Tonight’s draft promises to be very unpredictable. Teams are blowing up phone lines trying to switch spots so that they can land their man, and this is an ever-increasing trend in the NBA. In fact, in the 1990s there were only 5.2 traded picks on draft day. Today, that number has risen to a remarkable 13.4.
Unfortunately, the Pistons have only taken part in TWO draft day deal since Joe Dumars has taken over the General Manager position. In 2008 the Pistons selected DJ White on behalf of the then Super Sonics at #29 in exchange for the 32nd and 46th picks. As I detailed in an earlier rant, this was not a wise move as Detroit selected Walter Sharpe and Trent Plaisted, both who never amounted to a damn thing in the NBA. In 2009 the Pistons selected GF Chase Budinger for the Houston Rockets in exchange for future 2nd rounders.
On draft night Joe and the Pistons usually just set their sights on a small set of players and select their BPA, according to their draft board, when the time comes. They haven’t been shown to react to players who have inexplicably slipped in the draft, either by trading up or into the draft to select a targeted player or trading with another team so that they can land said slider. The NBA Draft can be like a game, wherein you win by getting the most value out of your picks, and sometimes you can manipulate other teams into surrendering value. Chase Budinger was one instance of this, yet the Houston Rockets had to contact Joe Dumars and indicate their interest.
Forgive the shitty picture quality, but it hasn’t appeared that Joe has been as aggressive as he was in the early 2000s (when the pic was snapped) or taken the initiative to find deals that will shrewdly benefit the Pistons.
NBA draft picks do have a cap hold against the salary cap, but do not require matching salaries to be traded away. This makes it possible for teams to purchase draft picks for $$$, up to 3 million per. The Pistons have never purchased a draft pick outright, or even with the addition of a present or future draft pick. Other teams have been much more proactive, and in 2009 cash was involved in the acquisition of no less than four draft picks, and the exchange of future picks was featured in three trades. In 2008 there was more of the same, as five more deals involving the movement of cash and/or future draft picks were seen. Many players were had or could have been taken at these draft slots, and many would have been of great aid to Detroit, such as Mario Chalmers, Goran Dragic, Ramon Sessions, Eric Bledsoe, and more.
Joe built a championship team via trades, acquiring Ben Wallace and Chucky Atkins for Grant Hill, Rasheed Wallace from Atlanta for a bunch of scubs, and Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse. Now we find ourselves building our roster via the draft, with Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey and Austin Daye and Jonas Jerebko set to make a big impact next season, along with whomever we select tonight. Dumars would be wise to combine both of those philosophies and make deals to land coveted prospects as we continue along the rebuilding process.
For this reason, I do not foresee us trading up to land a top prospect, nor do I see us snagging a can’t-miss prospect unless the Pistons were targeting him from the get-go. If we do trade down, expect it to be for a name we’ve been linked to for a while, as the Pistons tend to make their desires more available than they ought to. New owner Tom Gores may provide the front office with a looser leash than seen under William Davidson’s ownership, which would give Dumars few excuses to not fix the team by the end of the three year window he’s been allotted.