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Oddsmakers Think NBA Draft Will Yield Low-Post Logjam For Pistons

Is there such a thing as having too many hulking youngsters on a single roster?




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jarace walker

How many young big guys is too many young big guys for a single NBA roster?

If oddsmakers are correct about which player Detroit will select with the fifth pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, the Pistons are about to find out.

Jarace Walker is a 6’7”, 250-pound ball of granite with a 7’3” wingspan. In other words, the ex-Houston Cougar is built exactly like Isaiah Stewart, and, like second-year center Jalen Duren, he’s still a teenager. Unlike those two players — or Detroit’s fourth young big guy, James Wiseman — Walker is regarded as a superb defensive prospect, which is something the Pistons could use desperately.

The problem is that none of this quartet has flashed much in the way of shooting range, and clogging the lane on offense is sort of the opposite of how most successful NBA teams tend to play nowadays. Perhaps new Detroit coach Monty Williams can find a way to make it work, but we wouldn’t bet on it.

More likely, if Detroit selects Walker, whose odds range from +100 at BetRivers to +175 at BetMGM to go fifth, it’ll be a maneuver with the intent of, “Let’s see which two of these four are the best of the bunch and trade the rest.” That’s not as desirable as being first in line to select a generational talent like Victor Wembanyama, but it represents potential progress.

Perimeter options abound

Walker is far from Detroit’s only option, particularly if the team looks to bolster its roster on the wing instead of the block. After Walker, the consensus is that the Pistons may choose Villanova’s Cam Whitmore (+225 at BetRivers to be selected fifth) or one of Overtime Elite’s Thompson twins (Ausar 4/1 at BetRivers, Amen 5/1).

A tier down on the odds boards of major mobile sportsbooks are Central Florida forward Taylor Hendricks (20/1 at BetRivers), Arkansas guard Anthony Black (30/1 at BetMGM), and Kansas swingman Gradey Dick (95/1 at FanDuel). 

While he brings defensive question marks to the table, Dick would slot in nicely as an additional floor-spacer and heir apparent to sharpshooter Bojan Bogdanovic, but the Pistons could likely trade down and still grab him.

The Pistons also have the first pick in the second round (No. 31 overall), where former Michigan forward Jett Howard — Juwan’s son — would offer high upside should he slip a bit beyond his late-first-round projection.

Who’s got the most Mojo?

Mojo, a fledgling “jock market” that’s currently operational in New Jersey and has plans to expand to other states, has released stock values for the top 10 picks, giving Pistons fans and bettors some idea of each player’s potential upside.

French freak Wembanyama, who is a lock to be selected first by San Antonio, has been assigned an opening price of $299.35 based solely on his future value. From there, it’s a precipitous drop to Brandon Miller ($133.52) and Scoot Henderson ($130.46), who should go second and third on Thursday, although not necessarily in that order.

Of the players who could be available when the Pistons pick fifth, Amen Thompson ($104.97) is currently the most valuable on Mojo, followed by Whitmore ($100.85), Walker ($90.88), Ausar Thompson ($89.98), Black ($88.20), Hendricks ($87.76), and Dick ($78.81).

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images