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How the Detroit Pistons could become one of the NBA’s most dangerous teams overnight

Despite finishing with the league’s worst record in 2023, the Detroit Pistons have a chance to become one of the NBA’s most dangerous teams overnight. It may sound strange on the surface. We’re talking about a franchise that just went 17-65 and hasn’t won more than 23 games in any of the past four seasons, but it’s true. The Pistons are set to gain traction next season.

It’s not because the organization and coach Dwane Casey mutually agreed to find a new leader, one the Pistons have yet to hire. Instead, it’s because of their roster’s potential and strong chances of winning the NBA Draft lottery on Tuesday night.

The Pistons have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick, which are the same odds as the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. Yet, even if the Pistons don’t secure the top pick and a chance to land generational draft prospect Victor Wembanyama, they still have a 52.1% chance to stay in the top four on draft night.

No matter what, the Pistons are set to add yet another highly-touted prospect with All-Star potential to a roster full of developing hoopers. Not to mention, Cade Cunningham missed 70 games in 2022 as he dealt with a stress fracture on his shin. His absence is a major reason why the Pistons struggled so much to begin with.

But what about adding another top-four pick to a young core already headlined by Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren? That’s four players, all under the age of 22, who the Pistons can put their full attention into building the rest of their roster around. You can’t tell me this team won’t be considerably better next season and the offseason hasn’t even started.

Related: 2023 NBA Draft lottery: Date, time, latest NBA Draft order Rounds 1-2, final lottery odds

Detroit’s Big 3 could grow into a well-oiled machine

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Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Cunningham is set to come back, plus Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren, teams should already be wary of the Pistons’ skill level heading into next season. But what if Detroit actually won the lottery and could add who may be the best NBA draft prospect since LeBron James?

Imagine how high the Pistons’ ceiling would suddenly be with a lineup that looked like this:

  • PG – Cade Cunningham
  • SG – Jaden Ivey
  • SF – Bojan Bogdanovic
  • PF – Victor Wembanyama
  • C – Jalen Duren/Isaiah Stewart

Wembanyama may be best suited to play center, but the Pistons happen to have two stout, defensive centers in Duren and Stewart.

It’s possible the front office looks to cash in some of these chips, trading one of Duren or Stewart for a scorer who plays along the wing as a long-term fit, as Bogdanovic is already 34 and doesn’t exactly have the same competitive timeline as his fellow teammates.

But for now, he’s a perfect fit as a highly efficient sniper who helps space the floor. There’s no reason to move on from the valued vet.

We still have questions about whether the above lineup has its top scoring threat on the roster, but between Cunningham chipping in 20 points per game, with Ivey and Bogdanovic also adding 18 or so, plus whatever Wembanyama is capable of, they won’t have a shortage of players capable of getting a bucket.

Ultimately, if the Pistons get some lotto luck and land the No. 1 overall pick, they could have two of the top 20 players under the age of 22 on their roster. How many other teams can boast the same claims?

Hiring one of the top available coaches should be no issue for a team led by Wembanyama and Cunningham for the foreseeable future. In essence, how could the Pistons possibly fail with two players whose ceilings are much higher than the average NBA player could even reach?

Related: 3 teams who would benefit most from winning the NBA lottery

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