On Tuesday, May 21st the NBA will hold its Draft Lottery.
For teams like the Detroit Pistons, this will finally clear up the mystery behind where they will be drafting and shed some light on where they can focus their efforts in scouting the top talent.
By and large, the Pistons probably have their big board set up. They have circled a number of players, watched their performances during the season and conducted interviews.
But nothing is truly in focus before tonight.
What happens if the Pistons win the lottery and are rewarded with one of the top three picks? Does this change their approach?
What if another team jumps past them and they are forced to draft lower than previously expected? Does this change their approach as well?
In anticipation of tonight's Draft Lottery, here is a mock draft that focuses on what the Pistons should and could do in several scenarios.
No.1 overall pick-Ben McLemore, G-Kansas
Obviously this is the ideal spot for the Pistons to land. Beyond the obvious that they will be getting the first pick, but they also will gain tremendous bargaining power.
Take for instance the Pistons win the top pick and then every other pick falls within the projections. This would leave the Orlando Magic picking second, the Charlotte Bobcats picking third and the Cleveland Cavaliers picking fourth.
Cleveland would really love to get their hands on Nerlens Noel but they know that Orlando will certainly pluck him up at No. 2.
The Pistons could choose to trade down to the fourth overall pick and gain Cleveland's second first rounder, the 19th overall selection.
Detroit could then draft Trey Burke with the fourth pick and grab a wing at No. 19.
Or they could grab Otto Porter at four and grab a shooting guard like Tim Hardaway Jr. at No. 19.
But just staying at the top spot, the Pistons probably would be best suited by grabbing Ben McLemore.
McLemore could develop into a superstar with the right tutelage and coaching. He has a lightning-quick release, outstanding range and amazing athleticism.
He also would be the odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year and would bring excitement to the Palace of Auburn Hills.
No.38 overall pick-Deshaun Thomas, F-Ohio State
Full disclosure, I really do not like the Buckeyes. I bleed maize and blue. But I have seen enough of Deshaun Thomas to know that this kid is a winner.
He can flat-out score, he is a physical presence down low and he plays smart basketball.
He also would be a good character guy to have around.
He is a bit of a 'tweener, but bench guys can be. Ideally, he would fit as a stretch four alongside Andre Drummond coming off the bench.
No.56 overall pick-Peyton Siva, PG-Louisville
Peyton Siva is very undersized for a point guard, but he is incredibly quick and very athletic.
The Pistons likely will be shopping for a backup point guard given that Will Bynum and Jose Calderon are probably going to be too expensive for what the Pistons are asking them to do.
Siva is a low-risk, high-reward type of player. If he pans out, he pans out. If not, no big deal.
No.1 overall pick-Nerlens Noel, PF/C-Kentucky
But wait a second, isn't this the position that the Pistons are set at?
Yes and no. On the one hand, the Pistons have two of the better young big men in the league.
But on the other hand, we don't know for sure if they can play together.
By selecting Nerlens Noel the Pistons would have a few months to figure out if Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond pair well together since Noel probably won't be ready to return until Christmas.
If it turns out that Drummond and Monroe play great together, the Pistons can choose to keep all three and just bring Noel off the bench and ease him along.
If it turns out that Drummond and Monroe can't play well together, this gives the Pistons amazing bargaining power.
They could choose to shop whomever fits least with their plans (probably Monroe) and deal for a wing and/or additional picks.
This also saves the Pistons a ton of money since they will no longer have to worry about paying Monroe a big contract when his rookie salary runs out.
The one worry you have in this is how Noel and Drummond would pair. They are similar players in that they are great defensively and on the boards but are rudimentary on offense. This could lead to a cluttered post on the offensive side of things.
But defensively, they would immediately become very dangerous.
No. 38 overall-Nate Wolters, PG-South Dakota State
Nate Wolters has become one of the darlings of the draft.
Wolters is a smart point guard that can shoot, score and pass incredibly well.
He has excellent size (just under 6'5") and should translate into a very good pro.
He isn't a great athlete and he has short arms, but with their second round picks the Pistons are just looking to add quality depth and good character players. Wolters will be both.
No. 56 overall-Solomon Hill, F-Arizona
Solomon Hill is a 'tweener that will be a lot of help on offense but will be tough to watch on defense.
He can score in the post, has a solid jumper and plays bigger than he looks.
Another good depth pick.
No. 2 overall pick-Trey Burke, PG-Michigan
Okay so this scenario is banking on Ben McLemore going first overall.
If that happens, the Pistons could either decide to deal the second overall pick to someone that is looking to move up (likely Cleveland) or just eliminate all the scheming and draft their point guard of the future.
They also could draft Noel and let the prior scenario play out (see previous slide).
Trey Burke makes a lot of sense here. He would immediately bring excitement back to the Palace.
Burke is a true point guard that plays with fire, passion and precision. He commits few turnovers but still is a great creator. He has tremendous court vision and his game should translate incredibly well at the next level.
Burke could become the Pistons' next great point guard, following in the footsteps of Dave Bing, Isiah Thomas and Chauncey Billups.
This also is how it would probably play out if the Pistons were drafting third overall.
