NBA mock draft for Round 1: Why Detroit Pistons new coach hire might sway pick at No. 5

The 2024 NBA draft is less than two weeks away, and the Detroit Pistons are one of the more intriguing teams in the lottery — what can we expect from new team president Trajan Langdon?

Not much is known about the former New Orleans Pelicans general manager's draft philosophy, but Langdon's last stop, where he was second-in-command, prioritized players with defensive upside. He has been in hiring mode, adding former Pelicans assistant coach (and shooting guru) Fred Vinson to Monty Williams' staff on Friday.

With Vinson's addition, will the Pistons be more willing to gamble on a prospect whose shot needs developing? Here's how the first round could shake out.

1. Atlanta Hawks: F Zaccharie Risacher

JL Bourg forward Zaccharie Risacher dribbles the ball past Nanterre's Bastien Pinault during the French Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB) Pro A match on the western outskirts of Paris, March 23, 2024.
JL Bourg forward Zaccharie Risacher dribbles the ball past Nanterre's Bastien Pinault during the French Ligue Nationale de Basket (LNB) Pro A match on the western outskirts of Paris, March 23, 2024.

Vitals: 6 feet 9, 210 pounds.

From: JL Bourg (France).

Averages: 11.1 points, 4 rebounds, 47% overall, 38.7% from 3.

Atlanta could go multiple directions after jumping nine spots in the lottery. Taking Risacher may be the most logical choice, given the big wing plays both sides of the floor, with room to grow as a ball-handler and passer.

2. Washington Wizards: PF/C Alex Sarr

Perth Wildcats' Alexandre Sarr drives to the basket during an NBL match vs. Melbourne United, Nov. 6, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia.
Perth Wildcats' Alexandre Sarr drives to the basket during an NBL match vs. Melbourne United, Nov. 6, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia.

Vitals: 7-1, 224.

From: Perth Wildcats (Australia).

Averages: 9.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1 steal, 18 minutes

Washington, after a 15-win season, should be thrilled to end up with the draft’s highest-upside defender. Sarr navigates the perimeter like a wing and also protects the rim, giving the Wizards’ rebuild a big man they can build around.

3. Houston Rockets: G Reed Sheppard

Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard drives down the lane against Texas A&M during the second half at Bridgestone Arena, March 15, 2024 in Nashville.
Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard drives down the lane against Texas A&M during the second half at Bridgestone Arena, March 15, 2024 in Nashville.

Vitals: 6-3, 187.

From: Kentucky.

Averages: 12.5 points, 4.5 assists, 2.5 steals, 53.6% overall, 52.1% from 3.

The freshman guard’s numbers jump off the page — he’s not only a red-hot shooter from just about everywhere on the floor, but a high-effort defender who averaged 3.2 combined steals and blocks per game.

4. San Antonio Spurs: G Rob Dillingham

Vitals: 6-2, 176.

From: Kentucky.

Averages: 15.2 points, 3.9 assists, 47.5% overall, 44.4% from 3.

Dillingham, one of the draft’s best shooters and all-around shot creators, is projected to go in the lottery despite his slight frame. The Spurs can live with his defensive shortcomings, with Victor Wembanyama lurking in the paint.

5. Detroit Pistons: F Matas Buzelis

Team Giraffe Stars forward Matas Buzelis (13) of the G League Ignite goes to the basket in a game at Indiana Convention Center, Feb. 18, 2024 in Indianapolis.
Team Giraffe Stars forward Matas Buzelis (13) of the G League Ignite goes to the basket in a game at Indiana Convention Center, Feb. 18, 2024 in Indianapolis.

Vitals: 6-10, 209.

From: G League Ignite.

Averages: 14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.9 blocks, 45% overall, 26.1% from 3

Buzelis profiles as the type of versatile, two-way wing the Pistons have lacked in recent seasons — he sees the floor, is one of the draft’s better weakside shot blockers and is a plus athlete. After hiring renowned NBA shot doctor Fred Vinson as an assistant on Friday, the Pistons should feel more confident about Buzelis’ long-term potential as an outside shooter.

