The Detroit Pistons secured the franchise-changing ping pong ball in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery.
The Pistons will pick No. 1 in the draft — slated for July 29 — and Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham is expected to be the clear-cut favorite. The 6-8 do-everything guard was a first team USA TODAY Sports All-American in his breakout freshman season with the Cowboys in 2020-21.
The Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic round out the top five. NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum announced the lottery results with representatives of the 14 teams joining virtually.
The Pistons’ last draft pick this high came in 2003, when they selected Darko Milicic at No. 2. Former star Ben Wallace, getting inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, was on hand Tuesday for the pick. It’s the first top pick for the franchise since center Bob Lanier out of St. Bonaventure University in 1970
“Obviously we get to add another wing player to the restoration process,” Pistons general manager Troy Weaver told reporters. “We’re excited to be in this position. But it means that we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’re going to be diligent about it. But it always helps to be able to add the number one pick.”
Rockets general manager Rafael Stone told reporters after the lottery that he was open to trading the No. 2 pick. “We don’t want to foreclose anything,” he said. “We’re open to a trade.”
Other top-five projected lottery picks are Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs, USC big man Evan Mobley and G League Ignite guard Jalen Green.
The ping pong balls were favorable for the Raptors, who had 7.5% odds to land the top pick and vaulted up from the seventh spot to secure the fourth pick in the draft.
The Chicago Bulls, positioned eighth before the lottery, lost their pick to the Magic because it coveys to Orlando as part of the Nikola Vucevic trade in February.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, who have 19 first-round picks through 2027, have three first-round draft selections in 2021. They landed the No. 6 pick in the lottery.
Complete lottery results:
1. Detroit Pistons
2. Houston Rockets
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Toronto Raptors
5. Orlando Magic
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Golden State Warriors
8. Orlando Magic
9. Sacramento Kings
10. New Orleans Pelicans
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. San Antonio Spurs
13. Indiana Pacers
14. Golden State Warriors