Pistons to select 5th following NBA Draft Lottery:  Weaver confident they’ll find talent

Pistons fans needn’t worry about being spoiled by lottery luck. After breaking a streak of 13 trips to the lottery last year without making it to the top by winning the No. 1, things returned to form on Tuesday as the Pistons dropped two places and in the June 23 draft took fifth place.

Orlando entered the lottery for No. 2 – just like the Pistons did last year – and ended up winning the top pick. Oklahoma City moved up from fourth to second, Houston from first to third, and Sacramento was the biggest mover, moving up from seventh to fourth. The lottery will determine the top four picks from among the non-playoff teams; the order thereafter is determined by recording.

The fifth-place pick likely means the three college freshmen expected to play primarily as power forwards in the NBA — Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Dukes Paolo Banchero and Auburn’s Jabari Smith — and believe the top-3 -Picks since the start of the college season will be out of reach for the Pistons.

However, Pistons general manager Troy Weaver has at least publicly denied the notion of the top 3 and a noticeable drop in talent.

“I don’t see it as a big three,” he said. “I think there are great players across the board. LENGTH – Everyone wants to add length and height. I think you can get in trouble if you reach for it. Portland, if they could draft again, they would pick (Michael) Jordan over (Sam) Bowie, who had length and height. We will design the best player for us.”

Purdue guard Jaden Ivy seems the most likely to crack this lead when someone does. Others who could be in the top five include Iowa’s Keegan Murray, Duke’s AJ Griffin, Memphis’ Jalen Duren, Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin, and Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe, who enrolled midseason and didn’t play a single game.

Whichever player takes the Pistons will join a select company. Aside from first-pick Cunningham in 2021, the Pistons have not had their own top-five pick since Third-pick Grant Hill in 1994. Before that, their last top five pick came in 1981, before that the lottery when they took Isiah Thomas. They chose Darko Milicic with number 2 in 2003 after receiving this selection from Memphis in stores.

Rip Hamilton represented the Pistons on the podium for the lottery, which was held in person this year after being run remotely for the past two years. On the tabletop with Hamilton lay the mask he had worn for most of his Pistons career after suffering multiple broken noses. A year ago, Hamilton’s 2004 NBA Championship Pistons teammate Ben Wallace represented the Pistons.

Weaver said if the draft were to be held immediately he would be willing to pick a player and feel confident adding a young core that includes a handful of players from the last two drafts including Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, Killian Hayes and Isaiah Livers.

“We will pick five and prepare for five. We’ll do our homework, check everything. So there’s no disappointment,” he said. “We are delighted to be able to design number five. We look forward to making that choice and we will be ready to go to draft night.”

Since its inception in 1985, a team has won lotteries only twice in a row. Orlando won in 1992 (Shaquille O’Neal) and 1993 (Chris Webber) and Cleveland won in 2013 (Anthony Bennett) and 2014 (Andrew Wiggins). Philadelphia had No. 1 picks in both 2016 (Ben Simmons) and 2017 (Markelle Fultz), but the 76ers landed 17 No. 3 picks and traded them and other considerations to Boston to make the first pick.

The Pistons went 51 years between No. 1 picks, taking Hall of Famer Bob Lanier – who died last week aged 73 – in 1970 before taking Cunningham last summer.

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