The Detroit Pistons have lost three straight games to drop their record to 23-44. They have secured a third straight losing season, it is so hard to believe how far teams can fall. They recorded a 27-55 record last season, their worst record since 1994 and that record was good enough for last place in their division. In 2008-2009, they went 39-43 as they barely got into the playoffs claiming the 8th seed. It really is astonishing how far the Pistons have fallen; I mean this was a franchise that had seven consecutive seasons of 50 or more wins! Not only that, they also made six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances, they even threw in a NBA championship during that stretch and yet they sit here today at the bottom of the league. What is the difference, what changed?
Some people may say coaching plays a big factor, but I will remind you that during that seven year stretch of pure dominance they had three different coaches: Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown and Flip Saunders. All three had their achievements, Carlisle guided the Pistons to their first 50 win season in six years, Larry Brown brought Detroit home a NBA championship, and Flip Saunders led the Pistons to a 64-18 record in 2006 season (where they started out 37-5, second best start all time). All three were different types of coaches, so coaching is not the problem.
Some may say the quality of players, but I will also point out that the Pistons never really had any star players. Rasheed was talented, but he never looked the same after he left Detroit. Chauncey Billups was a very good point guard and did very well in Denver. Richard Hamilton is a role player, whether anyone will admit it or not, he can not carry a team by himself. The Pistons thrived all those years because they had swagger, they had an edge that so many great teams have…they played as a team. They knew they were going to win, and if things were not going right they would come together and played even better in the tough situations. Pistons fans know exactly what I am talking about. The players in Detroit today are no less talented than the team that achieved so much success, but they just do not have that edge, the togetherness that great teams have.
I believe this stems from a lack of leadership, and the Pistons have none, they are a team that complains and points fingers at each other. Ben Gordon has never truly been a leader, Richard Hamilton always had Chauncey to take charge and McGrady is, well nothing that even resembles a leader. I am not bashing these players, as they are all very talented and very good basketball players, but if a team has no one on the floor pointing them in the right direction, then you are going to have a team that folds late in games. Coaches can only do so much, Detroit needs a leader and preferably that leader would be in the form of a point guard.
But all is not lost, despite the Pistons less then stellar record, they still have an outside shot at the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, only 5 ½ games behind Indiana with 15 games left. We can always hope, isn’t that why we love sports in the first place?
About the Author
Written by Colton Turnquist
I have been an avid sports fan my entire life and even pursued a professional sports career in golf. I played professionally for three and half years trying to make it on the PGA Tour, but never broke through. I want to stay involved with sports and what better way than writing about them!