NBA Draft Odds: Detroit Pistons May Be Down To Cam Whitmore, Jarace Walker
2023 NBA Draft odds have three distinct tiers at the top of the lottery. Victor Wembanyama sits alone in tier one, followed by Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson in tier two. Tier three is where things get crowded and convoluted for the No. 4 and No. 5 overall picks. Amen Thompson has been widely regarded to go fourth, but Ausar Thompson odds are shortening too Wednesday. Detroit Pistons NBA Draft plans for the fifth pick are a bit of a mystery too.
But let’s see if we can follow some breadcrumbs to a good bet on the No. 5 overall pick.
Detroit Pistons NBA Draft Odds
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No. 5 Pick Starts With No. 4
Amen Thompson was -320 on FanDuel to go No. 4 overall, as of Wednesday afternoon. That number dropped considerably as rumors of James Harden’s return to the Rockets flamed out. Thompson’s playmaking abilities are somewhat duplicative with Harden’s even if they’re not in the same stratosphere talent or experience-wise.
So, let’s assume we know who the first four picks will be – Wemby, Miller, Henderson and Amen.
Jay Bilas On His No. 4 Prospect In 2023 NBA Draft
Whitmore & Walker Rising To The Top
No one outside of Detroit’s front office (and maybe even some within) can say with 100% certainty who the team will take with their first pick. It does seem, however, that the choice is down to two guys: Cam Whitmore (Villanova University) and Jarace Walker (University of Houston).
Pistons’ General Manager, Troy Weaver spoke the media on Tuesday, saying he’s looking to “take a big swing” in the draft. Cue the Brian Windhorst meme and let’s ask ourselves, “what is he trying to tell us?”
For starters, we can likely dismiss the idea that he’ll trade the pick at this point. Even if Detroit opted not to draft one of Walker or Whitmore, there are still a few juicy prospects within tier 3 who will be available. More to the point though, Weaver and his staff want a player with a high ceiling, rather than someone who can help them win now.
Both of these freshmen proved they can help a team right away, winning conference Rookie of the Year awards. There was also a significant gap in ability between them and the other prospects who were flown to Detroit pre-draft. Guys like GG Jackson, Jordan Walsh, Julian Phillips, Marcus, Sasser and Isaiah Wong all worked out for the Pistons and all make more sense as late first-rounders when Detroit selects 31st.
Weak On The Wing
Based on how Detroit handled itself in the last two drafts, they don’t need a playmaker or a true center. Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick in a loaded 2021 NBA Draft, looks like a future All-NBA point guard. Last year’s 4th overall pick, Jaden Ivy, also flashed immense potential and should be featured as Cunningham’s co-star in the backcourt.
At center, Detroit has a deep rotation of young players with the hopes at least one pans out. James Wiseman and Isaiah Stewart are just 22 years old, and 19-year-old Jalen Duren is the youngest player in the league. There’s reason to practice patience with the team’s young bigs.
Wing play, however, is one area that could use a ton of improvement. Last season, the Pistons ranked in the bottom 10 in allowing opposing forwards to score, rebound, and assist.
Of the dozen or so prospects with a true shot at cracking the top 10, Detroit worked out six guys: Whitmore, Walker, Anthony Black, Taylor Hendricks, and the Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar. Of those six, only Whitmore and Walker fill the need of a two-way wing, possibly the most coveted archetype in the league these days.
The additional scuttlebutt around this pick leads me to believe it’s down to one of the two for Detroit. Which one makes more sense though?
Why I’m Betting Jarace Walker To Be No. 5 Overall Pick
I said on the NBA Coast 2 Coast Draft Special that I really like Walker to go fifth. When we recorded on Monday the odds for that to happen were listed at +340 on FanDuel. As I write this on Wednesday they’re down to +200 on DraftKings (+185 on FanDuel) and I still like them.
Walker and Whitmore have similar play styles on offense. Both are big-bodied and use their size to create separation from defenders. Whitmore has a bit better handle and can create his own shot more often and with greater success than Walker. Walker, however, is a better defender who can guard more positions, which is exactly what Detroit needs.
When Cunningham returns to the lineup, the Pistons will certainly improve upon the league’s third-worst offense in 2022-23. What’s unclear is whether or not their 27th ranked defense will get any better.
Walker put up an 87.1 individual defensive rating in his only season at Houston and should come in with the ability to guard NBA wings and smaller bigs right away. There’s still value at +200 for him to go fifth, I think I’ll take a little bit more action on Walker.
Best of luck betting on Detroit Pistons NBA Draft odds.