It has been 15 seasons since the Detroit Pistons have been in contention for anything but a high draft pick.
This season the Pistons, who have not won a playoff series since 2008, are once again last in the Eastern Conference and have not rewarded their backers for Michigan sports betting. The Pistons, as one of the three worst teams in the NBA, have a 14% chance (+614) to win the lottery and get the No. 1 pick in this summer’s NBA Draft.
But a high pick only elevates the pressure to make the right pick.
Recent High Picks For Pistons
The Pistons chose No. 1 in 2021 and took 6-foot-7 Cade Cunningham out of Oklahoma State. He had a strong rookie season, averaging 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.6 assists, and looked improved at the start of his sophomore season – until he went down with a shin fracture in December. Surgery ended his season.
Last year the Pistons chose Jaden Ivey from Purdue with the No. 5 pick. Like Cunningham, Ivey has had a solid rookie season, averaging 15 points a game, including a career-high 32 against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 27. The Pistons, however, lost 126-117. The team has just one victory in March and won only two games in February.
Detroit entered the season as +50000 to win the NBA title at BetMGM Michigan Sportsbook and, from the start, never looked remotely like a threat to cash for anyone trying that wager. The Pistons won’t even reach their modest preseason over/under wins total of 29.5, because, at 16-60 as of Thursday, the most the team can win is 22 games.
Why Pistons Are Struggling
Why are the Pistons so bad? One reason is a lack of stars. With only five people on the court at a time, the NBA is a league powered by greatness, and the Pistons don’t have any great players. Cunningham and Ivey may grow into great players but the team’s leading scorer this season is veteran NBA role player Bojan Bogdanovic.
The Pistons rank 28th out of 30 teams in points per game and are bottom five in the league in defensive rebounding, assists, field goals made and true shooting percentage. They’re last in field goal percentage. Fortunately, they’re a good free throw shooting team and take a lot of free throws. They’re also a good offensive rebounding team.
Things don’t get much better on the other end of the court as the Pistons are 28th in terms of points allowed.
Wembanyama Massive Favorite To Go No. 1
They need a certifiable stud to build with Cunningham and Ivey. If Detroit lands that No. 1 pick, there is a possible major talent coming into the NBA, with 19-year-old, 7-2 French center Victor Wembanyama. The Kentucky star is seen as one of the top prospects in a generation, and a cross between Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett – with an 8-foot wingspan.
Wembanyama is so likely to go with the first pick, he’s -8000 at the DraftKings Michigan sportsbook. Wembanyama can score at all three levels, with his only weakness being a slight frame and physical maturity. The concern is that players built like Wembanyama don’t always put on the weight or the added weight makes them injury prone.
And though the NBA isn’t as physical as when the Pistons were last champions – and certainly not as physical as it was in the days of Wes Unseld and Nate Thurmond – a young Wembanyama could find himself getting beaten up night after night.
If the Pistons don’t get the No. 1 pick – and the odds are strong that they won’t – they’re guaranteed to pick no lower than fifth. Under the current lottery format, the top three teams all have an equal 14% chance of landing the top pick. That would translate to +614 odds with Michigan sportsbook apps.
Other Draft Options For Detroit
Other options on the table for Detroit include 6-2, 19-year-old G-League star Scoot Henderson (+4000 to go at No. 1), 6-9 Alabama freshman Brandon Miller (+8000), the G-League’s Thompson brothers, Amen (+10000) and Ausar (+15000), both 6-7 and 20 years old, 6-8 Houston freshman Jarace Walker (+15000), two Arkansas freshmen 6-7 Anthony Black and 6-4 Nick Smith Jr., (+15000), 6-6 Villanova freshman Cam Whitmore (+15000), and 6-8 Kansas freshman Gradey Dick.
There isn’t a college upperclassman expected to be drafted until 6-8 Iowa junior Kris Murray, somewhere around the 20th pick.
Are any of those guys potential NBA superstars? Or will they just be solid NBA starters or bench guys? It is so hard to tell with 19-year-olds? The good news for the Pistons is that whomever they get, they’re going to have a young, talented, three-piece nucleus for the future.
That’s also the bad news. Young teams without superstars don’t move up in the standings. If they can’t get Wembanyama – who’s at least a roll of the dice for potential greatness – it might make more sense to trade the high pick for a proven veteran presence who can help mold Cunningham and Ivey.
As the NBA playoffs draw near – albeit without the Pistons – bettors in the state can take advantage of the best Michigan betting bonuses available for their NBA Finals future bets.