Chevette to Corvette No. 7: The 2007-08 Detroit Pistons

Facts

  • Actual record: 59-23
  • Pythagorean record: 62-20
  • Offensive rating: 111.4 (6th of 30)
  • Defensive rating: 102.9 (4th of 30)
  • Arena: The Palace of Auburn Hills
  • Head coach: Flip Saunders

Playoffs

  • Beat the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, 4-2
  • Beat the Orlando Magic in the second round, 4-1
  • Lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, 4-2

Leaders

  • Points per game: Richard Hamilton (17.3)
  • Rebounds per game: Antonio McDyess (8.5)
  • Assists per game: Chauncey Billups (6.8)
  • Steals per game: Chauncey Billups (1.3)
  • Blocks per game: Rasheed Wallace (1.7)

Top player

Chauncey Billups

For what it’s worth, Rasheed Wallace received an MVP vote, and Richard Hamilton improved his already-impressive true shooting percentage from the regular season to the playoffs, 55.2 to 55.9, against some very strong defenses.

Although Billups became much less effective in the postseason, shooting poorly and assisting less, his regular season was strong enough to establish himself as the team’s top player. His .257 Win Shares per 48 minutes were a career high and his 13.5 win shares were second only to 2005-06, when he finished fifth in MVP voting.

Key transaction

Drafted Rodney Stuckey with No. 15 pick

Rodney Stuckey’s long-term impact in Detroit is far from determined, but he immediately established himself as a rookie during a second-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic.

After scoring 19 points off the bench in a Game 3 loss, Stuckey started the final two games of the series for an injured Chauncey Billups. In Game 5, he had 15 points (on 5-of-10 shooting) and six assists. In his starts, both Detroit wins, Stuckey didn’t turn the ball over at all.

Needless to say, people were excited. Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press, via Detroit Bad Boys:

The key to the 2009 season – and really, the 10 seasons after that — is Rodney Stuckey. I don’t think people fully understand how good he can be, and how soon.

"The sky is the limit for that kid," Pistons guard Lindsey Hunter said. "Once he gets his feet planted fully, there’s not many people who can do what this kid can do. He has such incredible upside. Physically, you look at Deron Williams and those types of guys, and he possesses some things that those guys don’t possess."

Utah’s Williams, of course, is one of the best point guards in the NBA. He and New Orleans star Chris Paul are expected to define the lead-guard play for the next 10 years. University of Memphis star Derrick Rose should be that kind of player, too.

Several people in the Pistons organization, from the front office to the players, think Stuckey can be in that group.

Do you understand what this means?

In his second year, Williams was dominating playoff games. In his second year, Paul was already an elite player.

Rodney Stuckey can be the best player on the team — next year. He can be an All-Star –- next year.

Trend watch

Reached sixth straight conference finals

That was the most since the Lakers made eight in row between 1982 and 1989 and tied for the fourth-longest streak of all time, behind another Laker run of eight (1948-55) and the Celtics’ 13 in a row from 1957-69.

Why this season ranks No. 7

The 2007-08 season was the Pistons’ last stand. Their 59 wins were the second-most during their run of six straight conference finals, and their 62 Pythagorean wins were a franchise record.

Had Danny Ainge not possessed the vision – I hate complimenting that guy – to build the first Big Three of the era, the Pistons very well could have won their fourth title. Detroit had already beaten the East’s only other team with more than 45 wins, the Magic. In the Finals against the Lakers, the Pistons, with homecourt advantage, would have been about even money.

Alas, Ainge did add Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to Boston mainstay Paul Pierce, and the Celtics, who didn’t win a road game in the first two rounds, hit their stride in the Conference Finals against the Pistons, winning 4-2.

The old guard – Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace – played well one last time, reminding everyone how much the group had accomplished. With 21-year-old Rodney Stuckey and 24-year-old Jason Maxiell, who tied for ninth in Most Improved Player voting, the Pistons’ future seemed bright, too.

The Pistons fired Flip Saunders after the season and replaced him with one-year assistant Michael Curry. Maybe the short-term outlook was a little murkier, but coming off such an incredible run and possessing such promising young players, nearly every team in the league wished they were in the Pistons’ shoes.

As far as crossroad years go, the 2007-08 Detroit Pistons had one of the best ever.

Previously

Tags: Richard Hamilton Rodney Stuckey