Chevette to Corvette No. 32: The 1992-93 Detroit Pistons



  • Actual record: 40-42
  • Pythagorean record: 38-44
  • Offensive Rating: 107.4 (18th of 27)
  • Defensive Rating: 108.9 (15th of 27)
  • Arena: Palace of Auburn Hills
  • Head coaches: Ron Rothstein


  • Points per game: Joe Dumars (23.5)
  • Rebounds per game: Dennis Rodman (18.3)
  • Assists per game: Isiah Thomas (8.5)
  • Steals per game: Alvin Robertson (2.2)
  • Blocks per game: Dennis Rodman (.7)

Top player

Joe Dumars

Ben Gulker will probably kill me for not picking Dennis Rodman and his league-leading 18.3 boards per game here, but I have to go with Joe D. At 29-years-old, with teammates Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer aging, Dumars asserted himself as Detroit’s go-to player, averaging a career-best 23.5 points per game. He shot 47 percent overall and 37 percent from three while also dishing out four assists per game. The team finished below .500 and missed the playoffs because they had no rim protector after trading John Salley in the offseason, Rodman, the team’s best defender, missed 19 games, and Laimbeer, who turned 35 during the season, was not the same defensive presence he used to be.

Key transaction

Traded John Salley to Miami for Isaiah Morris and a first round pick

The Salley trade was the first of several trades and retirements that dismantled the Bad Boys. Salley went to Miami, Rodman would be traded the following offseason and Thomas and Laimbeer would both retire in 1993-94. But, oddly enough, Salley was the only player from that group who brought back any value in return. The Pistons used that pick from Miami to draft Lindsey Hunter.

(runner-up) Traded Orlando Woolridge to Milwaukee for Alvin Robertson

I had to pick one more in this section just to point out the dysfunction of the Pistons of this era. Rodman was well into his meltdown after the team parted ways with Chuck Daly, and the Rodman-Pistons relationship ended poorly in the offseason. But Robertson was no picnic either. He finished the 92-93 season and then was traded in November ’93:

"Alvin Robertson of the Detroit Pistons had a fight with BILLY McKINNEY, the team’s player personnel director, shortly after McKinney told him on Thursday that he was being suspended for three games for skipping practices and missing back rehabilitation sessions, two newspapers reported yesterday.Robertson pinned McKinney on a courtside table during a practice session at Auburn Hills, Mich., and coaches and players had to pull him off, The Detroit Free Press and The Oakland Press of Pontiac, Mich., reported.Robertson has now been suspended indefinitely.“It was a split second when I lost my cool,” Robertson said of the fight. “And that split second is going to get me more media attention than I have had for the last two years, so I certainly regret the incident.”"

Trend watch

Can’t make it 10 straight

The Pistons missed the playoffs by one game, ending their streak of nine straight years in the postseason.

Why this season ranks No. 32

It’s amazing how much this season has in common with the 2008-09 Pistons. The team was at the end of a long stretch of contending, but rather than tear down, they tried to patch things up on the fly by hiring an underwhelming coach because he was familiar with the team (assistant Ron Rothstein in 92-93, assistant Michael Curry in 08-09). While the 08-09 Pistons tried to mix young players as a way to invigorate the core, the 92-93 version tried the same “shake things up” tactic in the rotation with veterans like Terry Mills, Robertson, Olden Polynice and Gerald Glass. In both cases, it didn’t have the desired affect. Injuries and malaise plagued both teams, as did age and an abundance of minutes played, which caught up with key players on both squads. Both finished below .500 and while the 08-09 Pistons managed to sneak into the playoffs in a weaker East, they were quick first round fodder, showing they didn’t really belong in the postseason.

Prior to the season, the Pistons in 1992-93 believed that they just needed a quick re-tooling, a fresh but familiar voice at coach and a few roster tweaks to give their Thomas-Dumars-Rodman-Laimbeer core one last run at contention. The season proved that that group didn’t have that last run in them.