Once again in what has become an annual tradition the Detroit Pistons did not move up in this week’s NBA draft lottery. For better or worse, this draft will be unlike any other. With the college season canceled in mid-March and no workouts for teams possible due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, teams will struggle to learn about prospects and it will hamper the pre-draft process.
It’s going to be a bizarre draft to say the least. With essentially everything we know about these prospects frozen in the amber of time as of March 11th, any movement in the perceived order on the big boards of either teams or draft analysts will be largely based on the perspective and subjective whims of the person or group at hand, rather than anything necessarily based in clear development or outstanding performances.
The Detroit Pistons will have their own goals and perspectives in this draft, and they’ll have a brand new first-time general manager in Troy Weaver to call the shots. And for the first time in quite a while, their general manager will be somebody with a track record of success in the draft with hits on players like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as Sam Presti’s right hand man with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
We’ll take a look at five key takeaways from the NBA draft lottery and what comes next for the Detroit Pistons.
5. The Pistons Never Move Up
The Detroit Pistons have never moved up in the NBA draft lottery with their own pick. Famously, they have moved up with another team’s pick, that of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2003, and Darko Milicic was the fruit of their great fortune. Contrast that with the lottery luck some franchises like the Cleveland Cavaliers have enjoyed, and it gets tough to take decade after decade. However, if there’s a draft to not skyrocket to the top with their 10.5% chance at the No. 1 pick, this is it. On the plus side, on the wide range of the spectrum for the Pistons to end up, they finished seventh, where they were statistically most likely to (26.7% of the time), but falling to ninth (0.6% of the time) would have been a real killer.
4. This Is The Draft To Lose
You don’t want to lose at anything in the NBA, especially when winning can lead to finding a talent that can bring your franchise out of the wilderness into the promised land. However, if there’s a lottery to lose, this is the one. There isn’t a clear No. 1 pick, and the gap between the perceived top tier and second tier of players is smaller than ever. Generally speaking the top pick or two are head and shoulders better than the rest, but in this draft that may not be the case. For once, there’s an entirely reasonable chance that a player chosen late in the top 10 can have a career even better than whoever goes first overall, so this may be a blessing for more than one reason.
3. No. 7 Is Cheaper Than No. 1
With the knowledge that the seventh pick could end up being just as good as the first pick, the financials become relevant. The official cap numbers are yet to be released by the NBA and could vary significantly from their current projections, but as of right now the first three years on the No. 1 pick’s rookie scale will be worth $27 million, while the first three years on the No. 7 pick’s rookie scale are set at $14.68 million. You pay for talent when you can get it, but when the gap should be marginal (especially with the league’s uncertain short-term financial future as it deals with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic), savings are appreciated.
2. Take The Best Player Available, Now More Than Ever
In the NBA draft, there’s one way to success. Especially in the lottery, where teams generally have glaring flaws, you take the best player and sort everything out later. As for the Detroit Pistons, with few pieces on the roster who are certain to be a part of their future, it’s the only recipe for success. Beyond last year’s first-round pick Sekou Doumbouya, there’s nothing sacred on this team, and even Doumbouya can certainly be moved for the right price. Whoever Troy Weaver determines is the best player will be the pick, regardless of perceived fit.
1. The Detroit Pistons are not trading this pick
Here’s a bold prediction for the Pistons in the NBA draft: They won’t trade it. Considering the dubious trade value of all picks in the draft, we may see very few deals involving draft picks at all, but in this draft, the first of Troy Weaver’s career as general manager, you’ll see the Detroit Pistons pick seventh.