The Detroit Pistons are on pace to break all the wrong NBA records
By Zach Payne, Sports Editor
When young kids dream of becoming professional athletes, they don’t just want to make it to the show. They dream of being superstars, living for the big moments, winning championships, and going down as legends in the history books.
Some kids get to live out that dream. Others end up in the history books for the wrong reasons. Currently, that is happening, as the NBA world is watching something special unfold this season.
That is because the Detroit Pistons are finding themselves re-writing the history books, breaking records that nobody wants attached to their names.
The magic number for the current moment is 28. That is the amount of games the Pistons lost in a row. They now own the single-season record for the longest losing streak and tied for the longest losing streak that spanned across seasons. However, with how dreadful the Pistons have been this season, there may be more records on the horizon.
As it stands right now, the Pistons hold a pitiful record of 3-31. Since starting the season 2-1, they’ve gone 1-30. They hold a winning percentage of just 8.8 per cent.
If their current pace holds, they will finish the season with a record of 7-75.
For context, the current NBA record for the worst in a season belongs to the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. That team finished their season with a record of 9-73. The worst winning percentage in a season belongs to the 2011-12 Charlotte Hornets. In the lockout-shortened season, their winning percentage was just 10.6 per cent.
The 2023-24 Pistons are on pace to break both of those records. The worst part is, they are on pace to do so with room to spare.
It’s difficult to describe just how bad this team has been. Even during the 76ers’ prime tanking years under Sam Hinke, they never even were quite this bad.
So what is going wrong with the Pistons? (aside from everything). It starts at the top, with a fundamental lack of self-awareness from management. You see, Pistons management was actually under the impression that the team could take a step this season. Led by emerging young star Cade Cunningham, and former coach of the year Monty Williams, there were signs of optimism regarding the direction of the team. As a result, they decided to go all-in on Williams as their coach of the future, giving him a lucrative six-year contract.
Safe to say that the deal has not been as advertised thus far. Through all the struggles, Williams has been constantly tweaking his lineups. He’s also yet to produce a combination of five players that has shown any signs of life.
A major problem for Williams is that the roster is fundamentally flawed. The Pistons are not built for the modern NBA, as they have too many players that are incapable of shooting from a distance. They are currently second last in the league, shooting just 33.4 per cent from three.
Because of that, it has been very difficult to effectively space the floor offensively. Which makes life more difficult for Cunningham. He has less space to operate with the ball in his hands, and no reliable shooters to pass to.
In a vacuum, the Pistons are asking Cunningham to play hero ball every single night. But even when he plays outstanding, there usually isn’t even enough of a floor from other players to escape with a win.
Another issue plaguing the Pistons is in the over-emphasis on the backcourt and centre positions, while completely neglecting the wings. Detroit has only a single player who is competent and plays on the wing. He also happens to have been injured for an extended stretch.
Bojan Bogdanovic has been relatively solid throughout his NBA career. This season he is one of very few Pistons players capable of shooting from three with any semblance of consistency. The problem? He’s played in just 15 of 34 games. However, now that he has returned to action, that’s at least some modicum of good news.
But on the whole, there aren’t a lot of sources for optimism as of now. Cunningham stands alone in that regard.
Detroit has fundamentally mismanaged and misunderstood their roster over the past few seasons. All of those issues are now reading their ugly years to create the ultimate disaster of a basketball team.
Now the only thing for them to do is sit and watch the disaster unfold. The saving grace is they are barreling toward another high-draft pick. They just have to start actually hitting on those picks and build a supporting cast around the young talent.
As for the rest of this season, Cunningham and company have to fight for their lives to avoid becoming the poster child for terrible NBA teams.