Winners, Losers from 2024 NBA Draft Lottery: Do the basketball gods hate Detroit?

Atlanta Hawks wins the NBA draft lottery...
Atlanta Hawks wins the NBA draft lottery...

Winning the NBA Draft Lottery could matter less this year — it’s a draft with some diamonds in the rough but no clear franchise cornerstones. No Victor Wembanyama or Anthony Edwards is at the top of this draft. This draft will be about smart evaluation and player development.

Still, it’s better to win the lottery than to lose it — a GM can get a clear board and a shot at his guy.

Look at our winners and losers from the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery on Sunday in Chicago.

LOSER: Detroit Pistons

Why do the basketball gods hate Detroit?

For the second consecutive year, they had the worst record in the NBA and, with that, the best chance at a No. 1 seed. For the second consecutive year, the Pistons have slid all the way back to fifth — as far back as they can go in the NBA’s system.

NBA pundits and analysts love to point out the smart draft picks and player development that have brought Minnesota and Oklahoma City deep into the second round of the playoffs — but both were lucky, too. Minnesota won the lottery twice and drafted Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. Oklahoma City got lucky in the lottery with the No. 2 pick and selected Chet Holmgren, a key part of their success this season.

Detroit can’t catch a break. They did with Cade Cunningham a few years back, but the last two years have been brutal, and it’s much more challenging to build a winner when the breaks go against you.

WINNER: Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks had a 3% chance of the No. 1 pick and less than a 10% chance of landing in the top three.

Atlanta is now on the clock — and will be through June 27. They got the No. 1 pick for the first time in franchise history.

The timing fits with what is expected to be an off-season of roster upheaval — Atlanta is expected to try and trade Trae Young, and if not him Dejounte Murray, then retool the roster. Having the No. 1 pick — whether they use it on a wing like Zaccharie Risacher or a stretch-five center who can protect the rim like Alex Sarr, or someone else — lets the Hawks get a quality player who can be part of whatever Quin Snyder and the team are going to build in Atlanta.

A smart trade that brings back quality players who fit better, plus a good No. 1 draft pick, and suddenly the Hawks future looks much more bright.

LOSER: Toronto Raptors

Their pick was top-six protected and they had a 46% chance of retaining it or moving up. They didn’t. The Raptors — after some ugly end-of-season play looking to improve their chances of keeping the pick — slid down to eighth in the draft, which means their pick goes to the Spurs this year.

The Raptors will still pick 19th, using the Pacers pick.

It leaves Toronto with an interesting choice because they now control their pick for next year (if they had held it this year, the Spurs would have gotten it next year). There is talent on the roster — Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley — but if things start slowly, would the Raptors be better off tanking and getting the best lottery odds they can? The 2025 draft is expected to have some franchise players at the top of the board.

WINNER: Houston Rockets

Houston doesn’t want to use its pick this year, it intends to trade it for future picks while they use free agency to bring in players who can help them more now.

Trading the pick got a lot easier because the Brooklyn Nets pick the Rockets owned jumped up to No. 3. (The Rockets own pick conveys to the Spurs this year in a separate transaction.) Dealing a pick in what is not considered a strong draft at the top is not ideal, but doing so at No. 3 is much better than if they had the No. 8 pick or something later.

WINNER: Washington Wizards

The equation here is simple: The Washington Wizards desperately need more talent on the roster, ideally young, athletic talent. Washington now has the No. 2 pick, where they can get someone who fits that mold.

There are a lot of other things that need to change in Washington, too, but this is a good start.