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The Detroit Pistons are hoping to make a breakthrough in the 2024 NBA draft lottery
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The Detroit Pistons are hoping to make a breakthrough in the 2024 NBA draft lottery

Detroit should have taken a step forward last season and maybe even flirted with the possibility of being a top-tier team. Instead, the Pistons tumbled through the franchise’s worst season yet, going 14-68.

Changes are coming for the Pistons, with team owner Tom Gores announcing after the disastrous 2023-2024 season that he is looking for a president of basketball operations. The future of general manager Troy Weaver and head coach Monty Williams in Detroit also appears uncertain.

Clarity on the Pistons’ next decider should take shape in the near future.

But enough about that. No one wants to look back and repeat what went wrong. Instead, all eyes are on what lies ahead for the Pistons and this weekend that means the NBA Draft, with the lottery taking place on Sunday in Chicago.

The Pistons have the best odds of landing the top pick in next month’s draft. There is no obvious franchise-changing talent in this year’s prospect list and many players’ draft stock will evolve over the next month before the June 26-27 draft.

Either way, the Pistons could use some luck and good feelings. A No. 1 pick could produce just that.

The 2023 NBA draft lottery results will air on ABC at 3 p.m.

Here’s what you need to know:

How does the concept lottery work?

The NBA will use the lottery system to determine the top 14 picks in next month’s draft, using 1,001 different combinations involving 14 ping-pong balls. Detroit and Washington have the best odds to land the No. 1 overall pick, with each having a 14% chance.

Here’s a look at the remaining 12 teams’ chances of getting the top pick:

  • Charlotte (13.3%)
  • Portland (13.2%)
  • San Antonio (10.5%)
  • Toronto (9%)
  • Memphis (7.5%)
  • Utah (6%)
  • Houston from Brooklyn (4.5%)
  • Atlanta (3%)
  • Chicago (2%)
  • Houston (1.5%)
  • Sacramento (0.8%)
  • Golden State (0.7%)

The Pistons cannot finish lower than fifth overall and have a 52.13% chance of securing a top four spot. Last season, Detroit faced the worst-case scenario when it came to the lottery with the best odds of securing the No. 1 pick and selecting Victor Wembanyama, but managed to fall to No. 5 overall. The Pistons ultimately used that pick to draft Ausar Thompson.

Detroit has won the lottery just once since the NBA introduced the system in 1984. The Pistons earned the top pick of the 2021 draft, which they used to get Cade Cunningham.

More: Wojo: Lottery luck or not, Pistons need to blow it, starting with Weaver

What do the pistons need?

The easier question might be what they don’t need.

In terms of the roster, however, the most glaring area Detroit needs to address this season is shooting.

The Pistons were one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league last season, making just 34.8% of their attempts from behind the arc.

There are plenty of ways Detroit can address this outside of the draft, including free agency or orchestrating a trade, and that’s what they should try to do with whatever pick they get in the lottery.

But if they don’t, Alexandre Sarr could be an intriguing prospect for the Pistons because of their need for shooting in the frontcourt, especially depending on how the ping-pong balls fall on Sunday.

After all, the young Frenchman is in the conversation to go No. 1 overall, and Detroit is one of the few teams with the best odds of getting there. Sarr is a solid rim protector and could provide additional presence inside alongside Jalen Duren and Thompson, both of whom are expected to be back next season.

Who are some of the best players in the draft?

Alexandre Sarr, power forward/center for the Perth Wildcats of the Australian National Basketball League

Statistics 2023-24: Averaging 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks while shooting 52% from the field in 27 games

Dimensions: 7-foot-1, 216 pounds

Age: 19

Residence: Bordeaux, France

The skinny: Sarr spent two seasons at Overtime Elite before jumping to the NBL. His stats in the NBL may seem modest, but it’s worth noting that the competition is tougher than where he played the previous two seasons and he made a relatively seamless transition last season. That said, the NBA is much more physical and faster than the NBL, something Sarr can spend time adapting to. Still, Sarr has the size and should continue to build muscle as he continues to develop. There’s no doubt he’s an explosive force with a high ceiling.

Ron Holland, small/power forward for G League Ignite

Statistics 2023-24: Averaged 20.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 14 games

Dimensions: 6-foot-1, 208 pounds

Age: 18

Residence: Duncanville, Texas

The skinny: Holland has size that would raise eyebrows among scouts, as he has a 7-1 wingspan. It’s unclear how much the now-defunct G League Ignite’s embarrassing 2-32 season could possibly impact his draft stock. But Holland has the tools to be a strong NBA wing one day. For the time being, his calling card lies with the defense. He needs to improve as a shooter, as he shot 24% from three-point range last season, but he has shown the ability to create for himself and others.

Nikola Topic, point guard for the Serbian Mega MIS of the ABA League

Statistics 2023-24: Averaged 18.6 points, 6.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 13 games

Dimensions: 6-foot-4, 201 pounds

Age: 18

Residence: Novi Sad, Serbia

The skinny: Topic missed part of last season due to injuries, but the overall advantage of him is that he has an extraordinary feel for the game and great field vision. He is a strong ball handler and can control pace well. But like any prospect, there are many unknowns with Topic and the player he could blossom into. As of now, there are some concerns about his three-point shooting and defense and questions about his athleticism. Overall, though, he has the skills that would make him a valuable piece for a team in need of a lead point guard.

Matas Buzelis, power forward for G League Ignite

Statistics 2023-24: Averaged 14.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 26 games

Dimensions: 6-foot-1, 209 pounds

Age: 19

Residence: Chicago, Ill

The skinny: Buzelis has an impressive offensive bag and has the ability to score from all three levels, although he has struggled with inconsistency from behind the arc. Defensively, Buzelis is a work in progress, but he is a solid shot blocker and should be an intriguing prospect for a team looking to add size given his high upside.

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