The draft lottery can change an organization. If you win you have a chance to choose the next great star for your organization that could potentially lead your organization to prominence or can set you back for a decade. The Detroit Pistons have been looking for their next great star for over ten years. The last time they were relevant at all was the 2007-2008 season. Since that season the Pistons have been over .500 just one time and made the playoffs just one time. Much like their team the organization has shot and missed continually on draft night.
If you take a look at the Pistons top ten picks over the last 15 years only Andre Drummond has made an All-Star team. Players like Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson were all selected in the top ten and none of them were successful in making an impact on the team. None are currently on their roster and other than Caldwell-Pope none of them even find themselves in an NBA rotation. The Pistons attempted to build their team through free agency and trades, acquiring former Clippers star Blake Griffin . The past his prime Griffin helped them make the playoffs for the first time in ten years but his diminishing skill set accompanied by a lack of any guard production…and Andre Drummon stinking forced the Pistons to rethink everything. The Pistons moved on from Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin in order to help them plummet to the bottom of the league. They were looking for a chance to start over and they needed that big time player, a difference maker to build their organization around. The ping pong balls dropped their way on lottery night and the prize was Cade Cunningham.
Cade Cunningham coming to the Motor City will immediately change the landscape of the organization. To build an organization you have to have a centerpiece. The NBA is a league led by stars and the Pistons currently lack any semblance of a star. Their leading scorer in 2021 was Jerami Grant who is better known for his effectiveness off of the bench. He was thrust into a leadership role as the Pistons shredded their roster to get where they are. With the addition of Cunningham and the return of last year’s first round pick Killian Hayes, Grant will be able to return to a role more suited for him as a bench player and secondary scorer.
Cunningham was able to turn Oklahoma State into a contender in the most competitive division in college basketball. His length and athleticism make him a perfect fit for a point-forward in the league. He can control the game with the ball in his hands, but he has also shown the ability to make the players around him better, averaging almost four assists per game in college. Cade can run the pick and roll with great precision, Mason Plumlee or Jerami Grant will thrive working with this young star to be.
He is a floor general, he will help the rest of the young talent Detroit has assembled excel. A full season with a healthy Saddiq Bey, Seko Doumboya, Hamidou Diallo and Killian Hayes should be fun to watch develop over the next five seasons.
The Pistons will have their growing pains as any young team does. They should not overthink this decision. There are two levels of #1 overall picks I rank them from Lebron James to Anthony Bennett, Cade will no doubt be much closer to LeBron than Bennett. He will be the franchise, but it will take time.