Chevette to Corvette No. 39: The 1974-75 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 40-42
  • Pythagorean record: 37-45
  • Offensive Rating: 98.3 (5th of 18)
  • Defensive Rating: 99.7 (17th of 18)
  • Arena: Cobo Arena
  • Head coach: Ray Scott

Playoffs

  • Lost in first round to the Seattle SuperSonics, 2-1

Leaders

  • Points per game: Bob Lanier (24.0)
  • Rebounds per game: Bob Lanier (12.0)
  • Assists per game: Dave Bing (7.7)
  • Steals per game: Dave Bing (1.5)
  • Blocks per game: Bob Lanier (2.3)

Top player

Bob Lanier

Lanier tied for 13th in MVP voting, but both an early crack at advanced statistics and his teammates rated him even higher at one point during the season. Pat Putnam and Jane Gauss of Sports Illustrated:

In an attempt to determine the NBA’s most complete player, statistics were fed into a computer. They included total scoring, assists, rebounds, blocked shots and field-goal scoring. Lanier came out No. 1. After 40 games he was averaging 24.7 points and playing tremendous defense. And he was doing it with a left knee wracked by tendinitis and arthritis. Every few days the knee has to be drained, and after every game he packs it in ice to reduce the pain and swelling.

"He’s our savior," says Rowe.

"Our healer," says Adams.

"Our leader," says Bing.

"Listen to those guys," says Lanier. "They think I’m Moses."

Key transaction

Drafted Eric Money with No. 39 pick

Money, a Detroit native, had a fine career, though he play just six seasons. In his fourth year, he averaged 18.6 points per game for Detroit. But he’s probably best known for scoring for both teams in a single game.

Trend watch

Momentum thwarted

The Pistons had gone from 26 to 40 to 52 wins the previous three seasons, but the big leaps ended in 1974-75. In fact, the Pistons went the wrong direction.

Why this season ranks No. 39

Dave Bing held out before the season, according to Eli Zaret’s “Blue Collar Blueprint.” New Pistons owner Bill Davidson refused the star guard’s demands, and Bing eventually reported. He had a fine year, but the fractured relationship between Bing and the Pistons would have more dire effects soon enough.

In the short term, a bunch of side issues derailed what appeared on track to be a promising season. Pat Putnam and Jane Gauss of Sports Illustrated:

For the Detroit Pistons all was normal early last week, which meant there weren’t enough healthy bodies to make up two practice teams. Coach Ray Scott had called for drills on Monday and Tuesday, but without his two All-Stars, Center Bob Lanier (wounded knee) and Guard Dave Bing (attending a funeral). And the wife of reserve Forward Howard Porter was seriously ill, and so he was spending the two days with her in New York. They were all back on Wednesday when Milwaukee came to town, but the visiting Bucks added some speed to an attack that has been less than quick and stopped the Pistons 102-92.

When it was over, Scott was saddened and you might have imagined from the way he spoke that this team was in dire trouble. "This isn’t a YMCA league," he said softly. "You just don’t show up one night a week and expect to win. You’ve got to work at it. And, for one reason or another—travel, injuries, personal problems—we haven’t been able to do that. Not for the last eight days. And in this league that’s a long time."

Previously

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