Detroit Pistons long road out of mediocrity

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Detroit Pistons

Former Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith defends current Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin, then with the Los Angeles Clippers. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Detroit Pistons have stumbled since trading Chauncey Billups and signing Josh Smith. They’ve been stuck for poor drafting, and it’s a long way out.

It’s 2008, the Pistons just reached their 6th straight conference finals. The end. Well, at least for the great Detroit Basketball that we had grown accustomed to for 6, incredible seasons.

Fast forward to Game 4 of the 2008-09 season, Joe Dumars pulls the trigger on a move that saw our beloved Chauncey Billups vaulted for an aging superstar. The whole point was to grab a “star”, while clearing cap space for the following summer.

This was a BAD move, but not just because it ended the six straight Conference Finals streak. This move catapulted  the Pistons into a decade of mediocrity that they’re still trying to get out of.

Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva were coming off of solid seasons in Chicago and Milwaukee respectively, and the Pistons decided to throw all of their long-term money at them, and hope for the best. That went well.

During that time the Pistons didn’t hit the 40-win mark, which is fine for a team rebuilding, but to properly rebuild you need to draft well. And that’s a HUGE thing the Pistons have not done over this time frame.

where are they now?: Pistons draft picks of the last 10 years

They weren’t bad enough for a Top 5 pick, and weren’t close to competing for a playoff spot. The absolute death zone for any team. While drafting is always a crapshoot and every team passes on great players every year, the Pistons seemingly got it wrong time and time again.

2010: Drafted Greg Monroe over Gordon Hayward, Paul George

2011: Drafted Brandon Knight over Kemba Walker, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris

2012: Drafted Andre Drummond – Nice!

2013: Drafted Kentavious Caldwell-Pope over CJ McCollum, Giannis Antetokounmpo

2015: Drafted Stanley Johnson over Devin Booker, Justise Winslow, Myles Turner

2016: Drafted Henry Ellenson over Caris LeVert, Malik Beasley, Pascal Siakam

2017: Drafted Luke Kennard over Donovan Mitchell

re-draft: Who the Pistons should have drafted since Darko in 2003

Fast forward to 2014 where the Pistons new owner Tom Gores wants to make a splash. Enter Josh Smith and his 4-year, $64 million contract? Nowadays, that contract doesn’t seem too wild, but this was before the salary cap spike and this was a lot of money that turned into a borderline All-Star who lost his athleticism and basketball skill the second he put on a Pistons Jersey. No one could’ve predicted that the Monstars would’ve come for Smith, but they did, and it set the franchise back even further.

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