DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons won the NBA Draft, and it’s not even close.
When the league first announced the lottery, the Detroit Pistons, to many fans, got hosed, as experts believed this year’s draft was a four-person race featuring Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, and Jaden Ivey.
So when Detroit was cemented at No. 5, the rumor mill started moving.
The Sacramento Kings were on the clock, and they took Keegan Murray because Ivey (among other reasons) said he didn’t want to play for the franchise.
Read: Draft prospect Jaden Ivey says he would like to play for Detroit Pistons
Instead, he wanted to return home and pair up with the 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham to form another dynamic duo to which the Motor City has grown accustomed.
During their championship years, the Detroit Bad Boys backcourt consisted of Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame guards Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars.
With the Bad Boys 2.0, it was NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups and Richard (Rip) Hamilton, who played a part in this year’s draft, as he represented the franchise during the ping pong ball selection.
Ivey has been compared to (the franchise) Steve Francis, Ja Morant (who his mom used to coach in the NBA), and Russell Westbrook.
During his college days with the Purdue Boilermakers, Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game on 46% shooing from the field, and 36% from distance.
Those numbers earned him 2022 Consensus 2nd Team All-American honors.
For those who say Ivey isn’t a good shooter, Ivey tied a Purdue record for the most three-pointers made without a miss against the Butler Bulldogs in Dec. with six.
When you get a guy projected to go higher in the draft than your original slot, that means it’s a steal, and the Pistons got away like bandits, or so we thought.
The Charlotte Hornets selected Memphis Tigers big man Jalen Duren with the No. 13 pick. Then, Local 4 Lead Digital Editor Derick Hutchinson dropped a bomb, as it was reported that Duren was coming to Detroit for the future first-round pick.
READ: Pistons acquire No. 13 overall pick Jalen Duren in 3-team trade on NBA draft night
The Pistons acquired the pick a day earlier, when Olympic Gold Medalist Jerami Grant was traded to the Portland Trailblazers.
Read: Pistons trade Jerami Grant to Portland for 2025 first-round pick
So the Pistons’ new young core now consists of Cunningham, Ivey, Saddiq Bey, and Duren?
The 6′11 center Duren has a 7′5 wing span and is a rim protector who can alter shots and attack the basket with ruthless aggression like Hall of Fame center Ben Wallace.
During his college days with the Memphis Tigers and coach Penny Hardaway, Duren averaged 12 points per game, 8.1 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game while shooting 59.7% from the field.
Not to mention he’s young, as he is only 18 years old.
“I’m super excited for the organization for now,” said Hamilton. “We got J and J. I was super surprised that Jaden Ivey actually slipped to the No. 5 pick. He (Ivey) is a once-in-a-lifetime talent who pairs well with Cade Cunningham. Cade has that Lebron James type of game when playing at the point guard position that he’s going to make the right play. If a guy is up ahead running the court, he will throw it up. I think that is what we were lacking last year, as we didn’t have a guy that could make a play for somebody else or for themselves. Now adding Ivey into the mix is a great 1-2 punch for years to come, and when you look at our organization, we’ve always had great backcourts.”
Hamilton said he thought the assets that Troy Weaver acquired would be substantial for the organization’s future.
“I think this is a huge asset to add Ivey and to add Duran, who is a physical guy. To the organization, they fit the Detroit Pistons mode,” Hamilton said. “The Pistons fans are going to be excited to have these two guys on their roster.”
From a nationwide standpoint, ESPN NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski took to Twitter to praise Weaver and his actions to help change the organization’s trajectory.
“Tremendous coup for Detroit GM Troy Weaver to land two of his top targets in this draft: Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren -- with the cost of only a future first-round pick,” Wojnarowski said.
Tremendous coup for Detroit GM Troy Weaver to land two of his top targets in this draft: Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren -- with the cost of only a future first-round pick.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 24, 2022
Stephen A. Smith took time on his show First Take to praise the Pistons.
“I just think I have to look at the Detroit Pistons,” said Smith. “With Ivey, with Duren and these boys. They got some young talent. This kid Ivey I wanted the New York Knicks to get him so bad as he is special. I’m not saying that he’s that Dwyane Wade type, but what I will tell you is that when I envision him with Cade Cunningham, I think they drafted him because they believe he could potentially be that kind of player. He’s a 6′4 tweener. Usually, guards like Kobe Bryant (God rest his soul) are 6′6 or so. Ivey is not that big, but I think he can grow even more. I think he definitely has the athletism, the fire, and he wants it bad. You can see it, and I think that some special things could be developing with him with Cade Cunningham in Detroit.”
Smith compared the new duo to some legends of years past.
“Think of Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars with Vinnie (the microwave) Johnson coming off the bench during their title days in Detroit,” Smith said. “When you talk about Cade Cunningham with Ivey, I think they got the potential.
Smith even talked about the rim protection that Duren can bring to the table.
“This kid Duren is a rim protector, and I think he’s incredibly athletic, and he has a lot of potential,” said Smith. “Everybody has been raving about him. So I’m going to go with the Detroit Pistons as the winners of the 2022 NBA Draft.”
What are your thoughts? Did the Pistons win the draft with their two first-round lottery picks, or do you think another team takes the cake?