Detroit Pistons First-Round Picks Since 2000
The 2023 NBA Draft has tipped off and the Detroit Pistons have made their pick at 5th overall. Ausar Thompson out of Overtime Elite is joining the Pistons. Pistons fans will sit back and watch his career unfold as the Pistons look to complete the rebuild and return to Eastern Conference relevancy.
How will his career unfold compared to the Pistons previous first-round selections? Only time will tell, but we can look back on the names called for the Pistons since 2000 and remember what was in franchise history.
Of course, the NBA Draft is a volatile experience. A player selected in the middle of the first round may not be ready to contribute right away. With smaller, constantly evolving rosters, the NBA's franchises are quick to move on cash in on a player's value rather than wait for them to potentially develop.
While looking at the value of the trade isn't part of the exercise in this article, it's interesting to see just how many of these first-round picks were traded within a handful of years only to give the next team very little production.
Still, that does speak to how poorly the Pistons have drafted, whether early or late in the first round. Only five of the 16 players with enough NBA experience on this list played five or more seasons in Detroit. Maybe a third of the picks panning out isn't awful, but the Pistons are in the NBA basement for a reason.
Even when Detroit was elite in the early to mid-2000s, poor drafting did the team no favors. In fact, passing on Carmelo Anthony may have been the worst decision in franchise history. In 2003, the Pistons selected Darko Miličić with the second overall pick after promising Anthony he'd be the pick. While the Pistons went on to win one of two NBA Finals appearances over the next two seasons, Miličić was a total bust while Anthony went on to a Hall of Fame career.
Would the Pistons be this bad if Anthony spent his first eight seasons in Detroit instead of Denver? We'll never know, and it's likely not the only "what-if" scenario that springs to mind for die-hard Pistons fans.
After all, with the lottery system practically stealing the Pistons chances to select Victor Wembanyama in this year's draft, Detroit will be left wondering what the Pistons would be like with him on the roster as the team looks to turn the corner on a rebuild that has lasted too long.