With three picks in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons added more young players to a roster suddenly stocked with under-25 talent.
Drafting at No. 8 was familiar territory for the Pistons, who have drafted between Nos. 7 and 9 now in four consecutive drafts.
The three previous drafts were quite successful for them. They found starter-quality big men Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in 2010 and 2012, respectively. 2011's selection, combo guard Brandon Knight, averaged over 13 points per game this season at just 21 years old.
Any time a team finds itself in the lottery, it is important to draft effectively. That is especially true in Detroit, a city not exactly known as a top free-agent destination.
No. 8: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG, Georgia
The Pistons went an unexpected route with the No. 8 pick when they selected shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Leading up to draft night, the general thinking around the NBA was that the Pistons were looking to address the point guard position with their first-round pick, with Brandon Knight expected to move to 2-guard full time in 2013-14.
In his fifth mock draft, ESPN Insider Chad Ford (subscription) summed up those expectations:
The team believes Brandon Knight is more suited to play the 2 and would like to bring in a "pure" point guard to run the team.
Instead of choosing between Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. McCollum, they added one of the top shooters available in Caldwell-Pope.
The 20-year-old shot 37.3 percent from long range on seven attempts per game as a sophomore, despite being Georgia's only real offensive threat (no other player averaged even eight points per game). He also showed some ability to get to the rim, averaging over over five free-throw attempts.
He has shown promise on the defensive end as well, ranking third in the SEC with two steals per game. And despite being just 6'5", he averaged 7.1 rebounds per contest, seventh in the conference.
As a whole, Caldwell-Pope looks like he can be the long-term answer on the wing for the Pistons. He will be able to score in the NBA from day one, and his ability to shoot will certainly help spread the floor for Monroe and Drummond down low. He should also be a positive player on the defensive end once he adapts to the speed of the NBA game.
The issue with the pick will be deciding what to do with Knight and their point guard position. He was at his best last season when playing next to Jose Calderon, a pass-first lead guard. Some have suggested moving him to the role of sixth man, where he could operate as a source of instant offense and the team's second ball-handler.
That would still leave the Pistons with the problem of finding a starting point guard. They will have plenty of cap space for free agency, but, beyond Chris Paul, this is not a great class for point guards. Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague are intriguing, but both are restricted free agents, and their teams can choose to match any offer by another team.
The Pistons may have to give Knight another shot at point guard, if only because there aren't many other options available.
Caldwell-Pope has good value at No. 8, and drafting him has solidified a third position for the Pistons. It can't get top marks, though, because it raises as many questions for them as it answers.
Pick Grade: B
No. 37: Tony Mitchell, PF, North Texas
With their first pick in the second round, the Pistons drafted a high-upside player, Tony Mitchell from North Texas.
The 6'9" forward rated as one of the best athletes in the draft. Not only did he show off a 38" maximum vertical at the pre-draft combine, but he runs the court very well for a big man.
With that athleticism, he averaged 10.3 rebounds and three blocks as a sophomore. With the right coaching and some discipline, he has the potential to defend three positions at a high level.
Mitchell comes to the NBA raw offensively. He averaged 14.7 points per game, but he averaged 2.8 turnovers per game. He was also playing against weak competition in the Sun Belt–North Texas' toughest game all season was against Creighton.
He did improve all of his shooting numbers from his freshman to sophomore season, so there is reason to believe he can become at least a decent offensive player in the NBA. It just won't happen right away.
Depending on what the Pistons do in free agency, Mitchell could see a decent amount of playing time as a rookie. His athleticism would be a great change of pace off the bench behind Monroe.
Early in the second round, Mitchell is a strong pick for the Pistons. While he's a project player, he had the talent to be a first-round pick. If Mo Cheeks develops him the right way, they may have found a steal.
Pick Grade: A-
No. 56: Peyton Siva, PG, Louisville
At the end of the second round, the Pistons used their final draft choice (from the Clippers) to select Louisville point guard Peyton Siva.
One of the leaders of the 2013 NCAA National Championship team, Siva will have a chance to make the Pistons roster as a defensive specialist and good locker room guy.
As a senior he averaged 2.3 steals per game in coach Rick Pitino's high-pressure system. He measured just 5'11.5" without shoes at the combine, but he has the quickness to stay in front of most guards. Defensively he could develop into a smaller version of Lindsey Hunter.
The reason Siva was drafted so late is because he really has no outside game. He shot under 30 percent from the arc in each of his final three seasons at Louisville, and never averaged over 10 points per game.
With a young roster and four unrestricted free agents, there's a very good chance Siva plays with Detroit this season, although he will see very limited action. Getting a player who can come in at the end of games as a defensive sub so late in the draft was a solid choice for the Pistons.
Pick Grade: B+