John Hollinger of ESPN.com ranked every NBA team based on their all-time results. The Pistons are 13th.
I’m willing to concede the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs and Bulls are ahead of Detroit. The 76ers, Trail Blazers and maybe even the Jazz or Rockets would be in the discussion with the Pistons for the next tier.
But 13th? C’mon, John.
Here’s a rundown of his scoring system:
- Regular season wins: one point
- Playoff wins: two points
- Playoff series wins: four points
- Championships: 30 points
- All-Star selections: two points
- Relocation: –100 points
- Intangibles: –150-150 points
It’s all per years played, so newer teams have a chance. You can find Hollinger’s full explanation of scoring here.
I can’t access Detroit’s numbers because any team ranked after 10th requires Insider to view. But I crunched some numbers.
The Pistons are seventh in championships per year and fourth in playoff wins per year. They’re just 17th in wins per year, but Hollinger says they’ve had more All-Stars than anyone besides the Lakers and Celtics. (You can see a league-wide table with wins, playoff wins and championships per year after the jump).
Also, six straight trips to the conference finals and five straight appearances by the Bad Boys should leave the Pistons high in playoff series wins.
Detroit gets a relocation penalty. But so does Oklahoma City (12th), Houston (10th), Utah (seventh) and Philadelphia (sixth).
What went wrong for Detroit?
I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m guessing the Pistons took a hit in intangibles. Here’s what Hollinger went on:
Intangibles matter too, and I created a separate category for special circumstances. For instance, the Blazers of the early part of this decade were perfectly respectable in terms of wins and losses, but few were eager to admit rooting for that team because of all the scoundrels littering the roster. This is the one part that’s completely subjective, but for several teams I subtracted or added 50 to 150 points based on playing styles, player behavior, superstars and other major factors.
My first guess was Detroit lost points for the brawl at the Palace. But the Pacers broke even on intangibles without having done anything to deserve a positive offset (“Thirty years of good karma” – What?).
No, the Pistons probably lost points because of the Bad Boys’ style (and maybe the Rick Carlisle/Larry Brown modern reincarnation, too). And that’s ridiculous. It’s jealousy.
That style should be a plus. If you’re not a Pistons fan, imagine your favorite team played that way (and the NBA still allowed it). You’d love it.
Detroiters thought Rick Mahorn was a hard worker, a tough guy and scrappy when he was a Piston. When he went to the 76ers and fought Bill Laimbeer, he was a thug.
He’s the kind of guy you love when he’s on your team and hate when he’s somewhere else. The Bad Boys were full of them.
So, other teams’ fans won’t accept it. Fine. I’m guessing Hollinger didn’t either. (Although maybe Detroit’s low ranking is for another reason. Without Insider, I don’t know for sure.)
But as a Piston fan, I’ll always be proud of the Jordan rules, holding five straight opponents under 70 points in 2004 and Laimbeer’s elbows.
This doesn’t really have much to do with the Pistons’ low ranking (it actually improves it), but I found it interesting. A brief excerpt of the article that’s available without insider:
Detroit, land of stars? Believe it. Only the Lakers and Celtics have produced more All-Star seasons than the Pistons’ 101. Whether the team is up or down, it usually has at least one bona fide star. From Dave Bing to Isiah Thomas to Grant Hill to Allen Iverson, the Pistons have almost always had at least one performer who could get fans in the door.
Nearly half (47) of the All-Stars were in addition to another selection for a given year. The Pistons haven’t really been built on stars. They’ve been successful when they’ve had a few very good players at the same time.
That should be worth some intangibles points. Teamwork – sounds pretty commendable to me.