NBA Draft 2013: 5 Players Detroit Pistons Should Target at No. 8

Jay WierengaCorrespondent IMay 22, 2013

NBA Draft 2013: 5 Players Detroit Pistons Should Target at No. 8

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    Never fear Detroit Pistons fans, your favorite optimist is here to remove some of the gloom brought on by the NBA Draft Lottery.

    Sure, it was yet another disappointing turn for Detroit. Fate bucked the odds yet again and the Pistons were on the losing end of it. This time, a team that had even slimmer odds for moving up, the Washington Wizards, leapfrogged Detroit and will pick third overall.

    Never mind that there are several players that would help Detroit that they could have picked at that spot. That's in the past.

    So barring a trade or a significant slip, we can put names like Ben McLemore, Trey Burke, Otto Porter and even Victor Oladipo out of our collective minds.

    That's just the way life goes sometimes.

    But onward and upward 'Stones Nation!

    Here are five players that the Pistons could and should target with the eighth overall pick.

Shabazz Muhammad, G/F-UCLA

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    Nobody has seen their draft stock slip quite like Shabazz Muhammad.

    Does this sound familiar?

    Prior to his freshman year, many thought he could be the first overall pick and perhaps had the most talent in his draft class.

    Now this has to sound awfully familiar.

    Two years ago, Brandon Knight was viewed by almost everyone around the league as a sure-fire top three pick. However, he slipped to the Pistons.

    Last year, Andre Drummond was viewed as the biggest gamble in the draft. I personally had mixed feelings. I loved his athleticism and size, but I was worried that he seemed to vanish in college and too often played smaller than he was.

    But heading into college, he was viewed as a potential number one overall pick.

    We can argue all day about whether or not Knight is panning out, but the Drummond pick certainly looks like an inspired one.

    Now we turn to Muhammad.

    The talented swingman is known for one thing above all, he can score. He can shoot lights out, he has a nice post game for a wing and he has a great motor.

    The questions that should be posed revolve around how his game fits at the next level. Is he going to be a shooting guard or a small forward? Can he create his own shot against more athletic wings? Can he develop into a solid passer?

    For Detroit, their best player to compare Muhammad to in terms of hopes and aspirations would be Harrison Barnes.

    Barnes was similarly highly touted coming into college. He also had a somewhat disappointing freshman year in which questions arose about his athleticism and whether or not he could get off his own shot.

    And though he had his ups and downs as a rookie, his true colors came out during the playoffs. He emerged as a genuine rising star, averaging over 16 points per game to go along with over six rebounds.

    Muhammad has the benefit of being a less passive player who would be entering a team without a go-to scorer. Therefore, his learning curve should be substantially smaller than Barnes.

    Muhammad is perhaps the best fit for the Pistons at No. 8.

Anthony Bennett, F-UNLV

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    Anthony Bennett may be the most intriguing prospect in this year's draft.

    To some, he is an undersized 'tweener that could get gobbled up at the next level.

    To others, he is just another incarnation of the new breed of NBA power forwards.

    Let's focus on what we have seen from Bennett.

    He is long (7'1" wingspan), athletic and has an NBA body (6'8", 240lbs). He has excellent range on his jumper (38 percent from deep), he can take his man to the hoop and he is a physical low post scorer.

    But what exactly does he project to be at the next level? Is he a small forward or a power forward?

    Personally, I don't see Bennett playing the three. That being said, the current NBA is blurring the lines between the three and the four so it doesn't really matter what his label is.

    The real question is whether or not his skills translate to the next level and how he would fit in Detroit.

    Bennett showed way too much talent to be a fluke. He is going to have a very good NBA career, perhaps becoming someone like Charles Oakley or Larry Johnson.

    I also like the idea of pairing him with Andre Drummond up front.

    If the Pistons draft Bennett, they can try two things. Either they can bring him off the bench as a first big man and see how he works alongside Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond or they can try him as a big small forward and see if they can keep all three big men on the floor together. 

