Pistons Move Up To No. 1 Pick in Lottery; Raptors Make Big Jump

The Detroit Pistons had the luck of the draw Tuesday night at the NBA's Draft Lottery, moving from their original spot in the 2-slot, to grab the No. 1 overall pick. The Toronto Raptors made the biggest move of any team, rising three spots from number 7 up into the No. 4 slot. 

It's the first time the Pistons have ever moved up in the Draft Lottery, and you have to go back over 50 years—1970—for the last time they had the No. 1 overall pick (Bob Lanier). 

Detroit had the second-worst record in the NBA this season, and had a 14% chance of notching the winning ping pong ball, the same odds as the Houston Rockets, with the worst overall record, and the Orlando Magic, who were third from the bottom. 

If they don't trade the top pick, the addition of presumed No. 1 draft choice guard Cade Cunningham out of Oklahoma State, should vastly accelerate their rebuild.

As for the Raptors, they finally got a break after a rough season that saw them play away from their Toronto home all year, with Tampa serving as their pseudo home base. In most of their Florida games, the opposing team had more fans in the arena than the Raptors did. 

A series of injuries plus a team-wide Covid outbreak left them reeling all season, and finishing out of the playoffs for the first time in 8 years. Add that to the current uncertainty about free agent president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, and this lottery boost was exactly the kind of lucky break this team needed. 

GM Bobby Webster said the Raptors bet on 'Mr. Bet On Yourself' himself, Fred VanVleet, to prompt that beneficial ping pong ball to drop.  

The 2021 NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, July 29.   

Photo Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports