The Detroit Pistons couldn’t get the lottery luck for a second year in a row.
Detroit fell two spots and landed the No. 5 selection in the 2022 draft during Tuesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago.
It represents the second time in franchise history that the Pistons have fallen exactly two spots in the draft. Detroit fell to No. 7 in the 2020 draft and selected Killian Hayes.
The Orlando Magic won the right to select No. 1 for the fourth time in franchise history. The Oklahoma City will pick second, 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 in the top four.
The lottery determined the top four picks in this year’s draft, with the remaining lottery teams selecting in positions 5-14 in inverse order of 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 picks 1-4 were all won by teams outside of the top four.
Had the Pistons get the No. 1 pick again, they would have joined the Cleveland Cavaliers (2013 and ’14), Orlando Magic (1992 and ’93) and Houston Rockets (1983 and ’84) to earn back-to-back top picks.
In earning the right to select Cunningham out of Oklahoma State with last year’s No. 1 pick, the Pistons have appeared to expedite their rebuild. Cunningham, a 6-foot-6 guard, started in all 64 of his appearances this past season and averaged 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists.
He finished third in NBA Rookie of the Year voting behind Toronto’s Scottie Barnes, who won the award after being drafted fourth, and Cleveland’s Evan Mobley, taken by the Cavaliers with pick No. 3.
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While there isn’t a consensus No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, staying inside the top four does seem equally as important. Four players are thought to be in the top tier of prospects in this year’s draft: Forwards Jabari Smith (Auburn), Paolo Banchero (Duke) and Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga) are all poised to contend for the No. 1 selection, with guard Jaden Ivey (Purdue) close behind.
Heading into this year’s lottery, the Pistons in 15 tries had moved up in the lottery just once, when they leapfrogged Houston from the No. 2 position last year. Detroit moved down in the lottery in six of those years and remained in their pre-lottery position on eight occasions.
The Pistons on Tuesday matched their biggest fall in the lottery in 2020, when the Chicago Bulls (from the No. 7 spot) and Charlotte Hornets (from No. 8) both moved up into the top four.
The 2021 and 2022 lotteries represented the Pistons’ best odds at the No. 1 pick since 1994, when a 16.4% chance at the top resulted in a fall to No. 3, where Detroit selected Grant Hill.
Ben Wallace represented the Pistons at 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 at the lottery.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.