Detroit Pistons: Good at building leads, bad at winning

The Pistons have built double-digit leads in 15 games this season.

They’ve lost most of them.

There is obviously a statistically significant correlation between average largest lead and winning percentage, but the Pistons – who rank 12th in average largest lead and 26th in winning percentage – fall furthest from the line of best fit.

Sheet 1

It’s worth noting that the Pistons’ average largest lead is inflated by a 40-point win over the Suns and three other wins Detroit led by 20 in, but the Pistons’ blown leads are also a significant factor. Why have they blown so many leads? Take your pick, but the answer probably includes elements of at least some the following:

  • It’s random noise that straightens itself out during the larger sample of a full 48 minutes.
  • The Pistons are a mentally weak team that falters under pressure.
  • Lawrence Frank creates good game plans.
  • Frank adjusts slowly during games.
  • The Pistons have played more games than any other team, and fatigue affects them late in games.
  • Opponents believe they should beat the lowly Pistons, and that mentality keeps opponents unfocused early and pushes them through late.

Depending on which of those theories – or others – you subscribe to, you can make a reasonable case that it’s either a positive that the Pistons are building leads or a negative that they’re blowing them.

Personally, I think random noise is the biggest factor, so I’m more encouraged than discouraged. The Pistons are good enough to build leads consistently, but not good enough to win consistently. That’s not great, but it sure beats losing big most nights – which is how last season began.

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