How the first pick in the NBA Draft impacts Detroit Pistons rebuild
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Congratulations to the Pistons, all that horrible basketball (they call it tanking) finally paid off… or did it?
The Detroit Pistons select…
If this was a Hollywood movie, Detroit would overlook the obvious choice and select an underdog as the first pick.
The @DetroitPistons get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft lottery.
Will they take Cade Cunningham? 👀 pic.twitter.com/wIQTuZF8en
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 23, 2021
Too bad it’s not, this is real life so unless something goes catastrophically wrong in the next few months, Cade Cunningham will be a Piston next season.
The number one prospect from Oklahoma State is an exciting player, a three-level scorer with an advanced skill set. A six-foot-eight inches tall guard, Cunningham looks and plays like a franchise player both on offense and defense.
Selecting Cunningham is a no-brainer and a huge step in the right direction for the Pistons but what does it mean for their immediate plans?
Congrats to the Detroit Pistons for landing Cade Cunningham. I watched him a lot at OklaSt. He's very good as a scorer/passer/defender. Plays big at 6-8. But I'm afraid he's not a life-changing No. 1 overall pick.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 23, 2021
The next step for the Pistons’ front office would be to decide if they want to continue building a team for the future or immediate success.
Their current roster indicates they won’t be contenders anytime soon, adding Cunningham to a predominantly young squad doesn’t change that.
Although Detroit will be fun to watch, Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham could form a phenomenal backcourt in the future.
But it is unlikely that they improve on this 20-win season instantly unless the front office speeds up the rebuild.
The other options would be to follow either one of the LA Lakers or the Atlanta Hawks blueprints.
Los Angeles Lakers blueprint
That means the Pistons would have to convince big-time free agents to come to Detroit (good luck with that).
As a result, Detroit would be sacrificing a chunk of their young core to land a top player to complement Jerami Grant (if they can hold on to him) and Cade Cunningham.
Just as the LA Lakers did in 2019 when they brought in Anthony Davis at what was considered a great cost at the time.
Remember the Anthony Davis trade?
No. 4 pick in 2019
Top-8 protected in 2021, becomes unprotected in ‘22
Unprotected swap in ‘23
Unprotected 1st in ‘24
Unprotected swap in ‘25
2020 NBA Championship😉
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) October 3, 2020
But nobody is complaining now, they won the championship while the Pelicans have failed to make the playoffs since.
However, it’s important to note that it doesn’t always work out and there is no guaranteed path to a championship.
Atlanta Hawks blueprint
Atlanta built through the draft while suffering through three horrid seasons but the plan was obvious and effective.
They brought in some solid pieces to complement their young core led by franchise player, Trae Young.
Danilo Gallinari on why he chose to sign with the Atlanta Hawks in free agency: "I like the project. I like the team that we've got. I like the young guys that we've got. It was a very exciting choice for me."
— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) December 2, 2020
Detroit could benefit from using a similar strategy, Cade Cunningham could turn out to be their own Trae Young.
But they have to build a reliable squad of experienced NBA quality around him and the rest of the roster.
The entire Pistons organization endured back-to-back 20-win regular seasons which produced Killian Hayes and potentially Cade Cunningham.
Oh… I forgot to mention they could also go the Knicks route and mess everything up by handing bloated contracts to bloated players.
The Detroit Pistons are finally in an enviable situation, It would be criminal to blow this opportunity. If they get this right, Detroit could be heading to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2008.
What route do you think the Detroit Pistons should go with the rebuild?
Let me know in the comments.