The Detroit Pistons headed into the season with large aspirations but fell significantly short, due to their star’s injury.
A year ago Blake Griffin was without question the most valuable player to the Detroit Pistons, and it wasn’t really close.
Averaging 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game on 46.3 percent shooting, (36.2 percent from three-point range) had Detroit been able to win more than 41 games there’s a real chance he could have received MVP consideration.
He transcended his perimeter shot, he scored 50 points against the Sixers, and he willed the Pistons into the playoffs. Most everything about him was exceptional on a nightly basis.
While there were certainly some rocky moments throughout the year, he was undoubtedly the best thing about Detroit.
So heading into the 2019-2020 season, fans and players alike had anticipated that the Pistons would be able to put together another respectable season.
However, seemingly everything that could go wrong did, and it all happened within the first two months of the season.
Griffin was still nursing a knee injury that he suffered at the end of last season, Reggie Jackson was dealing with a back injury, (and missed the first three months of the season) and Luke Kennard went down with bilateral knee tendinitis on December 26th, which he never returned from.
Whenever Griffin was on the floor, he was noticeably hurt. His movements seemed tentative which led to issues on both ends of the floor, and the elevation on his jump shot was just completely gone.
It was obvious that something was still bothering him, and sure enough he underwent surgery that ended his season.
While this was certainly a devastating blow to fan morale, as the outlook on the season had already become fairly bleak to this point, it actually ended up working out for the Pistons in a way.
One of the biggest problems in Detroit for the better part of the last decade was their inability to commit to a specific direction. A reoccurring theme of re-tooling when an actual rebuild was needed became all too prevalent.
However, with Griffin’s injury feeling like the final nail in the coffin for the Pistons, it felt like something drastic needed to change, and it did.
On January 2nd, Detroit’s 2019 first round pick Sekou Doumbouya made his first career start against the Clippers in what felt like the dawn of a new era.
Then reports had begun to surface that the Pistons were shopping Andre Drummond, and while this wasn’t anything new considering he’d been involved in rumors for several years, this was different.
At the trade deadline, the Pistons sent him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. A player who was arguably Detroit’s best in this decade had found a new home.
It felt rather odd to see him no longer wearing a Pistons uniform, but he and the team were due for a shakeup. It was time to go their separate ways.
Buyouts of Jackson and Markieff Morris came in the following weeks.
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Through all of this, one thing remained consistent. The Pistons were making their direction clear and they were embracing what they had become; a rebuilding team.
As it stands they may be losing a considerable number of games, but they’re staying competitive. At the end of the day, losing is going to be valued more in their current situation. Detroit currently has the fifth best odds at landing the top pick in the draft.
This will give them a chance to draft one of the top prospects in this years class, someone who they feel could help turn this franchise around.
Without Griffin’s injury, none of this happens.
We don’t see that the Pistons do have some promise in their younger core, they may not have moved on from Drummond, and they wouldn’t have started their rebuild. Instead, they likely would have continued to be stuck in a state of purgatory.
Griffin’s injury jump started something that was long overdue. What happens next season when he’s fully healthy remains to be seen, but he found yet another way to benefit Detroit this year.