Since the century mark, the Detroit Pistons haven’t drafted all that well. They only drafted one of their starters on the 2004 NBA Champions, and after making eight straight playoff appearances from 2001-02 to 2008-09, Detroit didn’t return until last year, when the Cleveland Cavaliers swept them.
In retrospect, the Pistons have done a nice job finding of talent in the second round. But some of the prospects they’ve drafted failed to realize their potential in Detroit. Khris Middleton, Mehmet Okur and even Amir Johnson to a lesser extent all went on to have better careers in other places as second round picks.
Who are the Pistons top draft picks since the century mark?
Honorable mention: Greg Monroe (Rd 1, pick 7 in 2010), Amir Johnson (Rd 2, pick 56 in 2005), Stanley Johnson (Rd 1, pick 8 in 2015), Brandon Knight (Rd 1, pick 8 in 2011), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (Rd 1, pick 8 in 2013), Rodney Stuckey (Rd 1, pick 15 in 2007)
5. Arron Afflalo (Rd 1, pick 27 in 2007)
Career Stats: 11.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, (38.5 career 3p%)
This spot is pretty debatable, as you could make an argument for a number of the honorable mentions here. But Afflalo has had a solid career as a three-and-d’ swingman after being traded away after his first two seasons in Detroit and has managed to remain effective (12.8 ppg on 38.2 percent from three last year) despite recently turning 31. He’s the definition of consistency.
Afflalo had a rough rookie season for the Pistons (3.7 ppg on 20.8 percent from deep in 12.9 mpg) and followed it up with a much-improved sophomore campaign (4.9 ppg on 40.2 percent from deep), but apparently didn’t show enough for Detroit to keep him. In retrospect, the fact that Denver offered only a second round pick for Afflalo alongside no-name big man Walter Sharpe is kind of crazy.
4. Mehmet Okur (Rd 2, pick 37 in 2001)
Career Stats: 13.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 1.7 apg, (37.5 career 3p%)
Okur was a second-round pick out of Turkey when he arrived in Detroit, and after two seasons with the team, the Pistons were unable to sign him long-term due to salary cap restraints. He showed signs of a high ceiling in his second year averaging 9.6 points and 5.9 rebounds on 37.5 percent from three in 22.3 minutes per game.
He went on to have a productive career in Utah, where he signed a six-year, $50-million contract in the summer of 2004. Okur averaged 15.3 ppg and 7.6 rebounds in seven seasons with the Jazz and was a staple in their front court making the All-Star game once in 2007.
Unfortunately, injuries held back Okur and his longevity, but there’s no doubt the Pistons should have tried to keep him on the roster as they moved on from their 2004 NBA championship.
3. Khris Middleton (Rd 2, pick 39 in 2012)
Career Stats: 13.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.7 apg, 40.0 3p%
Middleton adds to the list of successful second round picks the Pistons have let go too early; another potential All-Star talent who should be a building block for the Bucks for years to come. Middleton was drafted 39th overall in 2012 but had a below-average season as a rookie averaging 6.1 points and 1.9 rebounds on 31.1 percent from three in 27 games.
aSo Detroit shipped him to the Bucks as an add-on to the Brandon Knight-for-Brandon Jennings deal and little did we know Middleton might (arguably) become the best player in the deal. Unfortunately, Middleton tore his left hamstring before this season and could miss it depending on how quickly he heals.
2. Tayshaun Prince (Rd 1, pick 23 in 2002)
Career Stats: 11.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
There is a bit of a debate here, as Tayshaun Prince’s defensive (four-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team) prowess throughout his career was a key piece to Detroit’s success throughout the mid-2000s and ultimately helped them win the 2004 NBA Championship. But the fact Prince never made an All-Star team and was never really the centerpiece of their roster gives Andre Drummond the edge.
Prince was a great defender throughout his career; ‘The Block’ on Reggie Miller in the 2004 NBA Finals was one of his biggest career highlights. He was often asked to guard the likes of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, etc. as his career went on, and is still trying to get signed to an NBA roster at 36 years old.
Prince spent his first 10.5 seasons with the Pistons and made a name for himself on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, Prince was serviceable as a starter and could occasionally hit shots from deep (36.7 career three-point percentage).
1. Andre Drummond (Rd 1, pick 9 in 2012)
Career Stats: 13.2 ppg, 12.6 rpg, 1.6 bpg, 1.2 spg
Drummond was the steal of the draft in 2012, falling to ninth overall pick before the Pistons grabbed him. In my 2012 redraft, he was the second overall pick behind Anthony Davis (although Draymond Green – despite his reckless shenanigans – might have claimed that spot now). Drummond has been a beast on the glass and has improved offensively over the last four years enough for me to give him the benefit of the doubt of his potential growth moving forward.
He needs to work on staying out of foul trouble and get his free throw shooting up to reach his potential, but Drummond has the natural talent, athleticism and size to be a dominant force in the paint for years to come. The Pistons will move up the Eastern Conference standings as Drummond, Stanley Johnson and company continue to improve.
It’s only a matter of time before Detroit takes the next step, and Drummond should be in the middle of it all.