The NBA Draft Lottery is almost here. The most consequential date the Detroit Pistons and its fans have faced in years. The Pistons are mainstays in the lottery, don’t get me wrong. But rarely do the Pistons have even halfway decent odds of grabbing a third pick.
With the second-worst record in the NBA, the Pistons have a 14% chance of landing the first pick and can fall no lower than sixth. The Pistons have only picked sixth or higher three times since 1981, and only twice with their own pick. Those two selections were Isiah Thomas and Grant Hill. The third, courtesy of the Memphis Grizzlies, was Darko Milicic.
This is also when I am obligated to tell you that the Detroit Pistons have never moved up in the Draft Lottery era. Only down or stayed put.
NBA Draft Lottery Vitals
When: Tuesday, June 22, at 8:30 p.m.
Where: ESPN Studios
NBA Draft Lottery Odds
The Detroit Pistons join the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic with identical odds at nabbing a top-4 pick. That would be a 14% chance at No. 1, 13.4% chance at No. 2, 12.7% at No. 3 and 11.9% at No. 4. Altogether, that is is a 52% chance at a top-4 pick.
Because the lottery odds are so flat, the Pistons most likely singular move would be to fall to No. 5 in the draft with a 27.8% chance. Finally, they have a 20.1% chance of falling to sixth.
If you’re more of a visual person, here is the official chart from the indispensable site Tankathon.
3 Questions Every Pistons Fan Must Ask
While we all live in paranoia, despair, excitement and panic for the next 30+plus hours, it is important that Pistons fans are able to ask themselves three important questions. Get your answers ready along with your celebration beer or sadness gin.
1. How confident are you the Pistons land a top-2 pick?
Everyone has their own tiers for the upcoming NBA Draft, but the consensus is that this draft has a pretty clear No. 1 in Cade Cunningham and a pretty clear No. 2 in Evan Mobley. How much of a drop off after that to the next tier is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I think it’s a pretty sizable drop from Mobley to the Greens, Kumingas, Suggs and [insert name of your favorite player here] of the world. The odds tell me the Pistons have just about equal odds of landing a top-2 pick as they do of falling to 5.
You can look at this two ways. First, you could tell yourself the Pistons are gonna Piston and they always fall therefore they will always fall. That means no top 2 pick. Or you could be an irrational, wide-eyed optimist who believes in the basketball gods, karma and justice. The Detroit Pistons have been mired in the slop of sub-mediocrity for a decade, they finally have a path forward, they finally seem to have some quality people running the show. Now is the time for a little luck, damn it.
Join me in my irrational exuberance. Or not. But you have to make a choice going in.
2. If the Pistons fall, how far can they fall before you start getting worried/depressed?
You can think of this as, what is the worst-case-scenario that is not actually a worst-case-scenario, but the only one my brain and my heart will allow me to entertain? Look, we all WANT the Pistons to land the first pick and Cade Cunningham. That’s what every fan wants for their team.
I am also really high on Mobley for his ability to seemingly guard in all three zones on the floor, switch capably and score efficiently and with a reliable jump shot. I’d be unbelievably hyped if the Pistons landed at No. 2.
At No. 3, I get much sadder, but then I use my fan brain to quickly talk myself into the overwhelming scoring ability of Jalen Green. The scorer the Pistons have lacked forever and seemingly keep passing in every draft only to quickly regret it (cough, cough, Devin Booker, cough, cough, Donovan Mitchell).
I can easily accept No. 3 and start talking myself into a Pistons development program to coach up Green.
It’s after that where things get really dicey. And then after four, I feel like the talent is much less obvious and you are really relying on Troy Weaver’s scouting acumen and a whole lot of luck.
So where is your number?
3. What is your contingency plan?
If you have a not-quite-worst-case-scenario then you also need a “break glass in case of emergency” contingency plan. If the Pistons fall to that four, five or six range, what do you want the team to do?
Does the team draft Jalen Suggs as a pseudo Tyrese Haliburton do-over? Does the team happily take Kuminga or Scottie Barnes or Josh Giddey? Do the work to package the pick and something else to trade up? Do they capitalize on another team’s love for Suggs, Barnes or Davion Mitchell and trade down to the oft-mentioned James Bouknight area of the draft?
Every family, and every fan base, needs an emergency escape plan. What is yours for the NBA Draft?
Only a little over 24 hours until the Pistons, and its fans, learn their fates. Let’s be excited and nervous and get nothing productive done until the draft lottery together. Then ... we drink!