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The Losing Has Become Toxic For The Pistons

Pistons allowing a layup
(Noah K. Murray/AP)

Do the Detroit Pistons, losers of 26 straight regular season games, need more time? Or saving? That might be too simple of a reduction for Pistons fans to live with. After all, the Pistons are 4-46 in their last 50 regular season games. Save yourself time, and don’t look up what that record is in the previous 100 games (for those sadistic NBA watchers, it is 16-84). 

Similarly, more time could feel like a life sentence for a team that hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since the 2018-2019 season. Beyond that, the Pistons haven’t had a memorable last ten years in the association. The lack of playoff success has led to seven different head coaches (including one interim) in 14 seasons. For the newest head coach, Monty Williams, time seemed all but assured after his unprecedented contract agreement this past offseason. Even the basket full of high draft picks has made little difference in the trajectory of the Pistons’ organization. Since 2010, they have drafted in the top 15 ten times, with a streak of five straight first-round picks. 

Theoretically, the talent should be there. However, just by looking at the Pistons’ play, those players have faltered or been cast aside. Where does the blame fall? Plenty has been assigned to general manager Troy Weaver as the cause for all the dysfunction, but clearly, more is at play than just a bad GM. Is it possible that the issues are institutional and everything needs to be gutted? Whatever the case, as the calendar approaches February and the Pistons’ win total is an abomination, can anything be done to reboot this once-prestigious franchise? 


Player Evaluation and Development


Identifying the exact origin of the Pistons’ fall is a fruitless exercise because there is no clear place. It would be like figuring out where an avalanche started as it’s barreling down the mountain. That is to say that the lows keep getting lower. 

Perhaps not enough ground was covered on the Detroit front office in the introduction of this piece. In the recent history of the Pistons, the architect of a team on the brink of the wrong side of history is Troy Weaver. Weaver took over as the Pistons pointman before the 2020-2021 season. Equipped with cap space, draft picks, and a respected head coach in Dwane Casey, the team was better equipped than most to work through a rebuild. If we examine Weaver’s tenure, player acquisition and development is the place to start. So far, Weaver has accumulated a lot of first-round talent to the roster. 


Pistons Own 1st Round Picks  1st Rounders From Trades/Signing
Ausar Thompson (5th Overall in 2023) Jalen Duren (13th Overall in 2022)
Jaden Ivey (5th Overall in 2022) James Wiseman (2nd Overall in 2020) 
Cade Cunningham (1st Overall in 2021) Kevin Knox signed (9th Overall in 2018)
Killian Hayes (7th Overall in 2020) Marvin Bagley III (2nd Overall in 2017)


That list doesn’t include the previous regime selections of Luke Kennard and Sekou Dembouya, in addition to second-round picks Saddiq Bey and Bruce Brown, whom Weaver ultimately traded. Whether or not their contributions while on the Pistons were worthy enough, their play since does reflect poorly on the talent evaluation process. After all, accumulating draft capital and previous high lottery selections sounds responsible for a rebuilding team, but the internal process has to change when a handful haven’t panned out. 


Monty Python And Puzzling Pistons 


Was Monty Williams worth the $78 million contract he was offered this last offseason? That depends on your belief in his influence in the Phoenix Suns NBA Finals run. Williams ‘ Suns teams were floundering before adding Chris Paul (minus an eight-game stretch in the Bubble). Williams never could crack the code with the Suns, but roster turmoil and new ownership spelled bad news for Williams to stay longer. After he was let go, many tasty coaching opportunities were available. The Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, and Philadelphia 76ers, to name a few. Williams settled on the Pistons surely due to the lucrative contract and contract security. In addition, Williams has seemingly latched onto the young and developing teams to sturdy. However, it had looked as though Williams had been in enough contending situations over recent years that he would seek out one of those upper-echelon teams.

What’s most concerning with his coaching job this year is not that the team is 2-27. After all, the Pistons are supposed to be bad this year. The troubling part is that the Pistons cannot compete in any games, even against other bottom-tier squads. Capped off by a defeat to the understaffed Utah Jazz team, the Pistons have fallen to the Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies on their disastrous stretch. 

While trying to find answers defensively, the Pistons currently rank last in three-point makes and attempts, a sign that they are behind the modern NBA. It also makes it hard for them to go on runs with a sizeable three-point disparity. Most would like to see a sense of urgency (and imagination) on defense from Williams. However, the performances ultimately fall on the players to buy in. So far, that hasn’t happened. 

What’s Next?

It’s unlikely that Monty Williams will be dismissed after the season. Time is on his side for at least another season. The same can’t be said for Troy Weaver, whose fate is almost certainly termination if not because the Pistons will need to have a scapegoat. The trade deadline in February will also serve as a time for Detroit to prepare for the future. The Pistons’ decision-makers need to identify that their process isn’t working. Therefore, doing what they have done for the past four years, once again this season, would be frivolous. It’s easier said than done, but the Pistons need to look at teams like the Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic as examples for rebuilds. Until then, all the Pistons fans can hope for is that their losing streak doesn’t set an all-time record.



Matt Strout is an Editor for Back Sports Page. Matt studied Journalism and Sociology at Temple University for four years and graduated in May of 2022. While there, Matt wrote for multiple student and professional publications covering sports and the City of Philadelphia. Matt is originally from Maine and now resides in California. He has written content primarily for the NBA and PGA Tour. When Matt is not writing, he enjoys cooking and playing golf. Follow Matt’s social media on Twitter @TheRealStrout or Instagram @matt_strout96.

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