On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams sit with Detroit Pistons chief business officer Mike Zavodsky to talk about the business opportunity around the NBA Draft. The Pistons won the NBA draft lottery in June and will pick No. 1 overall on Thursday night.
The prospect of landing an elite rookie—the team is projected to take either Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green, according to most experts—is already paying off. Zavodsky says the week after the draft lottery was the team’s best week of ticket sales in more than three years. That night, executives celebrated for about 30 seconds before rushing back to work, Zavodsky says, with people working past 2 a.m. fielding incoming interest and making proactive calls.
Zavodsky discusses how the team can capitalize on the excitement beyond just ticket sales, and also other recent Pistons initiatives to diversify its business by embracing the city’s music, lifestyle and culture. The team made Detroit hip-hop star Big Sean its “creative director of innovation” and released a Martin-themed merchandise line, a nod to the popular 90s TV show that was filmed in Detroit.
The group also talks about in-venue entertainment, and how the Pistons are working to make their games a distinctly Detroit experience. That’s been enhanced by the team’s recent move to a downtown arena, after three decades playing 30 miles outside the city.