Pistons suffer another loss, fall to No. 5 in NBA Draft for second straight year

Detroit News

Chicago — The Detroit Pistons’ prize for one of the worst seasons in franchise history is what fans have dreaded since the team secured the worst record in the NBA last month.

Detroit won’t get the opportunity to draft French phenom Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Instead, the Pistons suffered another instance of bad lottery luck and fell to the fifth pick — the furthest they could fall — for the second consecutive year at the NBA Draft Lottery.

NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealed the official order of next month’s draft on Tuesday night at McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, where most of the league is gathered this week for the NBA Draft Combine and a meeting between general managers.

The San Antonio Spurs, moved up two spots to No. 1, followed by the Charlotte Hornets at No. 2, the Portland Trail Blazers at No. 3 and the Houston Rockets at No. 4.

Despite sharing the best odds (14%) of getting the top pick with the Rockets and Spurs, the Pistons’ lottery misfortune continued, as they fell four spots, which is the worst drop in the franchise’s history. That surpasses the previous mark of two spots, which Detroit also dropped in the 2022 and 2020 draft lotteries.

In four years since the NBA changed the lottery rules in 2019 to discourage tanking, the team with the worst record has never received the No. 1 pick.

It makes sense that the Pistons would end up in the No. 5 slot. Mathematically, they had a 47.8% chance of dropping to fifth, but a 52.3% probability of finishing with a top-four pick. The five teams with the best odds of getting the top pick stayed in the top five, but they were in a much different order than Pistons fans would have hoped.

None of the other teams from picks 6-14 changed.

The Pistons, who were trying to win the lottery for the second time in three years, finished with a 17-65 record this season, which marked the second-worst mark in franchise history. That position didn’t have any guarantees, and the Pistons fell to fifth, putting some uncertainty in their draft plans, where they could either keep the pick and take the best player available, or possibly pursue a trade to improve their roster.

Senior director of player personnel Jon Phelps represented the Pistons inside the lottery drawing room, while franchise legend Ben Wallace was the on-stage representative again.

Wallace was the team’s good luck charm in 2021, when the Pistons won the lottery for the first time in franchise history, which resulted in the selection of Cade Cunningham. Richard “Rip” Hamilton, Wallace’s “Goin’ to Work” teammate, represented the organization last year.

This is the second consecutive year in which Pistons fans were left disappointed after the results of the lottery. Detroit drafted explosive guard Jaden Ivey, who won All-Rookie second-team honors, with the fifth pick last season.

The Pistons are entering a pivotal year of their latest rebuild with a sense of urgency to compete for the Play-In tournament and Wembanyama would have increased the team’s chances to end a four-year playoff drought. Other top prospects such as G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson and Alabama forward are expected to be unavailable by the time the Pistons are on the clock.

Instead, the Pistons will either stand pat and fill their positional need at small forward with the fifth pick, or choose to trade the pick in an effort to improve the roster immediately.

NBA Draft order

  1. San Antonio Spurs (up two spots)
  2. Charlotte Hornets (up two spots)
  3. Portland Trail Blazers (up two spots)
  4. Houston Rockets (down two spots)
  5. Detroit Pistons (down four spots)
  6. Orlando Magic (no change)
  7. Indiana Pacers (no change)
  8. Washington Wizards (no change)
  9. Utah Jazz (no change)
  10. Dallas Mavericks (no change)
  11. Chicago Bulls (no change)
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (no change)
  13. Toronto Raptors (no change)
  14. New Orleans Pelicans (no change)

mcurtis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @MikeACurtis2

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