can score from all three levels and defend multiple positions. Smith hasn't been quite as publicized as Banchero or Holmgren, but overall he might be a better fit with Cunningham. At the end of the day, it feels like you can't go wrong with any of them, along with Jaden Ivey out of Purdue.