Detroit Pistons general manager Troy Weaver pulled off another strong NBA draft on Thursday night, taking Purdue guard Jaden Ivey at No. 5 and trading with the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks to nab Memphis center Jalen Duren at No. 13.
The Pistons also added Italian wing Gabriele Procida in the second round, with the 36th overall pick. Grading Detroit’s three selections:
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No. 5: Jaden Ivey: A+
Ivey wanted Detroit, and the Pistons wanted Ivey.
If ESPN analyst — and unabashed New York Knicks fan Stephen A. Smith had his way, Ivey would be heading to New York, but it was obvious the former Boilermaker wouldn’t fall that far.
Ivey’s quick first step and his ability to attack the basket and get to the free throw line should complement backcourt mate Cade Cunningham well. The duo’s potential certainly has Weaver and fans excited.
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If there’s any rub, it’s that Ivey shot just 35.8% on 3-pointers at Purdue last season. His midrange shot has also been criticized, but he told The Athletic during the draft that he has worked on it all summer.
Ivey will probably play off the ball more than some of his NBA comparisons, such as Ja Morant and Russell Westbrook, so honing his jump shot would be beneficial. But continued development there shouldn’t take away from the burst and bounce the 6-foot-4, 195-pounder brings to the Motor City.
No. 13: Jalen Duren: A
Another win for Pistons fans and another loss for Smith and fellow Knicks supporter Spike Lee.
Duren doesn’t turn 19 until November, but he’s already 6-11 and 250 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He fills a frontcourt opening following Detroit’s trade of Jerami Grant and profiles as the team’s center of the future.
He doesn’t shoot 3-pointers, so he isn’t likely to stretch into a power forward, but he averaged 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season as the AAC Freshman of the Year.
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Duren’s addition may change the Pistons’ fit with top free agent center Deandre Ayton, who they’ve been heavily linked to in the past 24-48 hours; they could use their sizable cap space elsewhere.
On Thursday, Weaver said he wasn’t concerned about playing Duren and Isaiah Stewart together. That said, he might still be interested in making Duren an understudy to Ayton.
No. 36: Gabriele Procida: B-
Procida, acquired via a pick swap with the Blazers in Wednesday’s Jerami Grant trade, will likely be a draft-and-stash, so don’t expect to see him at Little Caesars Arena soon.
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He averaged only seven points on 4.3 field goal attempts and 18.5 minutes per game for Fortitudo Kigili Bologna of Serie A last season.
However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks said he considers Procida a great value at No. 36 and potentially one of the best shooters in this draft class. Procida shot 38.3% on 3-pointers in 26 games.
Arkansas center Jaylin Williams was ESPN draft expert Jonathan Givony’s final mock pick for the Pistons at this spot, but he ended up going to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 34.
Taking Ivey at the top and making a splash with the Duren trade solidified a second consecutive A for the Pistons. Ivey should be the exciting Detroit co-star needed next to Cunningham, and Duren has a promising future down low.
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