Chevette to Corvette No. 12: The 1973-74 Detroit Pistons



  • Actual record: 52-30
  • Pythagorean record: 52-30
  • Offensive Rating: 97.6 (1st of 23)
  • Defensive Rating: 93.8 (9th of 17)
  • Arena: Cobo Arena
  • Head coach: Ray Scott


  • Lost in first round to the Chicago Bulls, 4-3


  • Points per game: Bob Lanier (22.5)
  • Rebounds per game: Bob Lanier (13.3)
  • Assists per game: Dave Bing (6.9)
  • Steals per game: Chris Ford (1.8)
  • Blocks per game: Bob Lanier (3.0)

Top player

Bob Lanier

Bob Lanier’s basic numbers – 22.5 points and 13.3 rebounds per game – were outstanding as always, but his defense reached a new level. Lanier averaged 3.0 blocks and 1.4 steals per game, both career highs. He finished third in MVP voting.

Key transaction

Traded a first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks for George Trapp.

The Pistons had just two players not on the roster the year before: eighth-round pick Ben Kelso, who played just 298 minutes in 46 games during his only NBA season, and George Trapp. Steve Addy’s “The Detroit Pistons: More Than Four Decades of Motor City Memories”:

"When George Trapp was playing high school basketball at Highland Park in suburban Detroit, he dreamed of starring for his hometown NBA franchise. But he couldn’t have conceived the circuitous route he would take to reach the Pistons. Rather than stay local, the 6-foot-8 forward traveled to California to play two years at Pasadena Junior College and two at Long Beach State. He starred so prominently at the latter, twice being named the Pacific Coast Conference MVP, that the Atlanta Hawks picked him the first round (fifth overall) in 1971."

Trend watch

Snapped five-season playoff-less streak

Ray Scott was named head coaching during the previous season, and he guided the Pistons to a 38-37 record while he was at the helm, planting the seed for a better 1973-74. Detroit finished the job and made the playoffs for the first time in six years and second time in 10 years, earning Scott the Coach of the Year award.

Why this season ranks No. 12

The Pistons’ 54 wins were a franchise record at the time, and so was their .634 win percentage. Both would stand 1986-87 team tied them and the 1987-88 won 54 games.

Despite all their success, the 1973-74 Pistons played in the NBA’s toughest division. They had the league’s fourth-best record, but finished third in the Midwest. That meant a first-round matchup with the 54-28 Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The series switched cities after each game, and neither team ever held a multi-game lead. The Bulls won Game 7, 96-94 – the fifth game of the series decided by five or fewer points.