Detroit Pistons: Is culture more important than draft position?

Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons and Saddiq Bey #41 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons and Saddiq Bey #41 of the Detroit Pistons (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

If you follow the Detroit Pistons on Twitter, then you know there has been a war brewing all season between the “tank” people and the “culture” people.

One group thinks the Pistons should lose at all costs to try and get the elite talent that has eluded them for the last decade plus.

The other group thinks winning with young players learning to play the right way is how you build a winning franchise and that the draft will work itself out.

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So far the two sides have both been happy, as the Detroit Pistons are losing but doing it the right way with competitive play and big contributions from their young players.

But with the Magic, Rockets, Wizards and Cavaliers all lurking, the Pistons could find that their competitive play puts them outside of the top-five of the draft.

So should the Detroit Pistons do whatever it takes to lose, even if it means setting a bad precedent for their young guys? It’s debatable.

Detroit Pistons: Culture vs. draft, which is more important?

If you look across the league standings, you’ll find that very few of the best teams got there by landing a bunch of top-five picks in the draft.

Yes, nearly all the best teams have a star that they drafted, but few of them were in the top-five except for Jayson Tatum, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.

Teams like the Heat, Pacers, Jazz and Nuggets are perpetual playoff teams, yet have rarely chosen near the top of the draft and got their stars later in the lottery or outside of it all together.

So how do these teams keep winning? Part of it is that they are very good at drafting. All of the best teams not named the Lakers or Clippers found big time talent later in the draft, whether it was Bam Adebayo, Nikola Jokic or Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The other similarity is that they have a culture of winning. They have a system that they believe in and consistently find guys who can play within it. Culture doesn’t happen overnight, but through repetition and following a plan.

Outside of the 76ers, none of the current top teams got there by tanking and it took Philly seven long years and a lot of swings and misses to get to this point.

Talent obviously matters, and this season is a wash anyway, so the Detroit Pistons are still hoping to add the impact star they are missing.

But even if they don’t get the number one pick, they are slowly building their culture around guys who play hard and fit within the system they are trying to create.

The Detroit Pistons are headed in the right direction and I have faith that they will get there even if they don’t have the best luck with the lottery balls.

Culture needs talent to thrive but the best teams have shown that it doesn’t have to come from the top-five of the draft.

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