The NBA Draft Lottery has previously not gone well for the Detroit Pistons. Before Tuesday, the team had never moved up from its projected draft slot, only either moving down or remaining in its spot.
But that changed this season, with the Pistons winning the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, giving them the No. 1 pick for this year’s draft on July 29. Detroit is in a position to select this year’s consensus top prospect, Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham, which certainly could boost Michigan sports betting.
"We get to add another young player to the restoration process," Detroit general manager Troy Weaver told the media after the lottery. "We're excited to be in this position. It means that we got a lot of work to do and it always helps to be able to add a No. 1 pick to such a talented group of players."
It’s a reversal of fortunes for an organization that saw itself drop two spots during last season’s lottery from having the fifth-best odds down to No. 7 where the team drafted point guard Killian Hayes. This season will be the first time since 1970 that the Pistons held the No. 1 overall pick. Detroit used the top selection to draft Hall of Fame center Bob Lanier.
Sportsbooks Favor Cunningham at No. 1
In addition to the analysts who see Cunningham as the top prospect, sportsbooks also see the Oklahoma State guard going to Detroit. At BetMGM, Cunningham is the overwhelming favorite to go No. 1 at -2000.
The 6-foot-8 Cunningham is considered the most refined scorer of this year’s draft class. Last season, he averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while making 43.8% of his shots, including 40% on 3-pointers. His size and shooting touch make him a difficult defensive matchup. He’s a strong finisher at the rim and can knock down shots off the dribble and coming off screens.
If he joins the Pistons, he’ll give the team a perennial go-to option on the offensive end and gives the offense another threat from the perimeter along with Jerami Grant. Cunningham will also alleviate some of the pressure on Hayes, giving the point guard another scoring threat around him. There will also likely be less of a burden for Hayes to develop quickly into an all-star with Cunningham taking on plenty of attention and the expectations for the team’s turnaround.
Other Candidates for Top Spot
Gonzaga point guard Jalen Suggs, who is well-known for his game-winning 3-pointer in his team’s Final Four win over UCLA, has the second-best odds to go No. 1 on BetMGM Sportsbook at +1400. USC center Evan Mobley (+1600), and G-Leaguers Jalen Green (+2000) and Jonathan Kuminga (+2000) round out the top five.
This will be the first draft since Michigan launched sports betting and internet casinos on Jan. 22 that residents within the state will be able to bet on the draft online. On Jan. 7, 2021, the Michigan Gaming Control Board approved the NBA Draft as a wagering type for bettors in Michigan. Players can wager on bets such as draft position, players to be selected by a specific team and whether a player will be drafted in the top three, five or 10, in addition to numerous other draft props.