What’s going on in the Motor City?

By: Jason Cutcher

The Detroit Pistons are far removed from the days of the Chauncey Billups & Ben Wallace. The Pistons currently hold a 12-33 record moving into April. The team is currently tied at 27th in the league for Field Goal percentage, 26th in rebounding, and 24th in points per game while boasting one of the most inefficient offenses in the league, coming in at 25th. 

 Is this the new normal in Detroit? 

While Jerami Grant has come into his own this season, averaging 23 points, on a respectable 42.9 field goal percentage, almost five rebounds per game, and just under three assists per contest, The Pistons have struggled to get anything going on the offensive side of the ball under Head Coach Dwane Casey. 

The Whiteboard: Jerami Grant bet on himself, and that bet is paying off
Photo Courtesy of FanSided

The defense has been the saving grace for Casey’s team as the offense has struggled to find any consistent identity. The three-point line has also not been kind to the Pistons, currently shooting a dismal 34.9% as a team from beyond the arc, landing them at 24th in the league. 

The Pistons used the 7th pick in last year’s draft on Point Guard Killian Hayes. The 19-year-old is out indefinitely after a torn hip labrum sustained on January 4th. To make matters worse, Detroit does not have a first-round pick in the 2021 draft. Detroit has never really been a free agent destination, draft picks are worth more than they are worth for most other teams. 

NBA Draft (@NBADraft) | Twitter
Photo Courtesy of NBA

Throughout the history of the organization, Detroit’s best teams have been largely home-grown. To rebuild, it appears the Pistons will have to go the traditional route.

 Dwane Casey promised to bring defense and he has. The Pistons consistently have ranked in the top half of defense in the league during his tenure, the issue is they’ve also consistently ranked toward the bottom in the offense. Because of this, it’s likely Coach Casey has coached his last season in the Motor City. 

How did it get this way? 

Chauncey Billups: 2004 Lakers 'Should Have Swept' Pistons
Photo courtesy of SLAM

When the Pistons really moved on from the Chauncey Billups era after the 2008-2009 season, the team has really failed to put anything together even with drafting All-stars Andre Drummond and Khris Middleton (in the same draft), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and deadly three-point shooter Luke Kennard whose shooting almost 48% beyond the arc in LA this season. Looking at today, they’ve let go of all these pieces. 

In 2018, the Pistons traded Tobias Harris (who has since come into his own), Avery Bradley &  Boban Marjanovic to the Clippers for Blake Griffin, and with that, Griffin’s $171 million dollar contract was paired with Drummond’s own $127 million dollar deal. The deal was thought promising for the Pistons but without more shooters alongside Kennard, Drummond, a notoriously one-dimensional player, paired with Blake Griffin did not work. 

Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and a glimpse of a potentially crushing  Pistons tandem – The Athletic
Photo courtesy of The Athletic

Drummond was traded during last year’s deadline for John Henson and Brandon Knight, both of whom are no longer playing in the NBA. Blake Griffin’s entire deal was bought out by Detroit this season leveraging a lot of cap pressure on Detroit making them unable to make any notable free agency moves in the near future. 

The present is bleak for Detroit basketball fans and with the team tied up in salary cap, having no first-round pick in 2021, and consistently finishing seasons just out of reach of a good shot at the number one pick, the future looks bleak as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: