Womp womp: No lottery luck – again – for Pistons, who send pick to Clippers

Luke Kennard represented the Pistons at the NBA draft lottery but their luck stayed the same as they didn’t pull a top-3 pick and must turn it over to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

Like Stan Van Gundy before him, the next Pistons coach will launch his era without a rookie lottery pick on the roster. Tuesday’s lottery played to form, which means the Pistons didn’t beat the 97.5 percent odds against keeping their first-round draft pick for the June 21 draft.

It goes, instead, to the Los Angeles Clippers to complete the Blake Griffin trade. The pick was top-four protected in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and unprotected after that. The good news? The Pistons have all of their future No. 1 picks. This year’s No. 1 pick is final payment for Griffin.

The top three picks went to Phoenix, Sacramento and Atlanta. The Kings jumped up from seventh to second and Atlanta from fifth to third, bumping Memphis down from second to fifth and Dallas from third to fourth. Phoenix, which had the best odds, won the No. 1 pick – the fourth straight year the team with the best lottery odds won the top pick.

The Clippers will get the Pistons pick at No. 12 as well as their own pick at No. 13.

In 2014, just days after Van Gundy was hired as both president of basketball operations and coach, the Pistons lost their No. 1 pick – top-eight protected – to Charlotte when Cleveland jumped from No. 9 to No. 1 and pushed the Pistons from eighth to ninth. The Pistons owed the pick to the Hornets as a condition of a 2012 trade that sent Ben Gordon and the two years remaining on his contract to Charlotte for Corey Maggette, who had only one season left on his deal.

The Pistons were also jumped in the 2011 and 2013 NBA drafts.

In Van Gundy’s three drafts with a first-round pick, the Pistons selected Stanley Johnson eighth in 2015, Henry Ellenson 18th in 2016 and Luke Kennard 12th in 2017. Kennard represented the Pistons on the dais at the draft lottery, held in Chicago.

The Pistons still have their second-round pick, No. 42 overall. The NBA draft combine starts in Chicago on Wednesday and continues through the weekend.

The lottery results continue a long history of the Pistons having a stunning lack of high draft picks over the course of their history. In the last 50 years, the Pistons have picked in the top five only seven times and in the last 36 years only twice.

Since drafting Isiah Thomas at No. 2 in 1981, the Pistons have only picked Grant Hill at No. 3 in 1994 and Darko Milicic at No. 2 in 2003 in the top five. The Pistons have only twice chosen at No. 1 and it’s been 48 years since they last had the top pick. They took Jimmy Walker first in 1967 and Bob Lanier first in 1970 – when there were only 14 teams in the league. By comparison, Cleveland chose No. 1 three times in a four-year span from 2011-14 and also took LeBron James first in 2003.