Detroit Pistons fans were disappointed with Tuesday night’s NBA Draft lottery results in Chicago.
Pistons general manager Troy Weaver on the other hand? Not really.
Detroit, for the second time in franchise history, dropped exactly two spots in the lottery and received the No. 5 pick in the 2022 NBA draft, which is scheduled to take place on June 23.
And while there’s talk of a “big three” in their own tier at the top of the draft, where many Pistons fans hoped to land, Weaver certainly doesn’t see it that way. Forwards Jabari Smith (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke) and Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) are all set to challenge for the No. 1 selection, with guard Jaden Ivey (Purdue) close behind.
“I don’t see it as a ‘big three,'” Weaver said. “I think there are great players all across the board. Length – everyone wants to add length and height. We’ll pick the best player for us. Length, height, speed, it doesn’t matter. really doesn’t matter. We’ll pick the best player for the Pistons. We’re very comfortable with the guys along the board in the lottery.
The other case of Detroit dropping two spots came in 2020, when Detroit fell to No. 7 and selected Killian Hayes.
There’s no consensus No. 1 pick in this year’s draft — unlike last season, when the Pistons nabbed Cade Cunningham with the top pick — but Weaver said he doesn’t see the talent in this year as much a decline- from a year ago.
“I like this draft as much as last year’s draft. It can be debated, but I’m comfortable with players who are projected in the top half of the lottery,” Weaver said.
“I think it compares very well to last year’s picks.”
There’s still plenty of pre-draft scouting to do — including the NBA Combine, which started Monday and will run through Sunday — but Weaver said “there’s no disappointment with the where we choose” and that he would be comfortable making his selection today, if necessary.
“We could choose number 5 right now. We want to continue dealing, but if we had to choose today, yes, I’m sure we could choose someone we’d be happy with, that’s for sure,” Weaver said.
The Orlando Magic has won the right to select No. 1 for the fourth time in franchise history. The Oklahoma City Thunder will pick second, the Houston Rockets third and the Sacramento Kings fourth.
The Pistons, Rockets and Magic all had an equal chance of winning the lottery at 14% and a 52.14% chance of picking the top four. Detroit had a 14.84% chance of landing the fifth pick; their most likely selection was No. 6 at 26%, so it could be argued that the Pistons exceeded expectations.
After: Niyo: Pistons seek luck, another building block of the NBA Draft lottery
As for how he will approach the No. 5 selection, Weaver said he plans to factor his current roster into his decision.
“Absolutely, we’re going to pick a guy who best fits our organization moving forward,” Weaver said. “He’ll have the same attributes as those other guys. You absolutely consider Cade and the rest of the guys, especially because those guys have so many similarities.”
By earning the right to select Cunningham out of Oklahoma State with last year’s No. 1 pick, the Pistons seemed to accelerate their rebuilding. Cunningham, a 6-foot-6 guard, started in all 64 appearances last season and averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists.
He finished third in the NBA Rookie of the Year rankings voting behind Scottie Barnes of Toronto, who won the award after being drafted fourth, and Evan Mobley of Cleveland, chosen by the Cavaliers with the No. 3 pick.
While Cunningham’s selection at No. 1 was certainly a success, Weaver didn’t need lottery luck to add talent in his first draft as GM Pistons. Isaiah Stewart (pick No. 16) and Saddiq Bey (pick No. 19) both made All-Rookie teams after being selected out of the lottery in 2020.
Cunningham has yet to be named to the All-Rookie Team for the 2021-22 season, but it’s safe to assume, based on the Rookie of the Year vote, that he’ll be on that list when it does. will be announced.
“There’s a certain culture here. Work hard, be selfless. Coach (Dwane) Casey’s coaching staff did that,” Weaver said. “We’re confident because the last two drafts we’ve had three rookies, so we’re very comfortable with our culture here and what our coaches have been able to do with these young players.”
The lottery determined the top four picks in this year’s draft, with the remaining lottery teams selecting positions 5-14 in reverse order from their 2021-22 record.
The Pistons finished with the third-worst record (23-59), behind Houston and Orlando, meaning they had the ability to pick as low as No. 7 if the 1-4 picks were all won by teams outside of the top four.
The Kings were the only team to make that leap, landing a pick they had an 8.52% chance of getting before the night.
Ben Wallace represented the Pistons in the 2021 draft. This year they were represented by another member of the “Goin’ to Work” era in Richard “Rip” Hamilton, who had his famous mask on stage with him in the lottery .
Heading into this year’s lottery, the Pistons in 15 tries had advanced only once in the lottery, when they passed second-place Houston last year. Detroit fell back in the lottery in six of those years and stayed in its pre-lottery position eight times.
The Pistons tied their biggest lottery drop of 2020 on Tuesday, when the Chicago Bulls (from 7th place) and the Charlotte Hornets (from 8th place) both cracked the top four.
1. Orlando Magic
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
3. Houston Rockets
4. Kings of Sacramento
5. Detroit Pistons
6. Indiana Pacers
7. Portland Trail Blazers
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Los Angeles Lakers)
9. San Antonio Spurs
10. Wizards of Washington
11. New York Knicks
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers)
13. Charlotte’s Hornets
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.