Chevette to Corvette No. 42: The 1960-61 Detroit Pistons


  • Actual record: 34-45
  • Pythagorean record: 34-45
  • Points scored per game: 118.6 (5th of 8)
  • Points allowed per game: 121.0 (7th of 8)
  • Arena: Detroit Olympia
  • Head coach: Dick McGuire


  • Lost in first round to the Los Angeles Lakers, 3-2


  • Points per game: Bailey Howell (23.6)
  • Rebounds per game: Bailey Howell (14.4)
  • Assists per game: Gene Shue (6.8)

Top player

Bailey Howell

As Dan Feldman pointed out, just one season earlier, Bailey Howell had a strong rookie seasons and was one of the Pistons’ best draft picks in years. By his second season, he’d become the team’s best player, wresting the team lead in scoring and rebounding from veteran teammates Gene Shue and Walter Dukes respectively. Howell made the first of his six All-Star appearances in 1961 and had his best All-Star Game performance — 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Shue and Dukes also made the All-Star Game in 1961.

Key transaction

Drafted Jackie Moreland with No. 4 pick

The Pistons had a top four pick in a draft that produced five All-Stars and three future Hall of Famers. Much like the famed 2003 draft class, however, the Pistons didn’t come away with any of the five. Oscar Robertson and Jerry West were the top two picks in the draft, followed by Darrell Imhoff. The Pistons selected Moreland at the No. 4 spot, ahead of future Hall of Famer Lenny Wilkens and future All-Star Bill Shaffer.

Moreland averaged 7.3 points per game and shot 40 percent as a rookie. He spent five seasons in Detroit, never averaging more than 9.1 points per game, although he did have more success in the ABA with New Orleans after leaving the Pistons.

Why this season ranks No. 43

Dick McGuire took over midway throught he 1959-60 season as player-coach after the team and Red Rocha parted ways. In 60-61, he was given the job on a permanent basis and retired as a player. The team improved slightly, winning four more games than the previous season and stretching the Lakers, who beat them 2-0 in the playoffs the previous season, to a full five games in the first round. With McGuire coach and a trio of All-Stars in Howell, Shue and Bailey, the Pistons finally seemed close to becoming a legitimate title-contending team.


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