Beard: Anticipation builds as Pistons look for No. 1 pick in NBA Draft Lottery

Detroit News

Detroit — I’m not a big fan of lotteries.

Even when the Mega Millions jackpot tops $1 billion, I’m not one of those people who goes out and buys a slew of tickets, just hoping to be the lucky winner.

But, if you’re a Detroit Pistons fan, you might want to be one of those rabid fanatics tonight for the NBA Draft Lottery, hoping against hope that the Pistons get the No. 1 pick for the second time in three years.

The prize isn’t a Boblo boatload of money, but Victor Wembanyama is something close. The 7-foot-5 forward is the most-hyped prospect since LeBron James entered the league 20 years ago.

And no one needs to be reminded who the Pistons selected at No. 2 in that draft.

This is different. The Pistons, who already had some lottery luck in 2021 when they got the No. 1 pick and selected Cade Cunningham, could use another stroke dance with Lady Luck. After all, a miserable 17-65 record this season deserves some salve to make things better. If Pistons fans are hoping for the best possible outcome, with the right combination of numbers going their way, Wembanyama is that answer.

He’s a cheat code. He had a putback dunk on a 3-pointer that he shot — before the ball hit the ground. That’s insanity. Wembanyama is only 19, but he has the skill set of a veteran, with the pterodactyl arms of Kevin Durant — to whom he’s often compared — and the ball-handling skills and dexterity of a guard. He’s the prototype player that video gamers create in the lab.

He fits in with the Pistons’ rebuild, with a backcourt of Cunningham and last year’s first-round picks, Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, along with Isaiah Stewart and another player with a background in France, Killian Hayes.

Wembanyama wouldn’t just accelerate their rebuild under general manager Troy Weaver — it would turbocharge it with a new engine and worldwide attention. Never mind that the Pistons don’t have a coach, after Dwane Casey moved from the sidelines into the front office.

It’s a bigger deal than the Lions getting Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 pick, Calvin Johnson at No. 2 or even Barry Sanders at No. 3. It’s bigger than the Pistons getting Isiah Thomas at No. 2 or the Red Wings selecting Steve Yzerman at No. 4.

Wembanyama is an international presence that would change the sports landscape in the city and how the world views Detroit.

And that’s not hyperbole.

Find a beret with an Old English D. Get fancy and pronounce it “Day-twah” instead of “Dee-troit.” Order a nice red wine — whatever it takes.

Go and buy a lottery ticket.

Make sure one of the numbers is 1. The Pistons are hoping for that too.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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