If the NBA season ended today and then the lottery held to form, the Detroit Pistons would have the No. 8 pick in the 2014 draft. That’s the last possible spot they can land and still keep that selection, as anything No. 9 or lower would turn over to the Charlotte Bobcats.
Detroit currently sits one game back of Cleveland and one ahead of Sacramento in the race to stay top-eight protected, with 12 games left in the regular season. It goes without saying that a lottery pick would help the Pistons’ rebuilding process exponentially. And if they do land at No. 8 in the draft, HoopsHype currently has them adding 6-foot-9 Kentucky star Julius Randle.
Randle is a rare talent in that he combines raw power with a high skill level. He’s Kentucky’s top prospect in a year in which many pundits considered to be Coach Calipari’s greatest recruiting haul. He’s proven to be virtually unguardable for college players. His combination of power and skill set him apart and maked him a big-time post prospect for the NBA level. His on-court mannerisms have caused some to question his focus, however he’s received positive reviews from scouts about his willingness to be coached and learn. In high school, he got a little too enamored with facing the basket and his post game needed some polish, but he has been virtually unstoppable around the basket at UK. While no longer a lock to be a Top 5 pick, Randle, an absolute physical specimen, remains one of this draft’s most intriguing prospects to scouts.
For whatever it’s worth, the next two picks off the board in that mock are Michigan State shooting guard Gary Harris and Creighton small forward Doug McDermott. In theory, either player would fit with the Pistons’ current roster.
The Pistons do not appear to be openly tanking at this point — they’re just not very good. But with their playoff dreams all but dead, taking the pedal further off the gas a bit would be a wise move. Landing No. 9 or No. 10 would be yet another blow to the struggling franchise; even at No. 8, the Pistons would be very susceptible to falling out of that protected spot with a team leapfrogging them in the lottery.