Less than a week away from Thursday's 2013 NBA Draft and, as expected, questions still loom about who in this "week" draft class will round-out the top five spots. The Detroit Pistons have the no. 8 pick, and while many have circled the Pistons as a team that could possibly move-up via trade or even get an extra pick in the first round, the team spent the last week evaluating talent for their assigned no. 8 pick. This past week the Pistons held individual workouts for players that could possibly fill one of their many needs in the draft. Throughout the week, players like Michael Carter-Wiliams and C.J. McCollum made their presence in Detroit known via Twitter, but at the week's end the Pistons released the full list of players who had worked out with the team this week.
While the Pistons said that they would draft "best player available" with their no. 8 pick, a quick once-over of the released list shows a focus on guard play and the current point-guard-less backcourt the Pistons are hoping to address. Released list of players is as follows:
Kenny Boynton (G), Florida
Trey Burke (G), Michigan
Michael Carter-Williams (G), Syracuse
Karron Johnson (G), Belmont
CJ McCollum (G), Lehigh
Shane Larkin (G), Miami
Dexter Strickland (G), North Carolina
Jared Berggren (F), Wisconsin
Augusto Cesar Lima (F), Brazil
Derrick Nix (C), Michigan State
Cody Zeller (F/C), Indiana
Despite having a workout scheduled for Friday with the Pistons, Duke center Mason Plumlee was not on the released list of players who worked out with the team.
The list of players is a mix of worthy no. 8 talent, late first-round players and second-rounders (Boyton, Johnson, Strickland, Cesar Lima, Berggren, Nix). As the Pistons have two second round picks with the nos. 37 and 56, finding a contributing player in the second round is a priority for the team. The Pistons have already worked out a large number of second-rounders, but there's nothing wrong with getting as many players in as possible to get it right.
While Carter-Williams, Burke and McCollum are worthy of the no. 8 pick, players like Zeller and Larkin are players more likely to come off the board between nos. 10-15. If for some reason Burke, Carter-Williams and McCollum were all off the board before no. 8, there are players now projected to go in first seven picks that will have then slipped that the Pistons would take over Zeller and Larkin (players like Alex Len, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter Jr. or Anthony Bennett). While all three guards being picked before no. 8 is highly unlikely, the point is made to further point out that Zeller and Larkin are players likely to be picked outside the top 10 no matter what the scenario is for the Pistons. So, why invite them in for a workout if the Pistons only have one pick in the first round?
The Pistons could have brought them in to see if they could stand out alongside the other players slotted higher by scouts and media; rise to the occasion knowing that they're unlikely to be picked with the no. 8 pick. Possibly the Pistons were hoping Zeller and Larkin would make a stellar impression on them, something other teams in the league weren't given access to, propelling them to the top of the Pistons draft board at no. 8.
Still, the high probability that both Larkin and Zeller are drafted between nos. 10-15 doesn't mean the Pistons can't get either player outside of drafting them with the no. 8 pick.
The Dallas Mavericks currently hold the no. 13 pick overall, and are actively shopping it. The Cleveland Cavaliers were the first team the Mavericks pursued a trade with, asking for the Cavaliers to take Shaun Marion (contract expires at end of 2013-14 season) and the no. 13 pick in exchange for both of Cleveland's 2013 second-round picks and a future draft pick in the 2014 draft. The Cavaliers turned down the offer stating that giving up both second-round picks (nos. 31 and 33) plus a 2014 pick was too high. The Pistons were named as another potential trade partner with the Mavericks, and as the Pistons' two second-round picks aren't as high as Cleveland's, the trade with the Mavericks might be worth it as long as the future 2014 draft pick the Pistons sent back was lottery-protected. Perhaps the Pistons wait for draft day to see if Zeller or Larkin (whichever they like better) is available when the Mavericks draft at no.13, then call in "their pick" for the Mavericks to make, and execute the trade that night. It certainly is a possibility, as the Pistons seem to have trade elements that are close to what the Mavericks were asking of the Cavaliers.
While bringing in players ranging in draft order from top ten, to mid-first round, to second round is nothing more than the Pistons not wanting to leave any stone unturned. There's always the possibility of the Pistons falling in love with two players, feeling as though they need both, and then making the necessary move to secure both. The no. 8 pick will likely be a guard from the Burke, Carter-Williams, McCollum trio, but if they fall in love with Zeller or Larkin as well, the Mavericks could provide a means to come away with two first-round talents in this draft.
It's all an exercise in speculation, which is what makes the NBA Draft so enjoyable to watch. Tune in Thursday, June 27th for the 2013 NBA Draft on ESPN.