The 2022 NBA Draft is just four days away. By all accounts, this year’s draft will be just as unpredictable as any other. For the Detroit Pistons picking at fifth overall, this unpredictability could end up being a blessing or a curse.

The consensus projected top three are Jabari Smith to the Orlando Magic, Chet Holmgren to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paolo Banchero to the Houston Rockets. However, even those picks are not set in stone, as a shadow of a doubt remains.

Where things really get interesting is the Sacramento Kings’ selection at fourth overall. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that multiple teams are interested in trading up with Sacramento for the fourth pick. One of those reported teams is the Pistons.

Besides Detroit, the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards have also expressed interest in moving up to the fourth pick. Presumably, those teams are interested in acquiring Purdue’s Jaden Ivey with the fourth pick. Wojnarowski also noted the Kings’ asking price is “significant”.

Trading down makes sense for the Kings. Team owner Vivek Ranadivé reportedly covets Iowa forward Keegan Murray. A trade with either the Pistons or the Pacers could conceivably position Sacramento to land Murray while also obtaining more assets. Trading with the Knicks or Wizards makes selecting Murray a bit more difficult.

Pistons’ GM Troy Weaver is unlikely to trade significant assets to move up a single spot in the draft. Unless he believes Ivey is a superstar in the making, there is no reason to sacrifice future picks or key players. There are other prospects on the board Weaver would be happy with at the fifth pick, including Murray.

In this mock draft, I ran through three different scenarios the Pistons could encounter on draft day.

Scenario one: The Pistons trade up to the fourth pick

No. 1 Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, F, Auburn

No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga

No. 3 Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, F, Duke

No. 4 Detroit Pistons (via Sacramento Kings): Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue

No. 5 Sacramento Kings (via Detroit Pistons): Keegan Murray, F, Iowa

The only reason Weaver and the Pistons’ front office trade up with the Kings is to avoid another team jumping in front of them to take their guy. Assuming Wojnarowski’s report is correct, that guy is Ivey.

Obviously, this trade starts by swapping the fourth and fifth picks. Detroit would likely have to include a future first-rounder and a player. It is hard to see Jerami Grant involved in a potential deal. His value is worth more than simply moving up a single draft slot. Maybe Killian Hayes is the piece that gets it done. Otherwise, Hamidou Diallo or Frank Jackson could also be options.

The fact is, a trading up is less than ideal for Detroit. The team would have to give up too much just to move up one spot, especially with competitors vying for the selection. For any potential trade to occur, Weaver has to be convinced Ivey is the real deal, a future star to pair with Cunningham for the next decade-plus.

Ivey could be that guy. He has an explosive first step, and he gets to the basket with ease. He has a knack for finishing around the rim, even from tough angles. His shot needs work, but his mechanics are not broken. Defensively, he can be a plus-defender when locked in, but he needs to work on his focus and discipline. When he forces turnovers, he is a spectacle in transition. Oh, and he has the makings of a decent playmaker too.

If Ivey is the guy in this draft, pull the trigger on a trade. Weaver has shown a knack for making deals without stripping away his own assets. If Ivey is just the top of a tight draft board, Weaver will be fine staying put at the fifth pick.

Detroit is the best trade partner for the Kings

The Kings make out well in this trade. They get the guy they want in Murray, and they potentially get future draft capital and/or players to put around De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. The Pistons are the best trade partner for Sacramento because it guarantees they land Murray. If they trade with any other team, the team has to hope the Iowa product falls to them. Of course, other teams may be willing to put together a bigger trade package than Weaver is for the fourth pick.

Scenario two: Another team jumps the Pistons for Ivey

No. 1 Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, F, Auburn

No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga

No. 3 Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, F, Duke

No. 4 Washington Wizards (via Sacramento Kings): Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue

No. 5 Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, F, Iowa

In this scenario, I have the Wizards trading up with the Kings to land the fourth pick. I chose Washington because I think they have some of the most intriguing trade pieces to offer of the teams mentioned in Wojnarowski’s report.

Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Cory Kispert are all wings that the Kings could have an interest in acquiring. Murray will be off the board by the time Sacramento drafts with the 10th overall selection from Washington. If it were the Knicks Obi Toppin and Cam Reddish could be potential pieces in a trade-up.

Ivey is off the board when Detroit picks at five. Maybe he was the guy Weaver wanted, maybe he was not. Staying put at the fifth pick, Weaver and the front office take Murray. This selection sets the team up to trade away Grant to hopefully land another lottery pick in this year’s draft. If Grant is moved, Murray easily slots into the starting power forward spot.

Murray is a high-floor prospect. He should offer a lot of the same traits early on in his career that Grant possessed. He is on the older side at 21 years old. There is room for improvement. He needs to work on his handle and creating for himself. Murray often gets pushed off his line on drives. He works well as an off-ball shooter. Iowa utilized him running off screens and in pick-and-pops. He is a solid team defender who makes the most of his length.

There is a chance that Weaver still got his guy if the draft plays out as this scenario has. The team has consistently been reported to have a serious interest in the Iowa forward.

Scenario three: Both Sacramento and Detroit stay put at picks four and five

No. 1 Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, F, Auburn

No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga

No. 3 Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, F, Duke

No. 4 Sacramento Kings: Keegan Murray, F, Iowa

No. 5 Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue

If Murray is Ranadivé’s guy, it makes the most sense for the Kings to stay put at the fourth pick. It is the only way to guarantee the 21-year-old comes to Sacramento unless the team swaps with Detroit. The Pistons have little need to swap picks, they can take Murray at five and be content doing so.

If Sacramento is expecting “significant” compensation for the fourth pick, they may be out of luck. The Pistons are unlikely to offer a lucrative trade package. Other teams might not want to part with much more than their pick and a player. The Kings’ definition of “significant” will be the key factor in any potential trade.

Of course, the Kings could also be the Kings and mishandle the whole situation as they normally do.

In this scenario, the Kings do not risk missing out on Murray. Likewise, Detroit does not have to do any moving to land Ivey. It is the simplest solution, but it guarantees both teams get what they want.

(Featured Image Credit: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

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By Published On: June 20th, 2022Categories: Detroit Sports, NBA

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