Will the Detroit Pistons Get the NBA’s Next Star? We’ll Find Out Soon.

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 09: Victor Wembanyama of Metropolitans 92 in action during the LNB Pro A Betclic Elite basketball match between Nanterre 92 and Metropolitans 92 at Palais des Sports Maurice Thorez on 09 May 2023, in Nanterre near Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Liewig - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Isaac Constans

May 15, 2023

The Pistons have the joint-best odds for the No. 1 pick and the chance to snag a prospect considered to be the next LeBron James.

It’s no exaggeration to say ping-pong balls will determine the Detroit Pistons’ future, as the NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight with massive stakes. With the joint-highest chance of getting the first overall picks, the Pistons could conceivably land the NBA’s most promising player since LeBron James.

Here’s how it works:

The NBA Draft Lottery takes place every year to determine the order of the upcoming draft. Teams that missed the playoffs are assigned odds corresponding to their record. The worse the team’s record, the better its chances of getting a top pick. The only exception is that the three teams with the worst records share the same odds. 

Because the Detroit Pistons had the league’s worst record last year (welp), the team has a 14% chance at the No. 1 pick in the draft, tied with the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets for highest odds. 

To determine the draft order, the NBA places 14 numbered ping pong balls into a lottery machine. The league draws four lottery balls at a time. Prior to the lottery, the league assigns exact combinations of numbers to teams to match their probability of receiving the first, second, third, and fourth picks. It’s similar to a Powerball selection, with fewer ping-pong balls and choices.

This video explains the NBA lottery process well.

The league announces the results by opening envelopes containing the teams’ names in a televised ceremony. 

This year matters more than it usually does. 

Victor Wembanyama, a 7-foot-2-inch French national with incredible ball handling and a silky shot, is up for grabs in the draft. He plays like Kevin Durant—an all-time great nicknamed “the Slim Reaper” for his slender build and smooth movement on the court—and is considered the league’s best prospect in two decades.

Suppose the Pistons win the lottery like they did two years ago. They could pair Wembanyama with Cade Cunningham—the first pick in 2021—as well as Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren, instantly creating one of the league’s best young cores. It would inject some much-needed promise into a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season in seven years.

Pistons fans can dream.

Can’t wait for the lottery at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, when the draw will be shown on ESPN? Try this nifty tool to simulate the lottery, and let us know where the Pistons fall in your mock draw.

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