Detroit Pistons: Weaver’s First Draft Class No Longer The “Core 4”
The Detroit Pistons first draft class under Troy Weaver is no longer the “core 4” of the rebuild. And that’s a good thing, especially for Killian Hayes, Isaiah Stewart and Saddiq Bey. Three years ago, Weaver was hired as Pistons general manager and set out to restore them to former glory. His conquest began with the team dropping two spots in the 2020 NBA draft, from fifth to seventh.
Despite the drop, fans remained faithfully intrigued with Weaver. And this was the first big test to see what the newly minted GM was really about. For past regimes, this would signal a bad trend to follow. They’ve generally tried to get it right in the draft and commit, whether it be Rodney Stuckey, Andre Drummond, or Stanley Johnson. It wasn’t surprising to see them try to prove draft picks correct, as well as their ability to build a team.
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But Troy Weaver showed early this approach would be different than his predecessors, and more similar to organizations fans have long wished the Pistons would emulate.
He wasted no time acquiring two additional first round picks to bolster the rebuild from the start. I had never seen a Detroit Pistons front office pull of something like this. Weaver proving capable of the job, and deserving of the opportunity to see his vision through.
He wont be perfect, which is where the real test for a GM begins. And in year three, there’s more substance to judge his performance. So seeing players he drafted placed in roles that best fit, was an interesting departure from the norm. Whether a decision worked out or not, past Pistons teams would force fits to work until it broke.
Cover your eyes.
It brings to mind the Josh Smith signing, Andre Drummond max contract, Brandon Knight and more scabs that I refuse to go further into. Ok, here’s another for good measure: The Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon era. I painfully digress and move on.
Would those past regimes move the number seven pick to the bench, and still manage to successfully develop that player? Would they find a way to support Isaiah Stewart in the change from center to stretch-power forward? We saw how that attempt went with Andre Drummond, and it didn’t work. Would they have showed the patience to see what value Saddiq Bey can provide? All with the gumption to make the right call, even if it’s not popular with fans. By the way, Bey is proving a value on the team, as well as in the trade market. If rumors are to be believed.
Whether they hit the intended expectations or not, Weaver has shown he wont walk away empty handed. This too, a departure from prior regimes that would hold on to players until the wheels fell off in utter “Buffoonery”, word to Tayshaun Prince. Or until they just paid the bad decisions to go away. Like during the Josh Smith ‘dead money‘ era.
Detroit should be experimenting with Stewart at the 4, but his best role in the NBA is going to be as an energy big off the bench. He can be elite in that role.
With Killian Hayes, Weaver’s regime wasted no time finding a role for him as lead guard off the bench. Not a banishment, or a departure from an opportunity to grow. But rather a true commitment to player development. Like a basketball program seeking to gain the most out of each and every prospect.
Beef Stew, what fans affectionately call Isaiah Stewart, has shown the ability to have an Al Horford like effect on the game. When drafted, there was a sense he was only a rugged center with the ability to physically out work opponents.
Saddiq Bey has been an iron man and continues to prove versatile. Coach Dwane Casey has made comments all season regarding putting Bey in his best spots to succeed. Stating they’ve “looked at all the data” and it suggests catch and shoot opportunities are his best. His ability to get into the paint and finish at the rim, or draw fouls has been another good development for a player some observers thought would be just a three point shooter.
Let Weaver Cook
The front office figuring where players best fit, hasn’t slowed the asset acquisition process. Which has been another difference between Weaver and past rebuilds. He hasn’t been bashful about drafting the best player available. Even if they play the same position of past picks.
Weaver hitting on star Cade Cunningham, and rookie dynamic duo Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren has been the biggest reasons why the core has changed. A better word to use, may be ‘expanded’.
He drafted guards with the top selection in each of his drafts. First Hayes, followed by Cunningham and then Ivey. Then drafted big man Jalen Duren despite having PF/C Isaiah Stewart entering year three. And Weaver had just signed C Marvin Bagley to a new 3-year extension.
So clearly that didn’t stop Weaver’s flow, it’s just how he works. The restoration is more than learning from past Pistons winners., but for Weaver it includes his time in the Oklahoma City Thunder front office. They had success but couldn’t achieve the ultimate goal of a championship, failing to keep their top draft picks together, or obtain true equal value in return. The Thunder did get good hauls, but how much better would it have been to retain James Harden?
Despite Weaver’s first draft class no longer the unquestioned starters, they still hold value to the rebuilds foundation. They understand the culture, the terminology, and what is expected on a night by night basis. Proving to be players able to keep the vets on the bench, while being a source of support for the restoration. Even if it’s for players that ultimately start in front of them.
When it doesn’t make sense in the moment, Troy Weaver’s work is art that should’t be judged until finished.
The Pistons plays the Washington Wizards, Wednesday, February 1 at 7:00 PM.
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