Chevette to Corvette No. 46: The 1959-60 Detroit Pistons


  • Actual record: 30-45
  • Pythagorean record: 30-45
  • Points scored per game: 111.6 (6th of 8)
  • Points allowed per game: 115.0 (3rd of 8)
  • Arena: Detroit Olympia
  • Head coach: Red Rocha (13-21), Dick McGuire (17-24)


  • Lost in first round to the Minneapolis Lakers, 2-0


  • Points per game: Gene Shue (22.8)
  • Rebounds per game: Walter Dukes (13.4)
  • Assists per game: Dick McGuire (5.3)

Top player

Gene Shue

Shue averaged 22.8 points, a career high, 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game – landing him seventh in Most Valuable Player voting.

Teammate Walter Dukes (15.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game) also had a fine season, finishing 11th in MVP voting.

Key transaction

Drafted Bailey Howell with No. 2 pick

Howell had a remarkable career at Mississippi State, and it appears to be the primary reason he made the Hall of Fame. His NBA career was pretty stellar too, evidenced by his career averages of 18.7 points and 9.9 rebounds per game in 12 NBA seasons, the first five with the Pistons.

He likely would’ve won Rookie of the Year if it weren’t for a first-year center named in Philadelphia named Wilt Chamberlain.

Trend watch

First highly successful draft pick in nine years

Howell was the Pistons’ first draft pick with at least 15 career win shares since George Yardley in 1950. Although win shares isn’t a perfect stat, it provides a rough measure of a player’s overall value. For perspective, Howell had 114.8 career win shares.

All that poor drafting was a big reason the Pistons struggled in this era.

Why this season ranks No. 46

As was often the case in their first 20 years in the NBA, the Pistons struggled so much, they fired their coach during the season. This time, that meant replacing Red Rocha with Dick McGuire.

The switch didn’t make much difference, and the Pistons finished 30-45 to claim the No. 2 seed (of three playoff teams) in the lowly Western Division. They were swept by the third-seeded and 25-50 Minneapolis Lakers, who lost to the St. Louis Hawks, who lost to the Boston Celtics.

The transitive theory says the Pistons were the NBA’s worst playoff team.


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