While more than half the league is gearing up for a 2021 NBA playoffs matchup, the Detroit Pistons and about a dozen other teams have their sights squarely set on the the lottery in June and the draft in July.
Even though the balls don’t start popping for another four weeks, prognosticators are already sketching out their ideas of the 2021 NBA draft with Detroit picking second. The Pistons had the second-worst record in the association this season, giving them a 14% shot at the top pick and a 52.1% chance at a top-four pick. Only the Houston Rockets won fewer games, giving them the best odds at consensus No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State.
Some mock drafts published this week have USC’s Evan Mobley as the selection at No. 2. Mobley won Pac-12 Player of the Year, Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year while leading the Trojans to the NCAA tournament.
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Mobley, a 7-foot big man, averaged 16.4 points on 57.8% shooting from the field and 8.7 rebounds in 33 games as a freshman. He also shot 30% from 3-point range, which gives organizations some hope he could become league average or better in that department. A reported 7-5 wingspan gives him a very high floor as a plus defender in the NBA as well.
Other analysts think the Pistons would take Jalen Green, an explosive 6-foot-5 guard, if they get the No. 2 pick. Green chose the G League’s Ignite instead of NCAA basketball and averaged a team-high 17.9 points on 36.5% shooting from 3 and 46.1% shooting overall as a pro.
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The Pistons cannot fall below pick No. 6 and have three picks in the second round as well.
More from the draft experts:
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony: Evan Mobley
The ESPN draft guru wrote Friday the Pistons will likely take the best player available regardless of fit, and, even at No. 2, Mobley just might be that guy.
“Mobley’s mobility, perimeter skill and defensive versatility give him All-Star potential, and his selfless style of play will make him easy to integrate into many different lineup configurations — including those with promising rookie big man Isaiah Stewart — as his lanky frame fills out.”
CBS’s Kyle Boone: Evan Mobley
Boone ranks Mobley as the No. 3 prospect in the draft — behind Cunningham and Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga — but pick No. 2. He said Mobley’s size would be a nice addition to a strong first draft class for Troy Weaver that included Stewart, Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey.
“(Mobley’s) shot-blocking, length, mobility and long-term potential have him as the top big in this draft with room to develop into an All-Star as his game grows.”
FanSided’s Ian Levy: Jalen Green (No. 5)
The folks at FanSided used a tankathon.com simulator and, in line with history, saw the Pistons receive a worse pick via the lottery. Levy lauded the Hayes pick from a year ago and opines that Green could be a nice fit with the Pistons’ young core.
“Falling to No. 5 would be a major disappointment in some ways, but Green is an elite athletic talent who could both play with Hayes and grow into a potential star on the wing to anchor the rebuild. He’s explosive in transition and attacking the basket, although he still needs refinement with his handle and pull-up shooting to really grow into a complete three-level scorer.”
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman: Jalen Green
Wasserman on Monday wrote that Mobley’s two-way potential makes him hard to pass, but Green’s ability as a backcourt shot-creator may be more valuable to this current roster. Scouts were impressed, Wasserman reports, with Green’s improved 3-point shooting, ball-handling and one-on-one game during his time with the G League’s Ignite.
“Aside from Cade Cunningham, Green represents the most seamless fit for the lineup that Detroit has started building, while recent draft history warns teams about passing on elite guards and wings for bigs with a top-three pick. Unless Detroit is convinced Mobley is another Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid or Anthony Davis, heavy confidence in Green’s scoring ability translating could tip the scale in his favor.”
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: NBA mock draft: Detroit Pistons take Evan Mobley — or Jalen Green