With the 2016 NBA Draft being tonight, there is plenty of intrigue surrounding the teams and players. While this draft may not be remembered for being the most talented, there is still plenty of opportunity for teams to improve.
One team in particular that is a piece or two from contending is the Detroit Pistons. Fresh from making the playoffs for the first time since 2009, coach Stan Van Gundy has his team in place to become a real threat in the Eastern Conference. Could this piece come from the draft? Potentially. But the Pistons will still look to improve with free agency looming. With that being said, Detroit will be serious with their pick, and should not be looking for a player that will be a project. They are in a win-now mentality, and should draft accordingly.
The Pistons have two ways they can go with this pick. They could pick a player who can produce off the bench, or trade it for a veteran that puts them in top-four contention for the Eastern Conference title. Unless a viable trade comes along, the Pistons will go through with the pick.
Draft Prediction: Tyler Ulis out of Kentucky
Ulis may be small at 5-foot-8, but he is as fundamentally sound as any player in this draft. He averaged 17 points and seven assists in his time with the Wildcats, pairing that up with a 48 percent shooting from the field and 85% from the free throw line. Ulis excels in the pick-and-roll, which the Pistons love to use with starting point guard Reggie Jackson and center Andre Drummond. Ulis had great coaching in a program that churns out NBA prospects, and would do great under Van Gundy. Finally, the kid knows how to win. He was apart of 65 victories in two years at Kentucky. That mentality will work to everyone’s advantage on a Pistons team that is win-now.
As for the Michigan State players in this draft class, forward Deyonta Davis and guard/forward Denzel Valentine will be hoping to hear their names called early tonight. Both could be lottery picks, but the range of picks where each could land is different for each player.
Davis declaring for the draft was a bit of a surprise, but it makes sense for him as his draft ceiling is high. As of now, many mock drafts have him being selected in the lottery. He could go anywhere from No. 10 to the Milwaukee Bucks, to the Denver Nuggets at No. 15. His athleticism and potential are what teams will bank on, and hope he develops fully into the flashes of domination he showed at Michigan State.
With all that in mind, the Milwaukee Bucks will most likely be the team that sees Davis as their future big man. With current forward Greg Monroe potentially leaving in free agency, the Bucks will need someone to step in a fill that role. If Monroe does leave, Davis will get big minutes for a rookie because the Bucks do not have great depth at center or small forward, barring a free agent signing.
As for the AP Player of the Year, Valentine could be waiting a little longer than Davis to hear his name. The heralded Spartan might be selected as early as No. 11 to the Orlando Magic, or as late as No. 21 to the Atlanta Hawks. Many teams are saying Valentine’s potential knee problems scare them off, and this could lead to his drop.
Valentine may have to wait longer than Davis to get selected, but at No. 17 the former Spartan great fit with the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis needs a three-point shooter, and Valentine can provide that in bunches. He is also capable of handling the ball, which could be of more importance with Mike Conley potentially leaving in free agency.