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No change: Pistons stuck with 12th pick in draft

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Donovan Mitchell

Auburn Hills —  One can imagine Pistons general manager Jeff Bower was like many of the crowd at a horse race, tearing up losing tickets and grousing to themselves.

Maybe the Pistons’ odds weren’t even that good, with only a 0.7 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick in Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery — and just 2.5 percent of landing anywhere in the top three.

Slim chance.

Make that no chance.

The Pistons’ draft position didn’t improve — but didn’t fall, either — as they stayed in the No. 12 spot. With their 37-45 record, they were in line to get the 12th pick and didn’t have the Denver Nuggets or Miami Heat leapfrog them into the top three.

“That was where the odds said we’d end up tonight — and that’s where we are, at No. 12,” Bower said via conference call. “We had a hope of moving up, however slim that is, but now that the percentages have played out, we put all our attention on making a good pick at No. 12 and we’ll be positioned to add a good player.”

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The Boston Celtics claimed the top overall pick, after taking the Brooklyn Nets’ spot, acquired in a trade for Paul Pierce. The Los Angeles Lakers will select second and the Philadelphia 76ers third. The Phoenix Suns, who had the second-worst record in the regular season, were bumped out of the lottery and will pick fourth.

It’s an odd juxtaposition for the Celtics, who will open the Eastern Conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers and will have the luxury of the No. 1 pick, reminiscent of the Pistons in 2003, when they selected Darko Milicic second overall.

Bower and Pistons president-coach Stan Van Gundy have said there are no glaring needs on the roster, which is likely to return all five starters. With last year’s rookie, Henry Ellenson, seeing little playing time last season, it could be the same for the rookie selected this season, in what’s regarded as a deep draft.

“The quality of the draft is pretty good,” Bower said. “There are a number of players that are in different tiers that at No. 12, a group of players who are all going to be in similar talent ranges that will be able to add to our team.”

DraftExpress.com projects the Pistons to take Louisville guard Donovan Mitchell with their pick. Mitchell is a 6-foot-3 combo guard, whom they interviewed at last week’s draft combine in Chicago.

DRAFT ORDER FOR LOTTERY TEAMS

1. Celtics

2. Lakers

3. Sixers

4. Suns

5. Kings

6. Magic

7. Timberwolves

8. Knicks

9. Mavericks

10. Kings

11. Hornets

12. Pistons

13. Nuggets

14. Heat