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Newly elected Basketball Hall of Famer Ben Wallace tapped the table a few times with his fist, then clapped his hands and pointed a finger at the sky.
After one of the worst seasons in franchise history, Detroit has something to celebrate.
The Pistons won the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night, which means they’ll have the No. 1 pick on July 29th – and presumably a chance to take down Oklahoma State Guard Cade Cunningham.
“We can add another young player to the restoration process,” said Troy Weaver, Pistons general manager. “We are very happy to be in this position. But it means we have a lot to do. We’ll be hard at it, but it always helps to be able to add a number 1 out of a talented group of players to choose from. “
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Houston – which basically had a 50-50 odds to pick among the top four – received the No. 2 pick. Cleveland will vote # 3 and Toronto # 4 after both franchises got some lottery luck to move up in the order.
But the big winners were the Pistons, with Weaver saying the team will look at five players before settling on the # 1 pick. If Detroit doesn’t make the choice, it will vote # 1 overall for the first time since it was acquired by Bob Lanier in 1970.
And as if there was any doubt, Weaver said that Cunningham – only the fourth player to win the Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year awards in the same season – averaged 20.2 points per game in his only college season – at the “top” is the list. “
“It’s going to mean a lot. It will mean a lot to this team,” Wallace said on the ESPN broadcast of the lottery after serving as the team’s virtual representative for the event in Secaucus, New Jersey. “I think the team is on the right track.”
Orlando will receive selections # 5 and # 8, with Oklahoma City # 6 and Golden State also having two lottery slots – # 7, as part of a deal with Minnesota, and the Warriors’ own selection at # 14 .
The rest of the lottery results: Sacramento picks # 9, New Orleans # 10, Charlotte # 11, San Antonio # 12, and Indiana # 13.
The lottery – 14 table tennis balls, all numbered 1 to 14, placed in a funnel – technically only determines the first four picks. The rest is then done in a predefined order by default; Golden State, for example, only had a 2.4% chance that its own selection was anything other than number 14.
And the shape held through the first six picks that were revealed. The No. 8 pick that was deployed to Chicago ends with the Magic as part of the Nikola Vucevic trade starting this season. That was when the first significant move came when Toronto’s 31.9% chance to cash in on one of the top 4 slots was hit.
The Thunder will have three first-round picks, but none higher than # 6. This is good news for them, and really good news for Houston.
The Rockets had a 52 percent chance of winning a top 4 selection. The worst Houston could do was pick # 5 and that was really a worst case scenario because if the Rockets were outside the top 4 the pick would be part of the compensation for Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul trade between these teams will go to Oklahoma City in 2019. If Houston had gotten the number 5 in this scenario, it would have gone to the Thunder in exchange for the number 18.
But the Rockets held out and were given the number 2 as one of the building blocks to reload after the NBA’s worst record this season. Viewers may have figured out the order in front of Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, who chose not to watch the stressful countdown.
“I’ve decided that would probably be uncomfortable,” said Stone.
The consensus was that the number 1 will either be a varsity player – Cunningham, Southern California center Evan Mosley, or Gonzaga Guardian Jalen Suggs – or someone from the G League development program like Guardian Jalen Green or forward Jonathan Kuminga.
And as always, it will be a guessing game: most of the players expected as lottery tips are teenagers, mostly 19, some 18.
Sitting in third place gives the Cavs a chance to add another young player to their “core four” – Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, and Jared Allen – and perhaps find a player who can bring Cleveland back to relevance.
Cav’s General Manager Koby Altman believes that this design has more quality at the top than in previous years.
“There could also be potential all-stars beyond the top 5,” he said.
The rest of the first round is divided in that direction for now – Washington will pick 15th, followed by Oklahoma City, Memphis, Oklahoma City, New York, Atlanta, New York, the Los Angeles Lakers, then Houston in 23rd and No. 24, followed by the Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Utah.