The Pistons Need All the Luck in the NBA Draft Lottery

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
Detroit Pistons Sport News


  • The 2024 NBA Draft Lottery is Sunday, May 12 with the broadcast on ABC. The Pistons and Washington Wizards each have the best odds of getting the first pick.
  • Detroit’s luck in the NBA Draft Lottery has not been good in the past, including last year when they fell all the way from the possible top spot to No. 5.
  • The NBA Draft is June 26-27, and there’s no clear top pick. Some of the Pistons options include Alex Sarr, Ron Holland or Donovan Clingan.

It’s the rarest of feelings for Detroit Pistons fans this weekend: Optimism.

After a historically bad season that included an NBA record-tying 28 game losing streak and a 2-15 finish, the Pistons have good odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery Sunday in Chicago and the first pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Top Michigan Sportsbooks have odds on all of the ongoing NBA playoff games and series and odds on the NBA Draft Lottery.  FanDuel Sportsbook has the Pistons, Wizards, Hornets and TrailBlazers all +600 to win the draft lottery, while  DraftKings Sportsbook has the Pistons and Wizards at +550. Once the full draft order is set, sportsbooks will have odds on who will be drafted first and all sorts of markets.

How Does the NBA Lottery Work

The Pistons have been in the NBA Draft Lottery a lot since 2010. This is the third year in a row that they have the best odds to win it.

Well, sort of.

The inner workings of the draft lottery have changed in the last decade. You can look up old clips of the big drum with envelopes with team logos inside drawn by the commissioner live.

Now, it’s a real lottery. 14 numbered ping pong balls are placed inside a mixer, with a max of 1,001 combinations. Four balls are drawn. The 14 teams in the lottery are all assigned random combinations. The Pistons and Wizards each have 140 combinations each (meaning they each have 14 percent chance).

The good news is the lottery only assigns the first four picks. After that, it’s done in order of finish. So the worst the Pistons can get is the fifth pick. Again.

Pistons Lottery Luck

Piston fans still rue the 2023 Draft Lottery. Again, the Pistons had the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick and there was a can’t-miss star waiting, Victor Wembanyama, to be selected.

And the ping pong balls bounced in favor of the San Antonio Spurs, who took the 7-foot-4 freak who went on to win NBA Rookie of the Year and was in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. Not only did the Pistons not get No. 1. They didn’t even get No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4.

Only once have the Pistons had the ping pong balls bounce there way in 2021 when they went up from second to first and grabbed star Cade Cunningham.

Who Will be the No. 1 pick?

This year there is no clear No. 1 pick, there’s no Wembanyama, just a bunch of talented prospects all with various strengths and weaknesses.

Heading into the lottery, Alex Sarr, a 7-foot-1 center from France, is considered the favorite to go first. But you read the scouting report on him and it says he does a lot of things well, except shoot. There’s Ignite star Ron Holland, and U. Conn 7-foot-2 center Donovan Clingan, and the usual one-and-dones from Kentucky.

Whoever gets the No. 1 pick may want to trade down from the spot, but who would be the takers?

The Pistons are still young, and just need talent and experience. Cunningham scored 22.7 points in 62 games and looks like he can play, but is maybe not a No. 1 guy (we’ll see).

Expect a lot of chatter about Lakers star LeBron James and his decision on whether to move on this off-season. LeBron’s son Bronny is a draft candidate (maybe second round) and LeBron has maintained for years that he’d like to play with his son in the NBA.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.