With the fifteenth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select…

Blue Route is bringing you draft coverage leading up to the NBA draft on June 20th, 2019. The Philadelphia 76ers are slated to select 24th pick in the draft. The NBA draft often sees movement, trades and drama, so to prepare you for various potential outcomes, the Blue Route will be giving you draft profiles for the all of the likely top picks, as well as our very own mock draft.

2019 NBA Mock Draft Results
  1. New Orleans Pelicans – Zion Williamson
  2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ja Morant
  3. New York Knicks – RJ Barrett
  4. Los Angeles Lakers – Jarrett Culver
  5. Cleveland Cavaliers – DeAndre Hunter
  6. Phoenix Suns – Coby White
  7. Chicago Bulls – Cam Reddish
  8. Atlanta Hawks – Sekou Doumbouya
  9. Washington Wizards – Bol Bol 
  10. Atlanta Hawks – Jaxson Hayes 
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nickeil Alexander-Walker
  12. Charlotte Hornets – Darius Garland
  13. Miami Heat – PJ Washington
  14. Boston Celtics – Brandon Clarke

Current State of the Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons finished the 2018-19 season in the middle of the pack. They were literally an average team. They won 41 games and lost 41 games, got the eighth seed in the East to then get bounced in the first round, and they’ll most likely be RIGHT back at it next season. Those are the dangers of mediocrity; a draft pick in the middle of the first with less likelihood of star potential, and no real lifespan in the postseason.

Not only are the Pistons an average basketball team with an average draft selection in this month’s NBA Draft, but they also have virtually no salary cap flexibility, in large part thanks to the contracts of Blake Griffin ($34,234,964), Andre Drummond ($27,093,018), and Reggie Jackson ($18,086,956).

Griffin, Drummond, and Jackson are three solid players for a team to build with, but the end result of a squad structured around that core has eight seed written all over it. When it comes to youth and upside, the Pistons have Luke Kennard, Thon Maker, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, and Khyri Thomas; also mediocre.

Looking ahead into 2019 Free Agency

Detroit, as previously stated, doesn’t have the flexibility to make a large splash, or really a splash at all in free agency. This leads to a better question: Who do they trade to create more financial flexibility? The answer(s) is/are simple. You have to move one, two, or all three of Griffin, Drummond, and/or Jackson. What is the most likely option? Probably just one of the aforementioned trio.

To me, Griffin and Drummond, while being an extremely talented four and five, are an unnecessary duo in today’s NBA. With a center like Drummond, who spends most of his time in the paint (he should, at least), it’d be most ideal to space the floor. Blake Griffin has added a three-point shot to his arsenal, however he is still most effective in the low post.

If the Pistons traded Drummond, it’d be interesting to see Griffin body other centers on a nightly basis. He is definitely strong enough, and his athleticism would give him an extreme advantage in most matchups. Trading Griffin would obviously keep Drummond in the middle, create a need at the power forward position, and clear just under $35 million in cap space. To even start talking about free agency in the Motor City, something needs to be done about the state of their current payroll.

The Selection – Rui Hachimura

Rui, who is soon-to-be the first Japanese born player in NBA history, would fit into the current Pistons roster pretty well. Their core pieces play guard, power forward, and center. Hachimura has the ability to play small forward. At 6’8″ and 235 lbs., the Toyama, Japan native would fit the muscle tone of the Pistons’ starting lineup (which, I guess, means Reggie Jackson doesn’t fit at all).

Hachimura will turn 22 in February and would bring leadership, experience, and a well-rounded game to Detroit from day one. He played three years at Gonzaga, most of his minutes coming in his sophomore and junior seasons. Rui played 20.7 minutes in his second season, then his workload increased to 30.2 minutes per game in 2018-19.

This past year, Hachimura averaged 19.7 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Bulldogs. He also shot an incredible 57.9 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from three-point range (on one attempt per game), and 73.9 percent from the free throw stripe. His shooting is above average, but his intangibles all over the court, on both ends, are what will set him apart in the NBA from a lot of other rookies. I will not be surprised to see Rui make an NBA All-Rookie team.

Rookie Prediction

There is a solid chance Hachimura could start at small forward from day one in Detroit. If so, he’d fit right into the small forward version of a Thaddeus Young role. Not many plays will be created for him, but he’ll find a way to get his, alongside Griffin, Jackson, and Drummond.

Projected Stats, Per Game: 28.9 minutes, 12.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.8 blocks. My predictions for his rookie shooting percentages: 48.5 percent from the field, 34.1 percent from three, and 76.8 percent from the free throw stripe.