If the Detroit Pistons make their selection at fifth overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, there already appears to be a general consensus on which guys are likely to be taken. Villanova’s Cam Whitmore and Houston’s Jarace Walker are two players most expect to be topping the Pistons’ draft board. With the top three selections in the 2023 draft practically set, the Pistons are just waiting to see what the Houston Rockets do at fourth overall to make their decision.
However, Detroit selecting at pick No. 5 is far from a guarantee. General manager Troy Weaver has stated he would listen to trade offers for the pick, and that the team would consider trading back. It is easy to envision a team trading up with Detroit if that team is in love with a high-ceiling prospect like Whitmore or Amen Thompson. How far Detroit is willing to trade back is another issue entirely. Weaver likely will not want to fall back too far. The Pistons are in need of top talents, and it is likely he tries to stay in the top 10 if he trades back.
Ausar Thompson is one potential target if the team trades out of the fifth pick. Thompson could potentially be available at pick No. 7 through 10. For a team that needs shooting and defense, UCF’s Taylor Hendricks could be the ideal prospect to target in a trade back.
Hendricks played well as a one-and-done player at UCF. He averaged 15.1 points, seven rebounds and 1.7 blocks during his lone collegiate season. He may not have the upside of Whitmore or Walker, but Hendricks projects to be at worst, a reliable three-and-D player at the NBA level.
Taylor Hendricks provides defensive versatility that the Detroit Pistons need
In a draft class full of good defensive prospects, Hendricks stands out due to his versatility. The 6-foot-9, 214-pound forward offers the ability to guard nearly every position on a basketball court. He possesses good size and length to guard big men in the post, his length and athleticism allows him to consistently defend wings, and he moves well in space allowing him to hold his own against guards.
In the paint, Hendricks serves well as a help side defender. He utilizes his length and athletic ability to get vertical on shot attempts. His timing on block attempts is sound, and his long wingspan is a deterrent to some shooters from making attempts at the rim. Hendricks rotates well and has good situational awareness, knowing when to go for a block and when to box out.
On the perimeter, Hendricks closes out well. He does not recklessly jump at pump fakes. Hendricks has fluid hips and feet which allow him to stay in front of ball-handlers, and he cuts off driving lanes with ease. He uses his wingspan and instincts to cut off passes and start a fast break in transition.
In Detroit, the Pistons could throw Hendricks anywhere on the court defensively, and the 19-year-old would find a way to make an impact.
Taylor Hendricks has a limited offensive game
One area where Hendricks thrives on offense is three-point shooting. He shot 39.4 percent in the 2022-23 season. He was able to make open threes and contested threes at similar rates as well. His shot mechanics are good enough, although his lower half could use some tuning up. But as a catch-and-shoot three-point shooter, he will instantly be an impact player on offense.
Outside of three-point shooting, Hendricks is a work in progress. He has the athletic tools to be a well-rounded offensive player. He has the verticality to be a lob threat in the pick-and-roll. Hendricks has good instincts as a cutter, and he runs well in transition. However, he just has not put things together outside of shooting yet.
Hendricks does not create for himself particularly well, and his handle is average at best. He needs experience creating for others, and he lacks high-level decision-making. His touch around the rim is particularly in need of improvement. Hendricks shot 40 percent on layups in halfcourt sets in 2022-23.
He is 19, and he only spent one year in college. The fact that he is still a work in progress offensively is not particularly surprising. Not every aspect of Hendrick’s offensive game is going to grow into a strength, but he should make strides in some areas.
Taylor Hendricks’ potential fit on the Detroit Pistons
On paper, Hendricks has the build of a power forward in today’s NBA. However, it is easy to see him playing well at small forward as well. A frontcourt of Hendricks, Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart would be intriguing from a defensive standpoint. His floor spacing ability provides more room for Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey to attack the basket as well.
Hendricks is unlikely to ever become a star in the NBA, but Detroit is in need of reliable three-and-D players. If he finds his way to the Motor City, Hendricks could be a reliable glue guy for the Pistons.
For more from the author, Thomas Chavez, check him out on Twitter here: @tlchavez43
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