With the NBA Draft Lottery just hours away, SB Nation's Tom Ziller asks "who deserves to win the NBA Draft's Anthony Davis sweepstakes?" Each NBA team's SBN counterpart was invited to defend their own team and explain why they deserve the big prize. I weighed in for the Detroit Pistons:
If there truly are basketball gods, they should be smiling on the Detroit Pistons for the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery. Why? Detroit's ninth lottery placement belies just how difficult this season was -- instead it reflects how hard the Pistons fought until the very end.
The 4-21 start in Detroit was worse than those numbers indicate. After pacing the Bobcats for the worst record in the league, Detroit ultimately figured it out and ended up ninth in the lottery standings. But those 21 losses to start the season were worse than they appeared. Despite standing ninth in the lottery, Detroit matched Washington for the fifth worst margin of victory in the league. The pain for the Pistons was worse than the standings suggest, as the team tallied demoralizing loss after demoralizing loss.
After that 21st loss, the Pistons started figuring things out. While the schedule helped, the change was undeniable. After that 4-21 start, Detroit played .500 ball to finish the season.
When Detroit was finally playing playoff-caliber basketball, the rest of the lottery teams were figuring out how to lose. Toronto, Cleveland, New Jersey, and Golden State were all ahead of the Pistons in the standings at the trade deadline. They all leap-frogged Detroit on the gold rush of lottery-driven losses. Should they be rewarded for their failings, or should the basketball gods honor the team that went down to the lottery fighting its hardest in years?
Does Detroit need to win the lottery as bad as the Bobcats? No. Does Detroit deserve to win the lottery? Absolutely. It may go against common thought to reward a lottery team for winning, but the lottery was designed to prevent losing strategies. For a team so riddled with bad contracts, bad decisions and a rocky recent history, I think it's about time they deserve a break. And can you imagine a better pairing for Anthony Davis than Greg Monroe? Basketball gods, are you listening?
Aside from the aforementioned Greg Monroe, the basketball gods have been pretty rough on the Pistons over the last several years. While there are teams that are clearly in worse shape than the Pistons (see: Bobcats, Charlotte), it's hard to argue that there is a team as deserving as Detroit when the lottery balls drop tonight, homer or not.
Some may recall the involved debate here on DetroitBadBoys about whether or not the Pistons should sacrifice games to achieve a higher draft standing. I talked through my opinion in an article about How to Tank Properly, suggesting that the Pistons rotation experiments should have began weeks before the end of the season. Instead of adjusting and potentially losing games, Detroit soldiered on to the last possession of the year.
I feel this team does deserve to win the lottery. It's been through hell for the last three years and its about time that lady luck paid this franchise a visit. The fact that the Pistons fought from an abysmal start and changed into a .500 team overnight is pretty telling. The fact that the team did not tank when it probably should have is as much of an appeasement to the fates as you could ask for. Maybe the Detroit Pistons will finally catch a break tonight...
The other SB Nation bloggers presented some pretty solid cases themselves. Check out Ziller's article if you want to see the league-wide perspective.