It’s a funny feeling.
For much of the past decade, Detroit Pistons fans have craved playoff success. Twice, we’ve gotten a taste of the “playoff” part, but the “success” remains elusive. Rather, each year, when the playoffs roll around, it’s less about rooting for series wins ... and more about lottery luck.
The NBA Draft Lottery is a labor of love, excitement, and, most importantly, pain.
For this franchise, it’s almost always the latter. I, nay, we, enter this day every year with the same optimism and excitement. We spend at least 20 minutes aimlessly playing with the ESPN/Tankathon lottery simulators before stopping when we land the top pick.
“This is our chance,” we scream to any sports fan within shouting distance.
“I know we’re finally getting lucky this year,” we tell our friends, but really we tell ourselves because we know what’s to come.
“We DESERVE this,” we think to ourselves throughout the day because it makes us feel a little better.
Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure why we anticipate this stupid night so much.
It’s been 10 years of (mostly) disappointment, yet we continue to convince ourselves that something good is finally going to happen, that things are going to break the right way for this franchise in a tangible way.
And then it always ends the same:
The lottery began in 1985, but the Pistons’ first appearance came in 1993. Their pick has landed in the lottery 13 times, which somehow feels light compared to how much of a drag the past decade has been.
That pick has never moved up in the lottery, but it has moved back four times.
If we had to figure out a name for picking at No. 7, 8 or 9 in the lottery, you would almost have to name it after the Pistons: they’ve picked in that range eight times. Nobody calls the mid-lottery home more often than Detroit.
The Pistons don’t do much well on the court, but they are good at never being good enough to make the playoffs and never being bad enough to land in the top three.
The only time they entered the lottery with a greater than 5.3% chance of landing the top pick — which is less than the 10.5% chance they have tonight — was 1994 when they had the second-best odds.
They, of course, moved back one spot, but landed a generational talent in Grant Hill.
The Pistons have drafted three All-Stars in the lottery. Can you guess who?
No, Rodney White was not a correct answer!
The three are Grant Hill, Allan Houston and old friend Andre Drummond.
Tonight, they’ll look to make it four All-Stars in a draft that, quite honestly, might not have any. It would be fitting if this was the year the Pistons finally broke through, the year the lottery balls bounced their way.
The 2020 NBA Draft is filled with question marks and enigmas, a group of players who might just be good enough to help your team but never good enough to lead your team to the promise land.
Maybe we flip our mindset this year. Rather than hoping for the best and expecting the worst, we expect the best and hope for the worst. Maybe Troy Weaver is a genius, and it doesn’t matter where the Pistons pick. He’ll find the right guy.
All I know is I’ll be sweating this all day and on the edge of my seat at 8:30 p.m.