Was this season a success for the Detroit Pistons?

Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond. (Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons finished 41-41 and made the playoffs as the eighth seed, only to be swept by the Milwaukee Bucks. Was the season still a success?

The Detroit Pistons missed the playoffs after trading for superstar Blake Griffin. However, there was an understanding of how little time Griffin and the team had to gel and fight for the playoffs at the time.

Going into the last off-season, the idea of having almost six months of time to gel the Griffin, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson Big Three seemed at the least bit enticing. With new head coach Dwane Casey heading into the season, everyone was starting at the same spot in the learning process of his scheme.

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There would be no excuses if the teams best players were incapable of working together, and we would have to simply come to the conclusion these players cant play together.

Well, one season later, the Pistons made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. It was also the first time since 2016 that the Pistons finished with a .500 record or better.

But, just like 2016, the Detroit Pistons were swept pretty easily by the number one seed. Instead of the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, this time it was Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.

Did the Detroit Pistons make any progress?

Was the season a success?

Well, I guess the answer depends on what you’re looking at.

The Pistons still didn’t win a playoff game, upping their losing streak in the playoffs to 14 games; which is leading the entire NBA. The Pistons also didn’t make the playoffs in any higher seeding than they did in 2016, both times finishing at the eighth seed.

And unlike 2016, the Pistons didn’t keep each game close to where the national audience was asking, ” it was a sweep, but was it really?”. The Pistons got blown out in each game, seeing their biggest lead in the series happen in the first quarter of game four… of seven points.

So, technically they made no progress.


Well, I’m not so sure.

I don’t believe that was the most important thing to watch for this season. Yes, of course, we wanted more playoff success and higher seeding. That would mark for improvement without looking at anything else.

But, let’s not kid ourselves. The roster was not very deep, and the front office knowingly got worse at the trade deadline by trading Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock for the future. And even before trading those two, the roster from top to bottom was not very good at all, and the Pistons may have seriously had the worst wing rotation of any team attempting to win.

So, you may be asking, “Ku, well I don’t see where you’re going with this”.

Just stay with me.

The real story-line or area that Pistons fans should’ve been paying attention to all season comes down to two players.

Andre Drummond. Blake Griffin.

The Pistons NEEDED to find out if Drummond and Griffin not only work together but can have a team built around each other.

And for any person who watched the team this season, the answer is very obviously yes.

Like, a big fat resounding yes.

The numbers scream it at you.

Even in the two games, Griffin played in this playoff series where the Pistons average margin of loss was 19.5, the duo of Griffin-Drummond was still dominant. In the 37 minutes these two on the floor together, the Detroit Pistons were a +11.4 per 100 possessions. It’s a small sample size, but the playoff series in and of itself was small.

It’s great to see the duo work in the playoffs, where the stakes are higher and the games get harder.

But, it wasn’t just the small sample size in the playoffs. It was the entire season this duo played exceptionally well together.

Throughout the 82 game season, the Pistons were a +5.1 per 100 possessions when the Pistons star duo was on the court.

So, once again. There’s nothing hard about this.

These two work together, and they work together really well.

You can also look at these two individual seasons. Both of these players had what is arguably the best season of their careers. It’s not a coincidence it came with these two on the same team. I wrote about Drummond’s play here, so you can click the link to view that.

Yes, the Pistons didn’t win a playoff game.

Yes, they have the longest playoff losing streak.

But, our franchise players are legit. This off-season the Pistons gain much more flexibility to build a better roster, top to bottom.

Next. Luke Kennard earning his stripes. dark

It’s much easier to do so when you know your two best players play incredible together.