The Detroit Pistons are looking to improve their center situation this summer, and it appears they have a backup plan if they can't land coveted prospect Chet Holmgren in the 2022 NBA draft.
The Pistons are expected to pursue New York Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson if they miss out on Holmgren, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. The Pistons hold the fifth overall pick in this year's draft.
In his freshman season at Gonzaga, Holmgren averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 3.7 blocks per game while shooting 60.7 percent from the floor and 39.0 percent from deep. He was a consensus All-American and was named the WCC Rookie of the Year.
The 20-year-old is widely expected to be selected within the first three picks of the 2022 draft and could go as high as first overall to the Orlando Magic, which means the Pistons will almost certainly miss out on him.
The Athletic's Sam Vecenie and John Hollinger also reported this week that the Magic "are leaning toward" drafting Holmgren first overall, so Detroit shifting focus to Robinson makes a lot of sense.
The Pistons already expressed interest in the 2018 second-round pick at the 2022 trade deadline in February, but a deal was never reached because the Knicks wanted Isaiah Stewart in return and the franchise wasn't willing to part with him, Berman reported at the time.
Robinson, who is set to be an unrestricted free agent, has spent the first four seasons of his career in New York and impressed as the Knicks' starting center during the 2021-22 campaign. He averaged 8.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game while shooting 76.1 percent from the floor.
The 24-year-old would also be a more athletic upgrade over Stewart, who started at center for the Pistons this season. Stewart averaged 8.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 51.0 percent from the floor.
That said, the Pistons could use both players interchangeably, which would make both their first and second units difficult to play against in the paint.
It's unclear what the Pistons plan to do with the No. 5 pick, but Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith Jr. are expected to be off the board by the time they're on the clock. AJ Griffin, Keegan Murray and Jaden Ivey should be available.