Detroit Pistons: Draft Lottery history, 2021 preview, and player tiers

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons were undeniably one of the worst teams in the league last year. Their 20 wins and 52 losses (.278) were the second-worst record of the year, behind the Houston Rockets. In a just world, the Pistons would be selecting second, but the odds of the lottery are not always fair.

They dropped twelve of the final fourteen games to qualify for that second-to-last mark. The team was not necessarily trying to lose all of those games, of course, but mid-season trades led to future capital rather than current assets, so the Pistons had to make do with what they had. They are rebuilding, after all.

There is a fairly clear list of three players who make up the top tier of this year’s draft class: guards Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga), and center Evan Mobley (USC). Most likely, they will be the top three selections–in some order.

At 14%, the Detroit Pistons will have a healthy shot at the first overall pick and a 52% chance at landing one in the top four.

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If the Pistons net any pick in the top three (40.1%), they essentially have a can’t-miss choice. They will end up with a phenomenal guard in either Cunningham or Suggs, or they can grab Mobley, who would make for an intriguing frontcourt with Isaiah Stewart. Any of those three players will immediately make a difference on next year’s squad.

If they fall to the fourth or fifth spot (39.7%), they are probably considering one of the G League players, Jonathan Kuminga or Jalen Green. Either one would give them a young player with the experience of playing alongside veterans.

While Green has a place in the shooting guard depth chart, however, there is a question of fit for Kuminga. He plays the same role currently filled by Saddiq Bey, and he is not as strong of a shooter.

Things would get very interesting if the Pistons fall all the way to sixth, which has a 1 in 5 chance of happening. The good news? Barring a trade, sixth is literally as low as the Pistons can possibly go.

Falling four spots would definitely not be ideal, but it does not mean there is not some talent to be found. At this point, the Pistons could be looking at someone like the hometown-adjacent forward from Michigan, Franz Wagner. There is only a 20.1% chance of that happening, though. Right?

If you have been following Detroit sports for any length of time, you are probably familiar with the unluckiness surrounding the Draft Lottery. If not, here is a brief overview. The NBA Draft Lottery has been happening, in some form, since the mid-1980s. In that time, the Pistons have had fourteen lottery picks and never moved up once. In six of those years, they actually slipped backward.

This trend is not limited to just the Detroit Pistons, either. Earlier this month, the Red Wings earned the sixth pick, which is exactly where they were projected. Just a year ago, though, they had the best odds in the league at the first overall pick.

They ended up picking fourth. They dropped in the two drafts before then, as well. There may be a lot of superstition in sports, but even this trend has to stop at some point. Surely.

It is difficult to begin making educated guesses or mock drafts without knowing who will be picking where. For the Detroit Pistons and the rest of the league, the answers to those questions will be made clear on Tuesday evening.

Next. Free Agency: Who to walk away from and who to re-sign. dark

The lottery will be broadcast live on ESPN at 8:30 EDT.