Back-to-back?: Pistons looking to double-dip with another No. 1 pick

Detroit News

The Detroit Pistons finally caught a break in the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, winning the No. 1 overall pick and the right to select prized prospect Cade Cunningham.

While again entering Tuesday night’s 2022 lottery tied for the top odds, will luck favor general manager Troy Weaver’s rebuild for the second year in a row?

The Pistons, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic all have an equal chance of winning the lottery, at 14%, and a 52.14% chance of picking in the top four

The lottery will determine the top four picks in this year’s draft, with the remaining lottery teams selecting in positions 5-14 in inverse order of their 2021-22 record.

The Pistons finished with the third-worst record (23-59), behind Houston and Orlando, meaning they have the ability to pick as low as the No. 7 pick if picks No. 1-4 are all won by teams outside of the top four.

If the Pistons get the No. 1 pick again, they would join the Cleveland Cavaliers (2013 and ’14), Orlando Magic (1992 and ’93) and Houston Rockets (1983 and ’84) to earn back-to-back top picks.

In earning the right to select Cunningham out of Oklahoma State with last year’s No. 1 pick, the Pistons have appeared to expedite their rebuild. Cunningham, a 6-foot-6 guard, started in all 64 of his appearances this past season and averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists.

He finished third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting behind Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, who won the award after being drafted fourth, and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley, taken by the Cavaliers with pick No. 3.

More: Niyo: Pistons look for luck, another building block in NBA Draft lottery

While there isn’t a consensus No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, staying inside the top four does seem equally as important. Four players are thought to be in the top tier of prospects in this year’s draft: Forwards Jabari Smith (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke) and Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) are all poised to contend for the No. 1 selection, with guard Jaden Ivey (Purdue) close behind.

The Pistons in 15 tries have moved up in the lottery just once, when they leapfrogged Houston from the No. 2 position last year. Detroit has moved down in the lottery in six of those years and remained in their pre-lottery position on eight occasions.

The Pistons’ biggest fall in the lottery came in 2020, when the Chicago Bulls (from the No. 7 spot) and Charlotte Hornets (from No. 8) both moved up into the top four. Detroit selected Killian Hayes that year after falling to No. 7 from their pre-lottery position at No. 5.

The 2021 and 2022 lotteries represent the Pistons’ best odds at the No. 1 pick since 1994, when a 16.4% chance at the top resulted in a fall to No. 3, where Detroit selected Grant Hill.

Ben Wallace represented the Pistons at the 2021 draft. This year, they’ll be represented by another member of the “Goin’ to Work” era in Richard “Rip” Hamilton.

NBA Draft Lottery

► When: Tonight at 8 p.m.

► Where: McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago

► TV: ESPN

► Outlook: The Pistons have a 14% chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick, which would be their second straight year with the top pick.

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