    Personally, I think that if the Pistons draft Bennett it will turn into a tryout. The ideal situation would be that they take their time and figure out if he and Drummond are indeed a good fit. If so, they can deal Monroe and perhaps pick up a stud small forward.

    Would a team like the Charlotte Bobcats consider dealing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist for Monroe? If they aren't able to secure a big man in the draft and instead grab a wing like Otto Porter this becomes a real possibility.

Cody Zeller, PF/C-Indiana

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    In today's Detroit Free Press, Drew Sharp floated an interesting idea. He says the Pistons should draft Cody Zeller and then deal Greg Monroe.

    First off, I am not always a fan of Sharp. I don't always see eye to eye with most columnists but I find myself typically at odds with Sharp's articles.

    But this idea actually has some merit.

    First, let's focus on the reasons to trade Monroe. I have been pushing this as a possibility for months now, to varied responses that run the gamut from histrionics to outright criticism.

    But the bottom line is that he is the Pistons' most solid trading chip. He has garnered a reputation as one of the league's best young centers and Detroit isn't exactly clear on whether he and Drummond can play together. He also is entering the final year of his rookie contract and certainly will be due for a substantial raise.

    Could he fetch a max contract? Who knows? But look at someone with a similar skill set and age. Roy Hibbert entered restricted free agency a couple years ago and the Indiana Pacers were forced to hand him a contract that will pay him on average about $14.5 million per season.

    Monroe could certainly get paid something in this neighborhood. But is he worth it?

    I personally think that Monroe is nearing his ceiling. He isn't going to get more athletic and though he is big, he is not a physical defender. In a lot of ways he is like J.J. Hickson. He can score down low and grab rebounds but he won't provide much resistance down low.

    But is Zeller the right fit for Detroit?

    Sure, he is incredibly athletic, he is a smart player and he has nice touch on his jumper. He would give the Pistons perhaps the most athletic big man duo in the league.

    But questions about his strength and physicality at the next level should not be discounted.

    If Zeller and Bennett are both on the board when the Pistons are on the clock, they should really go with Bennett. He has a much higher ceiling, with all apologies to Mr. Sharp.

C.J. McCollum, G-Lehigh

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    I know what you're thinking. Why would the Pistons target yet another combo guard? Don't they have enough of them?

    Well, yes, they do. Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey and even Will Bynum are each non-traditional guards that are neither pure point guards nor pure off guards.

    But C.J. McCollum is a special player.

    This is a player that can get his shot off at will, can penetrate like few others in the college ranks and has a natural ability to score the basketball.

    That being said, he is not likely to become the Pistons point guard of the future. If you ask around, the Pistons are still hopeful that Brandon Knight can take on that role.

    So where would McCollum fit?

    Most pundits believe that this draft is short on star power but long on depth. That is basically where McCollum would fit. He would step in and become the Pistons' sixth man. He would be counted on to contribute instant offense off the bench. 

    Obviously it is difficult for a bad team like the Pistons to invest a lottery pick on a player they are expecting to become a bench player, but at this point they need to roll with the punches and adapt to their scenario.

    If they can't get a game-changing big man talent like Bennett or a special wing like Muhammad, they are going to have to have a backup plan.

    McCollum could be a solid backup plan.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG-Georgia

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    The Pistons have two major needs depending on what they believe Brandon Knight is going forward.

    They need to improve at both the wing positions and desperately.

    They need more athleticism, size and defense at the two and three spots.

    Enter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The guy with the funny name has already distinguished himself as one of the best defensive wings in this draft.

    He has good size (6'6") is an excellent athlete and features tremendous range on his jumper.

    The problem is that there are questions about his ceiling. He doesn't handle the ball particularly well and while he is an explosive leaper he didn't always showcase this in college. 

    That being said, he could fall right into the Pistons' laps at the No. 8 pick. The question is whether or not he has enough of a ceiling to warrant this pick. Is he a starter at the next level? And given Knight's difficulty in creating for teammates, would Caldwell-Pope be set up for failure in the Pistons offense?