The Detroit Pistons got lucky during last year’s NBA draft lottery, moving up one spot to secure the first overall pick. That pick became Cade Cunningham, who had one of the best rookie seasons in franchise history.
The Pistons didn’t get lucky this year.
They entered Tuesday’s lottery with the third-best odds, but fell two spots to fifth overall. They were jumped by Sacramento (entered No. 7, will pick fourth) and Oklahoma City (entered No. 4, will pick second). Orlando won the lottery, moving up one spot. Houston will pick third after dropping two spots.
The Pistons had a 52.1% chance of picking in the top four.
They will likely miss out on drafting one of the draft’s three best prospects — Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. and Duke’s Paolo Banchero — but will still have one of the best picks in the draft and a prime opportunity to add another core piece to their young roster.
Outside of those three players, the Pistons have several other prospects they are high on. Among them are Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, Iowa forward Keegan Murray, Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe, Arizona guard Bennedict Mathurin and Memphis center Jalen Duren.
After the third pick, this draft is considered to be wide open. The Pistons also have a second-round pick, No. 46 overall, from Brooklyn.
“We’re going to pick the best player for us,” Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said Tuesday night. “Length, size, speed, it really doesn’t matter. Pick the best player for the Pistons. We’re very comfortable with the guys all on the board in the lottery.”
Ivey is widely considered to be the best prospect outside of Holmgren, Smith and Banchero, but the NBA combine and strong individual team workouts could shake up the Pistons’ board ahead of the draft June 23.
The Pistons finished the season 23-59, 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference. Cunningham finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, averaging 17.4 points, 5.6 assists and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 31.4% from 3-point range.
Building around Cunningham is the key now.
“Absolutely we’re going to pick the guy that fits best with our organization moving forward,” Weaver said. “He’ll have the same attributes to these other guys. We absolutely factor in Cade and the rest of the guys. That’s easy because these guys have such similarities with Cade, Saddiq (Bey), Isaiah (Stewart), Pick 7 (Killian Hayes). So this one won’t be difficult to add this person and player to the mix.”
Orlando finished with the worst record in the East at 22-60 and missed the playoffs for the eighth time in 10 years. But they got a huge win in the lottery, where they had a 14% chance landing the top pick.
It’s the fourth time lottery luck struck for the Magic, who won in back-to-back years in 1992 and 1993, taking Shaquille O’Neal and then trading the rights to Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway. In 2004, Orlando picked Dwight Howard.
New Orleans might be one of the biggest winners as the lone playoff team with a lottery pick. The Pelicans got it from the 2019 trade that sent Anthony Davis to the Lakers.
With Los Angeles struggling to a 33-49 record, eighth worst in the NBA, that put the Pelicans in position to cash in. They needed the pick to fall in the top 10 in order to keep it, and there was a 99.6% chance of that.
The Thunder have two lottery picks at No. 2 and No. 12, the latter from the Paul George trade with the Clippers in 2019.
2022 NBA draft order for lottery teams
2. Oklahoma City
8. New Orleans (from LA Lakers)
9. San Antonio
11. New York
12. Oklahoma City (from LA Clippers)
Free Press news services contributed. Contact Omari Sankofa II at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has a digital subscription model. Here’s how you can access our most exclusive Pistons content. Read more on the Detroit Pistons and sign up for our Pistons newsletter.