Worst-Record Pistons Have Unlucky Draft Lottery Once Again, Slide from No. 1 To No. 5 For The Second Year In A Row

The Pistons finished with the worst record in franchise history this season (14-68) and had the best odds in the NBA Draft lottery to land the No. 1 overall pick, but will end up with the fifth pick, just like last year.

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Detroit Pistons (C) sits on the bench alongside Jaden Ivey #23 during the second half of the game against the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on November 19, 2023 in Toronto. (Getty)

That being said, there has never been a team in NBA history that has dropped from No. 1 to No. 5 in the lottery, and now it has happened to the Pistons two consecutive seasons. Moreover, this actually makes it the third year in a row they have been given the No. 5 pick selection, as the Pistons also had the worst record last season (17-65), and drafted Ausar Thompson (2023 draft), then they had the third-worst record (23-59) during the 2021-2022 season, and drafted Jaden Ivey (2022 draft) fifth overall.

To put into perspective how consistent the Pistons’ struggles have been, this is the fourth year in a row, the Pistons had the best/tied best odds to land the number one pick, and the only time it worked out in their favor was in 2021, when Cade Cunningham was selected first overall.

Provided that, if the NBA Draft lottery went in Detroit’s favor, they would have had Paolo Banchero (2022 draft), Victor Wembanyama (2023 draft), Alexandre Sarr (2024 projected first pick).

Before Cunningham, From 2016 to 2020, here are the last four first-round draft selections for the Pistons: Henry Ellenson (2016; 18th), Luke Kennard (2017; 12th), Sekou Doumbouya (2019; 15th), Killian Hayes (2020; 7th).

Seemingly, the Pistons can’t catch a break in the lottery or draft, as it is a bitter reminder to point out, this is the same franchise that famously drafted Darko Milicic with the second overall pick in 2003, instead of Carmelo Anthony. Throughout his 10-year NBA career, Milicic averaged 6.0 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 18.5 minutes per game; Anthony had career averages of 22.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, and is currently No. 10 on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

When looking at this year’s upcoming draft, the Pistons will look to build around their young core, the team’s last three draft selections that include: 22-year-old, Cunningham (22.7 points, 7.5 assists), 21-year-old, Ivey (15.4 points), 21-year-old, Thompson (8.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals). In addition, the team may have found a future stable big man in 20-year-old Jalen Duren (13.8 points, 11.6 rebounds). 

With that in mind, when previewing the 2024 draft class, they might consider adding a two-way player, ideally someone that can protect the rim and shoot the deep ball, as the Pistons gave up the fifth-most points per game to opponents this season (119.0), including 54.4 paint points (4th-worst). While the team’s offense made the least amount of three-pointers per game (11.0) on 34.8% 3-PT shooting (5th-worst).

The young Pistons team needs some shooters that can defend, and ideally a 3-and-D type draft prospect that can be a complementary fit. Some potential draft selections for Detroit include forward Matas Buzelis (6’8”, 209 pounds) from G-League Ignite, who draws comparisons to that of Hedo Turkoglu. Buzelis can stretch the floor, playing off the ball with Cunningham and Ivey. And he can develop his offensive game to become an elite shotmaker, helping space the floor, playing alongside Thompson on the wing. Buzelis averaged 14.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks in 26 G-League games this past season.

Also a 3-and-D archetype player Cody Williams (6’9”, 190 pounds) from Colorado may be an option, when considering his ability to guard multiple positions, and knock down shots as a catch-and-shoot type forward. Williams averaged 11.9 points on 41.9% shooting from beyond the arc in 24 games played during his freshman campaign.

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