Despite shooting the ball competently in high school, he really struggled to knock down 3s during his lone season with the Ignite. Buzelis expressed confidence at the NBA draft combine in Chicago that he’ll shoot better in the NBA. He’ll have one of the league’s best teachers by his side in Detroit.

6. Charlotte Hornets: G Stephon Castle

Vitals: 6-7, 215.

From: UConn.

Castle brings technically sound defense, playmaking and size to a Hornets team building around LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller.

7. Portland Trail Blazers: F Ron Holland

Vitals: 6-8, 206.

From: G League Ignite.

One of the draft’s more divisive prospects due to his poor outside shooting, Holland otherwise provides much of what you’d want in a modern wing: high-energy defense, strong rebounding, selfless playmaking and a nose for the rim.

8. San Antonio Spurs: F Tidjane Salaun

Vitals: 6-10, 212.

From: Cholet Basket (France).

After selecting a point guard at No. 4, the Spurs commit to a French forward who can play next to Wembanyama. Salaun is raw, but has defensive length and flashes of one day being a strong shooter.

9. Memphis Grizzlies: C Donovan Clingan

Vitals: 7-3, 280.

From: UConn.

The Grizzlies are viewed as a team likely to trade their pick, but they would likely leap at the opportunity to pair Clingan, a Day 1 rim protector who can also find shooters out of the post, next to former Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr.

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10. Utah Jazz: G Dalton Knecht

Vitals: 6-6, 213.

From: Tennessee.

One of the most talented all-around scorers in his class, Knecht should be an instant-impact player for a rebuilding Jazz team.

11. Chicago Bulls: G Nikola Topic

Nikola Topic of Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade goes up for a shot against Johnathan Motley of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul during EuroLeague action at Ulker Sports Arena, Jan. 2, 2024 in Istanbul, Turkey.
Nikola Topic of Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade goes up for a shot against Johnathan Motley of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul during EuroLeague action at Ulker Sports Arena, Jan. 2, 2024 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Vitals: 6-6, 201.

From: Red Star (Serbia).

An ACL injury has shifted Topic’s draft stock, but he remains one of the draft’s best playmakers and interior scorers. He’s a good fit for the Bulls, who need a point guard.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: F Cody Williams

Vitals: 6-8, 190.

From: Colorado.

The Thunder are both young and contending, and can afford to take a swing. Williams, the younger brother of OKC's Jalen Williams, has the tools necessary to be an effective starting wing someday.

13. Sacramento Kings: G Devin Carter

Vitals: 6-3, 193.

From: Providence.

Sacramento is in win-now mode. Carter, one of the draft’s most well-rounded players, projects as an instant-impact player due to his strong shooting and defense.

14. Portland Trail Blazers: F Tristan da Silva

Vitals: 6-9, 217.

From: Colorado.

The 23-year-old forward has a great chance to outplay his draft position, as he shot 49% overall, close to 40% from 3 and is a good passer for his size.

15. Miami Heat: G Jared McCain

Vitals: 6-3, 197.

From: Duke.

The freshman guard has few weaknesses, and is a strong culture fit for a Heat team that, historically, has valued players who play both ends of the floor.

16. Philadelphia 76ers: PF/C DaRon Holmes II

Vitals: 6-10, 235.

From: Dayton.

The All-American was dominant, averaging 20.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting nearly 39% from 3.

17. Los Angeles Lakers: F Johnny Furphy

Vitals: 6-8, 202.

From: Kansas.

Furphy profiles as one of the draft’s better off-ball players as a shooter who attacks open space, making him a natural fit for a team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

18. Orlando Magic: C Kyle Filipowski

Vitals: 6-11, 248.

From: Duke.

Orlando typically goes for long-armed defenders, but Filipowski addresses frontcourt needs with his shooting and playmaking and can still make an impact defensively.

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19. Toronto Raptors: G Ja’Kobe Walter

Vitals: 6-6, 195.

From: Baylor.

Walter is a potential strong fit next to Immanuel Quickley thanks to his off-ball tools, though he’ll have to improve his 34.1% clip from 3.

