May 17, 2023 - Sports

Pistons miss out on Wembanyama in draft disaster

VIctor Wembanyama reacts during a recent game

Victor Wembanyama reacts during an April 8 game between his Metropolitans 92 team and Strasbourg. Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Detroit's lottery ticket was a loser.

Driving the news: Despite posting the league's worst record last season, the Pistons failed to land the top pick in this summer's NBA Draft after last night's NBA Draft Lottery.

  • In fact, the worst-case scenario unfolded: Detroit ended up with the No. 5 pick.
  • It was the lowest possible pick for the 17-win Pistons.

Why it matters: The Pistons missed a once-in-a-generation chance to put its rebuild into overdrive by drafting 7-foot-4 French phenom Victor Wembanyama, considered the best prospect since LeBron James.

  • In France, Wembanyama's games and practices are packed with NBA executives, while corporations incessantly pitch endorsement deals, ESPN reports. His arrival would've given Detroit a newfound international profile.
  • Falling to the fifth slot puts more pressure on general manager Troy Weaver to find a potential star among the remaining prospects.

What they're saying: Weaver told reporters after the lottery that he's not disappointed because Detroit can still add a talented young player. He also kept the door open to possibly trading the pick.

  • "It doesn't matter where you land, you gotta hit the ball where you bat in the order," he said. "We never viewed it as one or bust."

State of play: Detroit had a 14% chance to win the lottery — the same odds as Houston and the team that got the top pick, the San Antonio Spurs.

How the lottery works: All 14 teams that missed the playoffs are eligible.

  • Using pingpong balls that are weighed and certified before the drawing, a lottery machine carries out the selection process in a separate room before the ESPN broadcast.
  • Various team representatives, league officials, select media members and the Ernst & Young accounting firm are present to witness the drawing.

What happened: Picking ahead of Detroit will be Houston at No. 4, Portland with the third pick, Charlotte at No. 2 and then the Spurs.

What's next: The draft is June 22.


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