NEW YORK – As I stepped into a crowded Good Morning America Times Square Studio after the NBA lottery, other media, observers and official team representatives had already flooded the floor. It was difficult to even walk without following a single-file stream leading toward the center of the crowd.
In the scrum, the first face I clearly saw belonged to Andre Drummond. The 6-foot-10 center towered above everyone near him, using his wide frame to clear space in his immediate vicinity.
He was smiling.
The Pistons’ streak of never benefitting from moving up in the lottery – the only time they’ve moved up, they drafted Darko Milicic – remains in tact. Entering Tuesday’s lottery with the No. 7 seed, the Pistons fell to the No. 8 pick to create a grim situation.
The Cavaliers, a Central Division foe, landed the No. 1 pick and will also see Anderson Varejao return from injury. Another Central Division team, the Pacers, will begin play in the Eastern Conference Finals tomorrow. A third Central Division team, the Bulls, won a playoff series and will get Derrick Rose back next season. The Pistons might be in better shape than the Bucks, but at least Milwaukee made the playoffs this season, and I’m not going to bother with the pointless exercise of comparing the Pistons and Bucks.
Moreover, the eighth pick is not a great place to sit in this draft. Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Trey Burke, Victor Oladipo and Anthony Bennett will almost certainly be off the board. It would have been worth hoping one fell to No. 7, but to No. 8? It was already a stretch at No. 7. The Pistons won’t even necessarily get their top choice of a lower tier that includes Shabazz Muhammad, Alex Len, Cody Zeller and C.J. McCollum.
But as I saw Drummond standing there smiling, I exhaled and smiled, too.
Maybe this won’t be so bad. After all, the Pistons have Drummond, one of the league’s most promising players thanks, in part, to the size that allowed me to see him first. And they got him one pick later than they’re choosing this year. Sometimes, the improbable happens, and lately, the Pistons’ improbable luck has come on draft night rather than lottery night.
The risks are still plentiful, as the No. 8 pick might do just enough to ensure the Bobcats get the best pick possible in a stacked 2014 draft, thanks to a first rounder Detroit still owes them from the Ben Gordon trade (top-eight protected next year). Is a Drummond-Greg Monroe-Brandon Knight core plus whoever the Pistons draft and sign this year good enough to run with?
Before I knew it, a crew dismantled the stage that not long ago Drummond and ever other team’s lottery representatives sat on. I didn’t stick around to watch the end, but the crew was taking down the logos top to bottom, left to right, leaving the Pistons’ logo due to come off last.
The Pistons are still standing thanks to Drummond, and they might even still be smiling thanks to an irrational hope that draft luck repeats itself. But as much as I want to remain optimistic, I can’t help but think it won’t be long until someone comes by and takes down what the Pistons are building.
Tags: Alex Len Anderson Varejao Andre Drummond Anthony Bennett Ben McLemore C.J. McCollum Charlotte Bobcats Chicago Bulls Cleveland Cavaliers Cody Zeller Darko Milicic Derrick Rose Indiana Pacers Joe Dumars Milwaukee Bucks Nerlens Noel Otto Porter Shabazz Muhammad Trey Burke Victor Oladipo