NBA Draft Lottery: Detroit Pistons fall to fifth pick for third consecutive year

Detroit Bad Boys

It always felt inevitable. The Detroit Pistons, coming off the worst record in the NBA and worst season in franchise history, will be picking fifth overall after falling four spots in the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery.

Fate (or math) decreed this seemingly cursed team would not be awarded any lottery luck and would instead fall to fifth overall — their most likely individual landing spot, statistically speaking.

What’s the downside of picking fifth overall in an extremely unsettled NBA Draft with few players that have star upside? Well, if there are only a few stars available, they could obviously be picked ahead of No. 5.

What’s the upside of picking fifth overall in an extremely unsettled NBA Draft? There is no saying that the player the Pistons pick at 5 (if they pick) will not end up being better than the four players selected ahead of him.

Here is a sneak preview of what I just submitted for an upcoming DBB on 3 piece, and I am dropping it early because it’s where my head is at right now:

The Pistons have to grit their teeth and take the best player available, but they should have expansive thinking on who is in the running and what kind of skills equate to the best possible players. If you enter it with the idea that there are no stars and you are instead looking for the best complementary player, that opens up the aperture on what you are willing to evaluate. Don’t be fooled by athleticism that doesn’t equate to production or steady points in a weak league. This BPA approach also means the team must be willing to both evaluate trading the pick if another team sees real value at 5 and will pay for it or a willingness to trade a player on the current roster so that there is balance in skill and position among the young roster. If Donovan Clingan is the best player (and better than Duren), trade Duren. If Stephon Castle is the best player (and better than Ivey), trade Ivey.

The official draft order will be: Atlanta Hawks (jumping from the 10th best odds all the way to first overall), Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets (via Brooklyn), San Antonio Spurs, and Pistons.

There are several questions for the Pistons heading into the draft above and beyond the player they should pick at the slot. There is also a question of who will be making the pick. Detroit is hiring a president of basketball operations, and that person will have the ultimate say in the selection. There is also a question of whether that person will hire a new GM or retain incumbent Troy Weaver and let him have any additional influence on the draft process.

There is anticipation the hire will be made before the NBA Draft on June 26, but that new president will be relying on data acquired by the current regime, unless that person is hired away from another team and can rely on data his former employer collected.

There is also the strong potential that the Pistons will trade the fifth overall pick as they try to dig themselves out of a sizeable hole they’ve created for themselves. If the Pistons want a true second banana (if not second star) next to Cade Cunningham as early as possible, it could require packaging the pick as well as an assemblage of young players that could include Jaden Ivey, Ausar Thompson (both picked by the team at fifth overall in the last two draft) or Jalen Duren.

Pain, misery, and young talent. Your Detroit Pistons. The more things change, the more things stay the same.

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