Being one of the worst teams in the 2020-21 season has paid off for the Detroit Pistons as the franchise now possesses the first overall selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. This was the result of the league’s annual draft lottery held on Tuesday night.
The Pistons finished the regular season with a 20-52 record, which was the worst in the Eastern Conference and second-worst in the league, which tied them for the best odds for the No. 1 pick. The Houston Rockets, who finished 2020-21 with the worst record at 17-55 got the second overall selection.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who were tied for fourth-best odds to get the top spot, will choose third followed by the Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic.
The Magic will have two selections in the lottery, landing the No. 8 pick via Chicago Bulls. The same goes for the Golden State Warriors, who will have the Minnesota Timberwolves’ pick at No. 7 and their own at No. 14.
This will be the first time that the Pistons get to select first since 1970 when they took Hall of Famer Bob Lainer. Detroit was in the top five last time in 2003, when they took Serbia’s Darko Milicic with the second overall pick.
The No. 1 pick will help the Pistons fast-track their rebuilding process that started the last offseason. They will presumably take Oklahoma State’s guard Cade Cunningham, who was projected as the top selection for the better part of the year.
Cunningham averaged 20.1 points in his freshman season at Oklahoma while adding 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as well.
“Obviously we get to add another wing player to the restoration process,” said Pistons general manager Troy Weaver after the lottery. “We’re excited to be in this position. But it means that we’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’re going to be diligent about it. But it always helps to be able to add the No. 1 pick.”