Detroit Pistons know about late lottery luck the hard way

The No. 12 pick isn’t ideal for the Detroit Pistons. Or any team for that matter. But if history tells us anything, late lottery selections can yield impressive results.

For the fifth time in the last seven years, the Detroit Pistons find themselves with a lottery pick. That’s the price you pay for missing the playoffs with a 37-45 record.

However, the No. 12 pick is certainly not a death sentence. Now let’s be clear.  Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz won’t fall to the Pistons.  That’s perfectly fine, because impact players can be found anywhere in the NBA draft.  The Pistons know that, but for all the wrong reasons.

Take Phoenix shooting guard Devin Booker for example.  The Grand Rapids native fell to the Suns at No. 13 in 2015 draft.  Detroit had No. 8 pick that year and desperately needed a perimeter defender.  Stan Van Gundy would select Stanley Johnson to fill that hole.

In 2014, Minnesota took high-flying guard Zach LaVine at No. 13.  As for the Pistons?  Well their first round pick was traded in the deal for forward Corey Maggette back in 2012.  Which the Hornets would then use to select forward Noah Vonleh ninth overall.

Detroit even chose point guard Brandon Knight over a future three-time NBA All Star.  His name? Try Golden State shooting guard Klay Thompson.  Knight was selected at No. 8 and Thompson fell to No. 11 in the 2011 draft.  The Pistons would miss out on another All Star guard.  Charlotte grabbed Kemba Walker with the No. 9 pick, just one spot after Knight.

Notice a trend here?  Aside from a multitude of bad draft day memories, the reality is simple. Good, great, and sometimes, franchise players can be found towards the end of the lottery.

Van Gundy’s fourth draft as president of basketball operations is less than a month away. Prospects such as center Zach Collins and guard Donovan Mitchell are expected to be available when Detroit is on the clock.

But the NBA draft is extremely unpredictable.  Pair that with Boston having the No. 1 pick, and the night of June 22 should be anything but routine.

A break from the norm?  Judging by Detroit’s recent draft history, that’ll be just fine for the Pistons.