20. Cleveland Cavaliers: G Isaiah Collier

Vitals: 6-3, 210.

From: USC.

With at least one of Darius Garland or Donovan Mitchell appearing likely to depart this summer, per reports, it makes sense for Cleveland to go with a physical, playmaking guard in Collier, whose game could really pop if he improves his shooting.

21. New Orleans Pelicans: C Yves Missi

Vitals: 7-0, 215.

From: Baylor.

Missi, who projects to be an athletic, rim-protecting center, would immediately replace veteran center Jonas Valanciunas, who is entering free agency.

22. Phoenix Suns: C Zach Edey

Purdue center Zach Edey (15) and guard Fletcher Loyer (2) battle for a rebound against Tennessee forward Tobe Awaka (11) during the second half of the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional Elite 8 round at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday, March 31, 2024.
Purdue center Zach Edey (15) and guard Fletcher Loyer (2) battle for a rebound against Tennessee forward Tobe Awaka (11) during the second half of the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional Elite 8 round at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday, March 31, 2024.

Vitals: 7-4, 300.

From: Purdue.

Phoenix is all-in on winning a championship with big financial commitments made to Devin Booker, Kevin Durant and Bradley Beal. Edey might be the best player available here after several dominant college seasons.

23. Milwaukee Bucks: C Kel’el Ware

Vitals: 7-0, 242.

From: Indiana.

Brook Lopez is 36. Ware’s rim protection, athleticism and flashes of outside shooting could one day make him a capable successor.

24. New York Knicks: G/F Kyshawn George

Vitals: 6-8, 205.

From: Miami (Florida).

A 40.8% shooter from 3 last season, George fits a Knicks team that could lose former Pistons scorers Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks in free agency.

25. New York Knicks: G Cam Christie

Vitals: 6-5, 190.

From: Minnesota.

The Knicks double-down on 3-and-D prospects, selecting a wing in Christie (the brother of former MSU standout Max Christie) who shot 39% from 3 on high volume while displaying discipline on defense.

26. Washington Wizards: G Carlton Carrington

Vitals: 6-4, 190.

From: Pittsburgh.

His efficiency lacked as a freshman last season, but Carrington, the draft’s youngest college player, boasts big upside thanks to his defensive length and shooting upside.

27. Minnesota Timberwolves: G Tyler Kolek

Vitals: 6-1, 197.

From: Marquette.

The 23-year-old guard can do everything on offense, making him a potential replacement for backup point guard and pending free agent Monte Morris.

28. Denver Nuggets: G/F Ryan Dunn

Vitals: 6-6, 214.

From: Virginia.

The Nuggets have prioritized instant-impact rookies in recent seasons. Dunn averaged a whopping 3.6 combined steals and blocks, and might be the draft’s best defensive wing. He has significant room for growth as a shooter, as he hit just 20% of his 3-point attempts.

29. Utah Jazz: F Pacome Dadiet

Vitals: 6-8, 187.

From: Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany).

The 18-year-old does a little of everything on offense, making him an upside swing this late into the draft.

30. Boston Celtics: F Baylor Scheierman

Creighton guard Baylor Scheierman (55) looks to pass Tennessee guard Jahmai Mashack (15) during the first half of the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional Sweet 16 round at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Friday, March 29, 2024.
Creighton guard Baylor Scheierman (55) looks to pass Tennessee guard Jahmai Mashack (15) during the first half of the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional Sweet 16 round at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Friday, March 29, 2024.

Vitals: 6-7, 205.

From: Creighton.

Boston uses the final pick in the first round by adding a 23-year-old 3-and-D wing to a roster stacked with 3-and-D wings.

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him @omarisankofa.

Feeling a draft?

What: 2024 NBA draft.

Fast facts: Round 1 — June 26; Barclays Center, New York; Round 2 — June 27; Seaport District Studios, Secaucus, New Jersey.

Pistons' picks (overall pick in parentheses): Round 1 — 5 (5); Round 2 — 23 (53).

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: NBA mock draft: Predicting entire first round, what Detroit Pistons do

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