Math prevails: Pistons wind up with 5th pick in NBA draft

To paraphrase Rasheed Wallace, math don’t lie. Yes, it’s true that no team had a better chance to land the No. 1 pick in Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery. But it’s every bit as true that the overwhelming single greatest probability was that the Pistons would come out of the lottery with the fifth pick.

That they did.

San Antonio was the lucky winner of what will forever be known as the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. The 7-foot-5 French teen has been hyped for at least the last two years as the most coveted NBA prospect since Anthony Davis in 2012 and perhaps since LeBron James in 2003. If he’s not the No. 1 pick when commissioner Adam Silver steps to the podium June 22, something has gone terribly awry.

Just as a year ago when the Pistons landed the fifth pick, there are three names almost certain to be off the board when they go on the clock. Last year it was Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. and then went 1-2-3. When Sacramento somewhat surprisingly took Keegan Murray, the Pistons wound up happily left with Jaden Ivey.

This year the two prospects in addition to Wembanyama likely to be unavailable to the Pistons are G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson and Alabama forward Brandon Miller.

Among the prospects who could be in play for the Pistons are twins Amen and Ausar Thompson of Overtime Elite, Villanova freshman forward Cam Whitmore, Houston freshman forward Jarace Walker and Arkansas wing/guard Anthony Black.

The Pistons went into the lottery with a 14 percent chance to land the No. 1 pick and 13.4, 12.7 and 12.0 percent chances of winding up with the second, third and fourth picks. Houston and San Antonio shared those odds. The Pistons, though, had a 47.9 percent chance to land on five, their only other possible outcome.

Charlotte wound up with the second pick, Portland the third and Houston the fourth.