2024 NBA Draft Lottery winners and losers: Pistons’ bad luck continues, Hawks

While fans of NBA playoff teams live and die with every bounce of the basketball during the month of May, fans of non-playoff teams live and die with every bounce of the ping pong balls. We need look no further than the emergence of Victor Wembanyama to see how landing the top pick in the NBA Draft can quickly change the fortunes of a franchise. On Sunday we found out which teams Lady Luck smiled upon during the 2024 NBA Draft Lottery.

In a massive shock, the Atlanta Hawks bucked overwhelming odds to land the No. 1 pick, followed by the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs. Here is the full order:

1 Atlanta
2 Washington
3 Houston (via Brooklyn)
4 Saint Anthony
5 Detroit
6 Charlotte
7 Portland
8 San Antonio (via Toronto)
9 Memphis
10 Utah
11 Chicago
12 Oklahoma City (via Houston)
13 Sacramento
14 Portland (via Golden State)

While this isn’t considered to be the best draft class in NBA history, there are always diamonds to be found in the rough, and some teams will have a better chance at mining them than others. Let’s take a look at a few winners and losers from Sunday’s NBA Draft Lottery.

Three seasons. A combined 54 wins. And three No. 5 picks to show for it. For the third consecutive year — and second straight in which they put up the league’s worst record — the Pistons fell out of the top four in the lottery. This past season was particularly abysmal, finishing with a franchise-record 68 losses, including the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history at 28 games. Now, rather than popping champagne with a top-three pick in the draft, they’ve taken yet another L.

There is some good news here. With last year’s No. 5 pick the Pistons selected Ausar Thompson, who was their Lottery on-stage attendee Sunday and has already shown tremendous potential as a wing defender and transition scorer. Also, if there’s any draft to have missed the No. 1 pick, this is it. There is no consensus franchise-changing prospect in this class, so there’s a decent chance the player you select at No. 5 could be even better than the top four. Still, it would be nice to have a higher selection to assure you get the player that you want. Again that’s just not in the cards for Detroit, as they have now only won the lottery once (Cade Cunningham, 2021) since it was introduced in 1984.

Winner: Hawks

Already expected to shake things up this summer, the Hawks’ front office now has even more options after winning the lottery for the first time in franchise history on Sunday despite having just a 3% chance at the No. 1 pick. Armed with two potentially valuable trade assets in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, plus the top selection in the draft, Atlanta general manage Landry Fields just opened the doors to Willy Wonka’s chocolate room: A world of pure imagination.

Trade Young and the pick? Trade Murray and the pick? Keep both and draft a young prospect? Trade down for a lower pick and a win-now asset? You said it, Dejounte.

There are a multitude of possibilities now that the Hawks have the No. 1 selection for the first time since 1975. After a disappointing season in Atlanta, hope for the future received a huge boost with Sunday’s lottery luck.

By trading away OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam this past season, the Raptors signaled that they were ready for a near-complete rebuild. The loss of those players, plus an injury to Scottie Barnes, led to a dismal 6-21 record after the All-Star break, but the silver lining was that all the losing could at least help them keep their top-six protected draft pick.

*Narrator voice* “It didn’t.”

Despite having a 46% chance of landing in the top six on Sunday afternoon, Toronto fell to No. 8 and therefore must send the pick to the San Antonio Spurs as the final piece of the 2023 Jakob Poeltl trade. Adding insult to injury, the Raptors were actually one of seven teams that made it to the final draw for the No. 1 pick, but just missed out.

If you’re a Raptors optimist, you’ll say that it’s good that it happened this year, with a relatively weak draft class, because if not it would have conveyed to next year (and then 2026) with the same top-six protection. That may be the case, but it’s still going to sting on draft night when San Antonio makes some awesome, super Spursy pick at No. 8 and all the Raptors can do is sit and watch.

Winner: Rockets

You’d never be able to tell by looking at Ime Udoka’s face, but Sunday was a huge day for the Houston Rockets.

They lost their own pick, as expected, but the Brooklyn Nets’ selection jumped all the way to No. 3 (a 20% chance), and will therefore be conveyed to Houston as part of the 2021 James Harden trade. This is quite the confluence of events for the Rockets, who improved by nearly 20 wins this season to finish at .500 for the first time since 2020. The “consequence” of winning at that level was that they would lose their chance at a high draft pick — especially with Brooklyn expected to be competitive this season.

Well, so much for that.

Now the Rockets have another top-three pick, an arsenal of young talent that includes Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr. and Amen Thompson, plus veterans like Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks to keep the upward trajectory going. With all of those pieces already in place and an uncertain draft class, the Rockets may look to move the pick for another veteran or two. It seems weird to think about this way, but Harden essentially quitting on the team three years ago may have been the best thing for the franchise moving forward.

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