Surely, the two winners of the 2022 NBA draft were the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets. And that’s really interesting because are also the teams they chose with the picks 1 (Cade Cunningham) y 2 (Jalen Green) and 2021. The first ones already know what they drive material especial with cade. The seconds finished satisfied thanks to the progression and the last weeks of Green’s season. Enough to hopefully feel they also have franchise player. That a year later, as it seems to have happened in both cases, you hit the ball in the next draft is a jump to the hyper space, the possibility of definitively accelerating a reconstruction in which the risk is always (and constantly happens) to get stuck. In the mud, year after year. Promise after promise, a what if behind another.
The Pistons haven’t won a playoff game since 2008. In fourteen years, they have reached the playoffs three times: three defeats without scratching anything (4-0). In that stretch they have only been twice in a minimum of 50% wins. These have been dark times, with very little good news and generally unsuccessful attempts: bad luck, bad decisions… it’s always the same. Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Stanley Johnson, Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya and, if things don’t change much, Killian Hayes. A gallery of air shots in the draft with nothing better than the two all star Andre Drummond, empty calories that ended in a failed five-year contract and 130 million. They actually needed good news. Fall into the well (20-52 in the 2020-21 season) and fish at great generational player: Cade Cunningham. His rookie year was delicious: 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.6 assists per game with a feeling that he has only just begun to scratch the surface of his potential. and from whatand it will be better the better your teammates are because he makes sure everyone plays. You connect all the wires, press all the switches.
The young movement had started a year before Cade, in 2020. If Killian Hayes (pick 7) hangs by a thread in the new nucleus of the team, the Pistons they fished in the first round to Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey. A tough center who progresses in fits and starts and a small forward who was excellent news in the year I of Cade and it was confirmed as a value for the future, one more in the new Pistons that it is forging Troy Weaver, who in two years as general manager has totally changed the wind of the franchise. In 48 hours of frenetic activity, the executive gave a lesson on how to operate in the offices to unleash the state of optimism around his team.
Ayton, as a great goal or as a hook
Jerami Grant, his great asset as a transfer piece, left for the Portland Trail Blazers for much less than what the Pistons (a priori) would have obtained for him before the last winter shutdown: his almost 21 million contract went to Oregon in exchange from a 2025 first-round pick, 1-4 and apparently low (he’s from the Milwaukee Bucks), a second-round trade that gave the Pistons 36th in this draft and a couple of future runners-up. As the Blazers absorbed Grant’s salary with a trade exception They didn’t send a dollar to the Pistons, who approached the $50 million cap space barrier. More than anyone days before the opening of the market and, was still supposed to be on Wednesday, striding toward DeAndre Ayton and his potential max contract in the MoTown.
But Weaver had other plans. Either prepared in advance or masterfully crafted on the fly, as things came together on a triumphant draft night Thursday. The Pistons don’t they stung with the comings and goings of the Kings, who chose number 4 and ended, as it seemed sung, with Keegan Murray. The first miracle that Weaver needed had arrived. Jaden Ivey, for almost everyone (except for the Kings) a talent top 4 (or more, for many), was available to the Pistons with the pick 5. Many teams called to get the explosive point guard from Purdue, but the Pistons did not enter the rag, they added another young man with potential for Superstar and they prepared the blow that, immediately afterwards, few saw coming. In a complicated flurry of moves between them, the Knicks and the Hornets, took advantage of the economic needs of the other two, how should it be doneto climb to pick 13 and take to ultra physical Jalen Duren, 18-year-old center who had fallen in love with the franchise in their pre-draft training. The Pistons, with salary space to spare, absorbed the 9 million that the Knicks (thinking Jalen Brunson) wanted to take away with Kemba Walker, who will now leave Detroit via buyout. They continued with a lot of salary space, they took a prize pick 36 who will be left to mature in Europe (Gabriel Procida) and showed that perhaps Ayton was not the jackpot but just a lure. We’ll see what the market says, but from Michigan they are already talking about investing that still luscious mouthful of salary space in a few veterans who solidify the new young core and not in a single big contract (Ayton, Miles Bridges…). Another way to build.
Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey and Jalen Duren are that new young core in which Isaiah Stewart still has a place. And we’ll see what happens with Killian Hayes. Ivey appears as a great complement to backcourt for Cade Cunningham if he gets used to playing without the ball, to take advantage of his new teammate’s intelligence… and let’s not say if, in addition, he gets a few shots outside. He’s an explosive point guard, tremendous when he goes to the rim. He still makes bad decisions, he has a hard time seeing the pass bueno and his endings are irregular when he cannot simply impose his physique. But the talent is there. Duren, for his part, is a pivot of Old School. A 2.11 who won’t turn 19 until November and who has a huge physique, ideal for intimidating on defense and finishing the plays that Ivey and Cade start above the rim.
Cade Cunningham is 20 years old. Ivey another 20. Duren, 18. Bey 23 and Stewart, 21. Hayes, for whom she still has faith, only 20. The Pistons are one of the big winners in the draft (and around) and one of the teams that everyone will want to see in the League Pass: one of the young projects with the most potential. That he may have already given, the most difficult of all, with his next Super stars. And also with the ideal accessories to form a block that, here comes the final step, win many basketball games. Things were done so well in a handful of hours, perfect plan or reflex improvisation, that Deandre Ayton went from dream to option to study in a seen and not seen. And the Pistons, an NBA classic, accelerate. Or so it seems. At last.