2014 NBA Draft: Pistons have 82.4 percent chance of keeping their draft pick

Mike Stobe

You've gotta ask yourself a question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk? I play with ESPN's Draft Lottery Machine and, well, the results speak for themselves.

The Detroit Pistons entered the final day of their NBA season with a chance of dropping one more spot in the standings and being a coin flip away from securing a 98.1 percent chance of keeping their draft pick in the well-regarded 2014 NBA Draft.

The Pistons needed to lose their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (success) and the Sacramento Kings to beat the recently eliminated, Goran Dragic-less Phoenix Suns (failure).

But at least we now know where the Pistons stand and at least it's not in the "no man's land" of almost assuredly losing their pick to the Charlotte Bobcats and also not anywhere close to sniffing the playoffs.

As a refresher, the Pistons owe the Bobcats a first-round pick as part of the Ben Gordon salary  dump last year. The pick is top-eight protected this year and top-one protected next year.

The Pistons finish the year at No. 8 in the lottery standings. This means that the team has an 82.4 percent chance of keeping their pick. Or, if you're a pessimist, a 17.6 chance of losing it. And 33 days to be paranoid that luck is not on their side.

But the Tank Watch is over, and we can hope that by this time next season we're doing NBA playoff previews instead of NBA lottery stories.

Be careful what you wish for

While some fans might be bummed that the Pistons didn't secure a tie with the Kings for the No. 7 spot it's worth remembering the last time the Pistons found themselves in a coin-flip situation. The year was 2010 and the Pistons had the same odds as the Philadelphia 76ers heading into the lottery. The 76ers, though, jumped up to the No. 2 pick while the Pistons had to settle for pick No. 7. Disaster, right? Uhh, nope.

With the No. 2 pick the Sixers selected do-it-all Ohio State point guard Evan Turner. Detroit, meanwhile, selected Greg Monroe who was noted for being a gifted passer but with limited athleticism and questionable motor and love for the game.

Nothing exemplifies how much of a crap shoot the NBA Draft is than this reaction from Sports Illustrated following the Sixers draft:

Is Evan Turner going to be a good player? No question. Was he the consensus No. 2 pick? Absolutely. Is he going to be better than Wesley Johnson in three years? Ehhhhh. Turner was a no-brainer: He's polished, mature and a natural two-guard who, along with Jrue Holiday, gives Philly a dynamic backcourt that will be entrenched on Broad St. for the next decade. But Johnson was the high-riser in the 2010 draft, with every team -- including the Sixers -- gushing over his workouts.

Breaking Down the Numbers

Draft Pick Percent Chance
No. 1 2.8%
No. 2 3.3%
No. 3 3.9%
Top 3 10%
No. 8 72.4%
Keep Pick 82.4%
No. 9 16.8%
No. 10 0.8%
Lose Pick 17.6%


Playing with the Draft Lottery Machine

I'll be honest with you. I'm almost paranoid to dive too deeply into NBA Draft prospects because it almost feels like I'm inviting bad mojo. But I will, in the sake of full reportage, use ESPN's 2014 NBA LOttery Mock Draft and see if I can get a reading for the top 3 picks and No. 8. This should be an exercise in either my supreme lack of luck or a straightforward view in how likely/unlikely the Pistons lottery results will be. The results:

Attempt No. 1: Uggggggh, The Cleveland Cavaliers jump to spot No. 3, select Joel Embiid and the Pistons lose their draft pick to the Bobcats, who select Noah Vonleh. This is like a cruel joke. I hate bad mojo.

Attempt No. 2.: The Pistons keep their draft pick and select Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis. Chad Ford's breakdown:

None of the more celebrated freshmen have been better than Ennis this season. He has a perfect blend between scoring and distributing the basketball. He's not an elite athlete, but that's about the only knock against the steady Ennis.

Noted without further comment.

Attempt No. 3: Variety is the spice of life. Ennis is off the board and the Pistons select Arizona power forward Aaron Gordon. Ford's breakdown:

None of the more celebrated freshmen have been better than Ennis this season. He has a perfect blend between scoring and distributing the basketball. He's not an elite athlete, but that's about the only knock against the steady Ennis.

Attempt No. 4: Ennis

Attempt No. 5: Ennis

Attempt No. 6 Ennis

Attempt No. 7: Pelicans jump to No. 1, select Jabari Parker, Pistons lose pick. Boo

Attempt No. 8: Pelicans jump to No. 2, select Parker, Pistons lose pick. F-U Anthony Davis. Andre Drummond is coming for you.

Attempt No. 9: Ennis

Attempt No. 10: Ennis

Attempt No. 11: Ennis

Attempt No. 12: Finally land a top-3 pick. Andre Wiggins goes No. 1 to the Boston Celtics and Parker goes No. 2 to the Detroit Pistons. Ford's breakdown of Parker:

Parker is a scoring machine with a high basketball IQ and is perhaps the most NBA-ready player at the top of the draft. He is a leader with a terrific work ethic and can play multiple positions. The main knocks against him are his lack of elite defensive talent and his occasional struggles against long, athletic defenders.

Attempt No. 13: Ennis

Attempt No. 14: Ennis

Attempt No. 15: Ennis

Attempt No. 16: Gordon

Attempt No. 17: Gordon

Attempt No. 18: Cavs jump again and select Embiid at No. 3. Pistons lose pick.

Attempt No. 19: Ennis

Attempt No. 20: I hate the Cavs. They jump again and select Parker first overall. Pistons lose pick.

Attempt No. 21: Ennis

Attempt No. 22: Ennis

Attempt No. 23: Gordon

Attempt No. 24: Ennis

Attempt No. 25: Ennis

Attempt No. 26: Ennis

Attempt No. 27: Ennis

Attempt No. 28: Suns leap all the way to No. 3. Not bad for a 0.7% odds. They select Embiid and Pistons lose pick.

Attempt No.29: Ennis

Attempt No. 30: Gordon

Attempt No.31: Ennis

Attempt No. 32: Cavs jump up and select Wiggins at No. 2. Pistons lose pick.

Attempt No. 33: Ennis

Attempt No. 34: Gordon

Attempt No. 35: Ennis

Attempt No. 36: The 36th time is the charm! Pistons get the first pick and select Parker.

Attempt No. 37: Gordon

Attempt No. 38: Ennis

Attempt No. 39: Ennis

Attempt No. 40: Cavs jump to No. 2 and select Parker. Pistons lose pick.

Attempt No. 41: Ennis

Attempt No. 42: Ennis

Attempt No. 43: Ennis

Attempt No. 44: Ennis

Attempt No. 45: Ennis

Attempt No. 46: Ennis

Attempt No. 47: Gordon

Attempt No.48: Ennis

Attempt No. 49: Ennis

Attempt No. 50: Pistons pick No. 3 and with Parker and Andrew Wiggins off the board select Austrailian point guard Dante Exum. Ford's breakdown:

Exum can play both guard positions and has the ideal blend of athleticism and skill. He is very quick with the ball and gets to the rim almost effortlessly. His jump shot is still a work in progress -- the primary weakness in his game. If he were playing in the U.S., he would be a contender for the No. 1 overall pick.

There it is. Took 50 picks to land spots Nos. 1, 2, 3, 8 and ugh ... 9.

By my count that is Ennis 31 times, Gordon eight times, Parker twice, Exum once, and lose the pick eight times. And no sense if the Pistons have Wiggins or Exum No. 2 on their board (in Chard Ford's estimation).

I'm not very mathematically inclined, and I will let those more well-versed in numbers to breakdown how I performed in 50 spins at the wheel but my unscientific though is ... don't let me anywhere near the Pistons on draft night.

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