Why Are the Detroit Pistons Still So Bad?
It is becoming another winter of discontent for the Detroit Pistons and their fans. As of this writing (December 8th), the Pistons have the NBA's worst record at 4-19. They have lost nine straight games after blowing another lead against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena, 114-103.
Head coach Dwane Casey (pictured) is in his fourth season coaching the Pistons. And it's been a struggle for him since he won the NBA's Coach of the Year with the Toronto Raptors in 2018 (he was fired after the Raps were eliminated in the playoffs). He is 85-158 in 3+ seasons in Motown.
But the Pistons have not won a playoff game since Game 4 of the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals (against Boston). They have made the playoffs in 2009, 2016, and 2019. But they got swept in four straight games in the first round each of those years.
So why are they still so bad? There are several reasons why, IMO.
THE CHAUNCEY BILLUPS TRADE
There are several root causes for the Pistons struggles. Number 1 is when then-GM Joe Dumars lost his mind and traded "Mr. Bigshot", Chauncey Billups, along with Antonio McDyess, and Chieck Samb to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson at the start of the 2008-09 season.
This really started when Larry Brown weaseled his way out of Detroit after taking the Pistons to the NBA Finals in back-to-back years (2004 & 2005). Dumars hired Flip Saunders to replace Brown, and while they went the Eastern Conference Finals all three years he was there. But not all the players got along with him, and he was fired in 2008. Michael Curry lasted one season. The team mutinied on John Kuester, Lawrence Frank couldn't get it done, Maurice Cheeks didn't last one season, and Stan Van Gundy set this franchise back several years. Which leads up to...
BAD CONTRACTS AND DRAFT CHOICES
There's a lot of blame to go around here. And it starts with the drafting of Darko Milicic number 2 in 2003, when they could've had Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh.
Here are some of the other draft choices they made since then: Sammy Mejia, Alex Acker, Austin Daye, Kim English (ok, I'll stop there).
The bad contracts is really only one contract. The Blake Griffin deal. The Pistons still owe Griffin nearly $30 million for this season. Griffin got here via Stan Van Gundy sending Tobias Harris (now an NBA All-Star), Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and two future draft picks to the Los Angeles Clippers. But when Griffin was acquired, he still had four years and well over $100 million left on his deal. Injuries hampered him throughout his time in Detroit
POOR PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
You know who NBA All-Star Khris Middleton is? He's now an NBA champion with the Milwaukee Bucks and is one of the better players in the league.
The Pistons actually drafted him in the second round in 2012. But he only played in 27 games for the Pistons in 2012-13. He was then traded to the Bucks (along with two others) for Brandon Jennings (another great trade, ugh!). Khris goes to the Bucks and becomes an All-Star, nice. Spencer Dinwiddie is another draft pick that the Pistons didn't develop. He was traded to Brooklyn and became a really good player (before he encountered injuries).
That's how I see how/why the Pistons are so bad. Did I miss anything? What do you think? And these are the Detroit Pistons, do you even care in the first place?