ESPN recently released their yearly Ultimate Team Standings, ranking every team from the four major leagues (NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB) on a variety of criteria, including fan relations, bang for the buck, ownership, affordability, stadium experience, players, coaching, and title track. A further explanation of each category can be found here.
Out of the 122 total teams, the Detroit Pistons ranked in the bottom half at #80. That left them at 19th in the NBA, with a few surprises underneath them (Lakers, Nets, Hawks) and a few that aren’t surprising at all (Kings, Bobcats, Knicks).
While it’s not their worst showing in the list’s nine-year history (#113 in 2011), it’s a significant drop from 2005, when they were #1 and fresh off an NBA championship. After ranking in the top 10 from 2004 to 2008, the team took a huge drop in 2009, when they fell to 64th. Not surprisingly, the 2009 season was the first season with Chauncey Billups or Rasheed Wallace, two major pieces in their six-season stretch of Eastern Conference Finals. It was also their second-straight losing season after not having a sub-.500 record since the 2000-2001 campaign. The next two seasons weren’t much better for Detroit, as they continued their freefall: 93rd in 2010 and 113th in 2011.
Their 2012 ranking is indicative of the team as it stands now: improving. Joe Dumars has recovered from several failed drafts with three straight solid ones, adding Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, and Andre Drummond – three possible franchise cornerstones – to the team. Tom Gores officially became the team’s new owner in 2011, and head coach Lawrence Frank has his full confidence, something that neither Michael Curry or John Kuester had. In addition, the Palace has undergone $13-$15 million renovations, continuing their push to be one of the league’s best arenas.
With these improvements, where will the team rank next season?