The Detroit Pistons won the 2021 NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night, leapfrogging the Houston Rockets.
Houston dropped to second, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, who respectively jumped into third and fourth from the fifth and seventh spots in the lottery. The Rockets risked losing their pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder if it fell below a top-four protection on the 2019 Russell Westbrook deal.
The Pistons had never previously moved up in the lottery with their own pick. They last drafted No. 1 overall in 1970, when the organization drafted Hall of Famer Bob Lanier. Whoever Detroit drafts first, he will join a roster that placed 2020 draft selections Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart on the NBA's All-Rookie teams.
"It's going to mean a lot for this team," Pistons legend Ben Wallace, who represented his former team at the lottery, told the ESPN broadcast. "The team is headed in the right direction. We've got a group of young guys who come out and play hard on both ends of the floor. It's one of those teams where guys make plays with their energy and effort, and to add a No. 1 pick to that caliber of team, the sky's the limit for this team."
After failing to move up in the lottery, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls lost their first-round picks to the Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic, respectively. The Timberwolves owe the Warriors their top-three protected pick from the 2020 swap of D'Angelo Russell and Andrew Wiggins, and the Bulls owe the Magic their top-four protected pick following their trade for All-Star center Nikola Vucevic in March.
The top-14 draft order after Tuesday night's ping pong drawing:
2021 NBA draft lottery order
1. Detroit Pistons
2. Houston Rockets
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Toronto Raptors
5. Orlando Magic
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls)
9. Sacramento Kings
10. New Orleans Pelicans
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. San Antonio Spurs
13. Indiana Pacers
14. Golden State Warriors
The other big winner from the lottery was Pelicans vice president of basketball operations Swin Cash, who submitted a Hall of Fame-worthy meme entry on the broadcast after her team stayed put at No. 10:
Swin Cash's reaction to the Pelicans getting the 10th pick loool 😂 pic.twitter.com/TzNPXGE0oe
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) June 23, 2021
Jalen Green, Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs lead Yahoo Sports draft expert Krysten Peek's latest mock, and they are widely considered the best prospects in a class rich with high-end talent. Cunningham plans only to visit with Detroit ahead of the draft, per Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill.
This year's NBA draft is scheduled for July 29 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.
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