In this event, McLemore and Noel would go one and two and the Pistons could grab Burke as well. It seems unlikely that one of those three players doesn't go in the top two. So if the Pistons are drafting third overall they will have their choice of either Burke, Noel or McLemore.
No. 38 overall pick-C.J. Leslie, F-N.C. State
Leslie saw his stock slide this year, but he should be a quality player at the next level.
Leslie is another low risk/high reward player. He is physically gifted, is slightly thin and possesses a lot of the skills that you want in a forward.
Though 6'9", he likely projects as a small forward at the next level.
There is a real chance that he never realizes his potential but that potential is worth any minimal risk here.
No. 56 overall pick-Erik Murphy, PF-Florida
There is a possibility that the Pistons are going to lose Jason Maxiell this offseason.
Therefore they are going to need to pick up some more interior help up front.
Murphy is big, physical and plays with a mean streak.
He is also slowly developing his offensive game and could eventually be a nice garbage man off the bench.
No.7 overall pick-Victor Oladipo, SG-Indiana
This is the most likely spot that Detroit will be drafting.
If the draft positions played out like they should mathematically there is no likely scenario where Burke is left on the board.
Therefore, the Pistons would be down to their second grouping of potential picks. This includes Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett and Shabazz Muhammad.
Of these four, Porter likely will be off the board already. He is without question the best small forward in this draft and he improved his stock with a solid performance at the pre-draft combine last weekend.
Bennett is an intriguing choice but projects as too much of a 'tweener to be drafted in the high lottery. I like him better as a power forward and the Pistons are still committed to running out a Monroe/Drummond starting lineup up front.
Muhammad is a bit undersized for the small forward spot and I'm not sure he can play shooting guard at the next level.
The Pistons would be very fortunate to get Oladipo here.
He projects to be a better version of Tony Allen at the pro level and could immediately be called upon to be a defensive stopper for Detroit.
Physically, he is a beast. He can jump out of the gym and has a motor that won't quit.
Offensively he is still developing, but the Pistons don't need him to be a savior on that end of the court. If he could develop into a Kawhi Leonard or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist type of player early on, the Pistons would be thrilled.
No. 38 overall pick-Ray McCallum, PG-Detroit
Ray McCallum is a local product that has been thrilling folks for years.
He is a dynamic scorer that probably projects best as a bench point guard.
However the Pistons need depth at the point and McCallum would be a nice pickup.
He sees the court well, plays smart, has good quickness and solid athleticism.
He also shoots well off the dribble, a skill that is so important at the professional level.
No. 56 overall pick-Kenny Kadji, PF-Miami
Kenny Kadji is an intriguing pick for the Pistons.
He could develop into a nice pick and roll option as he has a nice 15-18 foot jumper that could eventually be extended.
He has good size but isn't necessarily overly physical. He also isn't much of an athlete and doesn't possess great quickness.
Kadji is probably going to be only a help on offense and is probably too soft to help much on defense.
But at the 56th pick, what exactly do you expect to get?
No. 8 overall pick-Shabazz Muhammad, SF-UCLA
In this scenario, a team picking behind them moved into one of the top three spots.
We also are going to assume that Burke, Oladipo and Porter are off the board already, leaving the Pistons to choose between Bennett, Muhammad and C.J. McCollum
McCollum is a tempting player for the Pistons, but he reminds me too much of Brandon Knight. He is probably a combo guard and the Pistons have enough combo guards on their roster as it is.
Muhammad likely would be the pick here.
The UCLA product is a tremendous scorer. He can shoot from anywhere on the court, he plays intelligently and has a high motor.
Though not known as an elite athlete, he did flash a nice 37 inch vertical during the pre-draft combine.
The only real knock on Muhammad is his size. He is only about 6'6", which is about two inches shorter than you want your small forward to be. However, he does have a nice 6'11" wingspan though, which should help him compensate.
Defensively, he likely will be average at best. He has good fundamentals, but he just doesn't put forth the effort on that side of the court.
His job, if drafted, would be to score and score often.
This is also the likely scenario should Detroit draft no.9 as well. However, there is virtually no chance that that will be the case as it would involve two teams slated behind the Pistons to win the lottery.
No. 38 overall pick-Myck Kabongo, PG-Texas
The good news for the Pistons is that the second round of the draft will feature plenty of talented point guards to choose from.
Ray McCallum, Nate Wolters and Peyton Siva all should be available.
Myck Kabongo is an intriguing choice.
Once viewed as a potential first round pick, Kabongo was suspended for much of this year and never really got going.
Kabongo is a smart, pass-first point guard that will struggle at the next level to get his own shot.
However he is very quick and solidly athletic if somewhat undersized at about 6'2".
He also is very flashy and could call to mind former Piston Carlos Arroyo with his ability to see the court and look for teammates.
He is a playmaker. Plain and simple.
No. 56 overall pick-Deshaun Thomas, F-Ohio State
As I described in the first scenario, Thomas is a 'tweener that plays hard and can score in a lot of ways.
At this spot, the Pistons just need to add depth and Thomas could be a nice pickup should he fall this far.