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Pistons due for some luck in draft lottery

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Since the advent of the lottery for the 1985 NBA draft, the Pistons haven’t had very much luck.

Actually, almost none at all.

In the 10 times that the Pistons have been due a pick in the lottery, their draft position has fallen four times, remained the same five times and improved just once.

And that one didn’t turn out so well, either.

That one instance was the 2003 draft, when the Pistons had the Memphis Grizzlies’ pick, which jumped from sixth to second. With that pick, the Pistons chose Darko Milicic — and the rest is … well, draft history.

They’ll take another shot at improving their draft position tonight in the draft lottery (8:00, ESPN), which will be televised just before Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.

With a 37-45 record, the Pistons are in the lottery for the seventh time in the last eight years. They’re in line for the 12th pick, with a 2.5 percent chance of jumping into the top three and a mere 0.7 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick.

In layman’s terms, those are the same odds of a random person being selected for an audit by the IRS. And given their lottery history, they’re probably more likely to move down than to move up.

Bower said he doesn’t have any lucky charm or a bauble to show at the televised lottery show to help improve their luck. Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy joked that he would try to rent Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s son, who’s been the Cavs’ representative at the lottery twice — and gotten a couple of No. 1 picks.

But they’ll go through the process and hope for the best, with general manager Jeff Bower the representative on the dais. The Pistons either will move up to one of the top three spots, stay pat at No. 12, or move back because a team behind them moved into the top three and pushed the rest back.

It happened most recently in 13, when they moved back from seventh to eighth and selected Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It also occurred in 2011, when the Pistons had the seventh-worst record and dropped to the eighth pick, taking Brandon Knight.

In 1994, they had the second-worst record, but when the Milwaukee Bucks won the lottery and selected Glenn Robinson Jr. with the first pick, the Pistons dropped to third and settled for Grant Hill.

At the draft combine last week, the Pistons got a look at several prospects who could be available to them at the No. 12 spot, but also had some light considerations about some of the top picks, such as Washington’s Markelle Fultz, UCLA’s Lonzo Ball and Kansas’ Josh Jackson.

That would be a dream scenario, as it would mean the Pistons hit the lottery, but it’s highly unlikely. Still, Bower said that they were doing their due diligence in gathering information, in case the unlikely happens.

When asked whether his recently-adopted Labrador named Eastwood would be a candidate to help bring the Pistons good luck in the draft lottery, Van Gundy laughed, but said they’d stick with their odds with Bower.

What are the odds?

Here are the percent chances that each team will win the No. 1 pick Tuesday night in the NBA draft lottery:

Boston (via Brooklyn), 25.0

Phoenix, 19.9

L.A. Lakers, 15.6

Philadelphia, 11.9

Orlando, 8.8

Minnesota, 5.3

New York, 5.3

Sacramento, 2.8

Dallas, 1.7

Sacramento (via New Orleans), 1.1

Charlotte, 0.8

Detroit, 0.7

Denver, 0.6

Miami, 0.5