The Detroit Pistons have run out of options

Mar 21, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) looks to pass against Detroit Pistons small forward Reggie Bullock (25) and Andre Drummond (0) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) looks to pass against Detroit Pistons small forward Reggie Bullock (25) and Andre Drummond (0) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons most recent struggles have seemingly culminated in a buzzer beater loss to the league worst Brooklyn Nets. Facing the turbulent Chicago Bulls tonight, many expect head coach Stan Van Gundy to make a change to the starting lineup.

Embarrassing. Inexcusable. Pathetic. These were just some of the words I uttered last night as I stormed out of the Barclays Center following Brook Lopez‘s game winning buzzer beater, and just about the only ones that are fit to print. Even more embarrassing is that this isn’t an exception with this type of result isn’t an anomaly for the Detroit Pistons, as they’re 1-6 against both the Nets and Knicks the past two seasons. Stan Van Gundy said last night that he was “disappointed” with those results. He should be furious.

Good teams lose to bad teams all the time. After all, these are professional athletes and the NBA season is 82 games long. But good teams don’t lose to the worst team in the league while they’re fighting for a playoff spot, let alone twice in a single season. They don’t play flat for almost three and a half quarters before finally turning it on for the last eight minutes of the game. They don’t miss one defensive rotation after another. They don’t allow Brook Lopez to take nine essentially uncontested threes. They don’t get beaten on the offensive glass by a team playing a front court of 6’7 Quincy Acy and 6’8 Trevor Booker. Detroit’s small forward was bigger than Brooklyn’s center for a good chunk of the game, Brooklyn’s only true center took nine threes and the Pistons were STILL outscored 48-42 in the paint.

With the second game of a back to back (SEGABABA) against the Bulls tonight, SVG will be under tremendous pressure to make a change to the starting lineup, especially after the horrendous performances by Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond and Marcus Morris last night. But unless Van Gundy is willing to make a move that could potentially determine the near future of the franchise, any attempt at making a fix by tinkering with the starting lineup is futile.

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Making a change in the frountcourt would be a waste of time, as the Pistons have already demonstrated this year. Tobias Harris excelled off the bench, but the starting lineup with Jon Leuer cratered almost immediately. Stanley Johnson didn’t even play last night and has about as good a chance of replacing Marcus Morris in the starting lineup as Conan O’Brien did trying to replace Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. There is no legitimate option to play over KCP, and even if there was, why would Van Gundy take his best player out of the starting lineup?

There’s really only two players who could be replaced in a way that would make a difference on the court: Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. Both were bad last night, but they’ve been bad all season. Their ON/OFF splits are eye-popping, Drummond is at -10.8, Jackson at -12.6. Neither can play a lick of defense, which was fine last year when they were a constant scoring threat with the pick and roll, but that too has dried up.

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But benching Drummond and/or Jackson isn’t really an option either. Both players represent the largest contracts the Pistons have given out under Van Gundy, they’re HIS guys. Benching them either means that you’re either doing it to send a message to the players, or you legitimately believe your best chance to make the playoffs is by rolling with Aron Baynes and/or Ish Smith as your starters. Both of these are untenable positions for the Pistons organization.

Benching your stars to send a message, even when you don’t think it helps your chances of winning with just ten games left in the season and a playoff spot still well within reach would be a terrible look for the organization. But if Van Gundy makes the switch because he legitimately believes Smith or Baynes give him a better shot at making the playoffs than Jackson or Drummond, then he has to stick with them as the starters not just for the rest of the regular season, but the playoffs as well.

The upside with making such a move would be potentially making the playoffs as the eight seed in order to get swept by the Cavaliers for the second year in a row. The downside for Van Gundy and the organization would be tremendous. Not only would you alienate your two biggest stars, you’d also be admitting that you don’t believe you can win with them and crater any trade value they might have.

Benching either player for their backup this season and bringing them back next season would simply not be an option, for financial reasons alone. And should the Pistons still continue to struggle this year and miss the playoffs with Smith and/or Baynes in the starting lineup, Van Gundy would have a lot of questions to answer from both fans and the media. He can’t make a change to either spot without opening himself up to tremendous scrutiny as both a head coach and the head of the Pistons front office.

You can only rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic so many times before you realize that seating arrangements aren’t the issue, it’s the 100 foot gash in your hull. The Pistons have a center who can’t play offense and struggles in some essential defensive areas, forwards who can’t shoot and their best option at point guard is a player who has been on ten different teams in six years.

Next: SVG not ruling out starting lineup change

There’s no magic elixir. The water isn’t turning to wine, the iron isn’t turning to gold and the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. The Detroit Pistons are what they are, and they’ve got to deal with it. Unfortunately, so do we.