SECAUCUS, New Jersey – Greg Monroe came to NBA Entertainment Studios straight from his home in Louisiana, and if it were a chilly day outside in New Jersey, it was even colder in the studio during the NBA Lottery. Monroe breathed on his hands a couple times, trying to warm up. But I’m not sure he ever felt comfortable.
The Pistons certainly shouldn’t feel that way.
Detroit, which had the No. 7 seed, fell to eighth pick in the draft. A division rival, the Cavaliers, landed the No. 1 and No. 4 picks. The Jazz, which held the No. 6 seed and would have been a strong candidate to pick a guard the Pistons didn’t want with the sixth pick, moved up to the third pick, where they’ll likely pick a big man the Pistons covet.
The lottery is a funny event. Unrivaled in professional sports, it’s a scheduled event where teams don’t make any decisions, but it has a huge impact on their futures. Adam Silver, simply opening an envelope that displayed a Pistons logo, crushed Detroit’s dreams of Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams and Enes Kanter. Heck, Silver, by unveiling the Pistons’ envelope a pick earlier than slotted, even made Bismack Biyambo supporters a little nervous that the Congolese big man would last until their pick.
Nobody in the Pistons’ camp can feel good about tonight’s result. After the television segment ended, everyone flooded the floor of the studio. The victorious nine-man Cleveland contingent – which included members of the Gilbert family (most notably, Nick, who stole the night), Bernie Kosar, Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden – dominated the scene, but representatives of several other teams stuck around.
Monroe, after doing a quick interview, headed for the exit. He hasn’t had much to celebrate in the NBA, and tonight was certainly no exception. Although Detroit used to treat its players to more thrills, that was never the case for this event.
This is just the Pistons’ eighth lottery pick, and they moved up only once – in 2003. They took Darko. So, Detroit has never benefited from moving up in the lottery. Not that there was much the Pistons could have done to reverse that fate.
After Monroe said he didn’t plan to take any lucky objects with him to the lottery, the Pistons, as a result of a fan poll to select a charm, sent a Chuck Daly pin with him.
“I didn’t, but the fans voted,” Monroe said with a smirk that, to me, indicated he found the whole luck bit a little silly. After all, the lottery balls didn’t bounce the Pistons’ way last year, and they still ended up with the second or third best prospect in the draft.
This year, finding an impact talent will be even more difficult. Thanks to circumstance, this draft was going to be weak. Thanks to the threat of a lockout keeping underclassmen in school, it appears horrid.
The Pistons will probably target someone in the Bismack Biyambo–Jonas Valanciunas–Kawhi Leonard-Jan Vesely-Tristan Thompson group, but there’s a good chance three, maybe four, of those players will be off the board by No. 8. That would mean Detroit has to take the worst or second-worst player of that bunch, choose a guard like Brandon Knight (or, ugh, Kemba Walker) or reach for one of the Morris twins, Donatas Motiejunas, Kenneth Faried or Alec Burks.
Sounds about appealing as leaving New Orleans for New Jersey. But if the Pistons want a new start from the last three years, they’ll have to play the hand they’ve been dealt.
I ran into Joe Dumars as he was leaving the lottery and asked for a few minutes of his time. He politely declined and said:
“I’ve got business to take care of.”
Doesn’t he know it.