Detroit — After the Pistons went on a little run with a stretch of six wins in eight games, they looked to be falling out of contention to get another top-three draft pick. They were trending up and looking as if they would have a strong finish to the season.
Not so much.
In the time since, the Pistons have lost five of their last six games and they fell to 19-53 and in the final stretch of the season, they have the second-worst record in the league. That means they’re back in position to have another top pick, if the standings hold in the last nine games.
The Houston Rockets had the worst record, at 18-54 and the Orlando Magic were a half-game behind, at 20-53, and the Oklahoma City Thunder a game behind, at 20-52, entering Wednesday’s games.
The Thunder have lost 10 straight games and they’ll have a huge hand in determining the final order heading into the draft lottery. The bottom three teams each will have a 14% chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, and the fourth-place team’s odds will be 12.5%.
The lowest any of the top teams can fall is four spots from their final position in the standings.
This week’s News & Views looks at some of the scenarios facing the Pistons depending on where they land in the final standings and what they could do in the draft.
News: The Pistons are again going to finish with one of the worst records in the league.
Views: From the beginning of the season, this seemed to be the path for the Pistons. Some fans may have thought that the Pistons might push their way into a play-in game, but that would have been a very optimistic for anyone to project.
With the improvement that teams such as the Cavs and Hornets have made this season, it was going to be hard for the Pistons to make a substantial upward move, especially after their slow start to the season. Even the Atlanta Hawks, who were finalists in the Eastern Conference last season, are struggling at the No. 10 spot.
Coach Dwane Casey has indicated that the expectations likely will change next year and their push will be toward playing meaningful games at this time next season.
News: The Pistons are in line to get a top-five draft pick:
Views: The next stage of the Pistons’ rebuild is contingent on them getting a high-quality player in the draft and also a strong veteran addition in free agency. The pick is likely to be in the top five, but in the top three, where the likely candidates are all big men: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Jabari Smith (Auburn) and Paolo Banchero (Duke).
There are question marks about each of the top prospects, and the next tier of prospects includes Purdue’s Jaden Ivey and Iowa’s Keegan Murray, who also could fit into the Pistons’ plans. There are other players in the mix as well, but the Pistons’ pick will depend more on where they land after the lottery than trying to pick for need specifically.
News: Reports indicate that the Portland Trail Blazers might be interested in trading for Jerami Grant.
Views: The Pistons got some calls about Grant before the trade deadline, but they didn’t like any of the packages being offered. That could change if the Blazers can put something together that would interest the Pistons. The reports indicate that Portland might want to include the New Orleans Pelican’ pick, which could land in the top 10. That would be an interesting starting point to getting the talks started.
There would have to be some other pieces involved to make it worth their while, but adding another young prospect fits with the Pistons’ rebuild plans, but they would have to have their eyes on a bigger free agent or veteran from another team to align a trade like that with their quest to be a playoff team next season.