Achtung Panzer! The 4-21 Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons, at 4-21 through games of December 10, hold the dubious distinction of not just being the worst team in the NBA in absolute terms in 2021 (although the 5-21 Orlando Magic are nipping at their heels) but being well on their way to the worst season in franchise history. They have zero double digit wins. The teams they have beaten have been terrible. They have the second-worst Net Rating—Orlando is worst. And it’s not like Dwane Casey is an awful coach. This is just a team that has had three straight years of the most utterly putrid …

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The Detroit Pistons’ Best Season: 1989

The Boston Celtics had gone to four straight NBA Finals between 1984 and ’87, winning two, but their reign atop the Eastern Conference had started to show signs of coming to an end as Larry Bird‘s back and Kevin McHale‘s foot conspired to show the age of Boston’s core. But by 1988, it still took monumental effort to position a team to truly dethrone the reigning kings, and into that void stepped a Detroit Pistons team that put up a 54-28 record in the regular season, then got their revenge in six games in the East finals before falling to …

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The Rise and Fall of LiAngelo Ball

LiAngelo Ball got a training-camp roster invite from the Detroit Pistons and managed to rack up one DNP-CD in a preseason game before the Pistons sent him packing Monday morning. Unlike his established older brother Lonzo Ball and his highly-touted Charlotte Hornets third-overall draft pick LaMelo Ball, “Gelo” never quite had the talent or the chops necessary to stick in the NBA. Which…let’s face it, inviting him to camp in the first place was a publicity stunt. How big would an NBA roster have to be in order for Gelo to make it? Would it be the 40-man roster of …

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Adrian Dantley: Was He Any Good?

Adrian Dantley was traded by the Utah Jazz to the Detroit Pistons during the 1986 offseason for Kent Benson and Kelly Tripucka, and from there his career arc was one of going from regular Western Conference All-Star and one of the best small forwards in the league (at least by reputation) to a guy who never sniffed another All-Star Game and who would be traded in 1989 for Mark Aguirre just in time for Aguirre to integrate himself into two Detroit title teams. Now, on the surface, that looks like a precipitous decline, and in terms of counting stats, it …

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Rasheed Wallace: Was He Any Good?

“Ball don’t lie” is the guiding principle for every single thing I write for this site. From statistical analysis to comparing teams within and across eras to this very series you’re reading right now, the only thing that ultimately matters is what happened on the court, as measured and counted by the tools we have available to determine not just who won or lost and by how much, but how and why each player on the court contributed toward or actively hindered his team’s efforts. “Ball don’t lie”, of course, has another name around here: “Sheed’s Law”, after Rasheed Wallace. …

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Vinnie Johnson: Was He Any Good?

Since the NBA started tracking Games Started as a stat leaguewide in the 1981-82 season, the top 5 seasons by Win Shares of any player who played in at least 70 games while starting 10 or fewer of them represent the pinnacle of what a sixth man can do. The list, in order? Kevin McHale (10.5 WS, BOS, 1983-84), Detlef Schrempf (9.8, IND, 1991-92), Antawn Jamison (9.0, DAL, 2003-04), Schrempf again (9.0, IND, 1990-91), and Montrezl Harrell (8.7, LAC, 2018-19.) As you look further down that list, you see great bench guys; Steve Kerr is at 7th and 21st for …

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Isiah Thomas: Was He Any Good?

At what point do NBA statistics become completely meaningless? The Detroit Pistons won three straight Eastern Conference championships between 1988 and 1990, initially falling short in the NBA Finals against Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers before slaying the demons from Tinseltown a year later and providing the first of what would be two close-but-no-cigar Finals defeats for Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers for their second title. But when you look at those Pistons teams statistically, what you see is what was supposed to be a very good but not quite great team, exactly the team the …

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Are the 2019-20 Detroit Pistons Good?

The Detroit Pistons are at a place in their franchise history not unlike the old TV game show “Card Sharks”, in which contestants had to guess whether the next card in a sequence would have a value higher or lower than the one under discussion. On Card Sharks, if the host flipped over an eight, that was the nightmare of probability for the player—with aces high, that meant a coin-flip-odds proposition and lots of suspense from the audience. In the NBA, it means a 41-win team that could win more or fewer games than it did in 2018-19. Vegas has …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part II: Central Division

Yesterday, we took a look at the Wiggins Factor of teams in the Atlantic Division. We found some great value rookie contracts that set the bar for the very best young value plays in Pascal Siakam, Jarrett Allen, and Mitchell Robinson. We also found some terrible values, most of them on the Knicks, and established that somewhere around 400 or 500 is the cutoff for when a contract is just a bad use of the money even on a superstar player. We also found that the standard changes as you rise up the scale; guys on a rookie contract are …

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Breakfast Special: 182 Fishing Trips Start Today

Last night was a chance to say goodbye to NBA yesterdays before looking ahead to the playoffs and two months of NBA tomorrows. Dirk Nowitzki played his last game with his career ending as it always seemed to go when he played—getting outclassed by the San Antonio Spurs. Dwyane Wade notched a triple-double with LeBron James and Chris Bosh in attendance, reminding Miami that they haven’t won a stinkin’ thing since 2014. An era of NBA basketball is over. Some on Twitter are wondering where we go from here. Regular readers of Pace and Space already know the answer to …

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