Detroit Pistons winning with NBA misfits, how?

Detroit Pistons guard Frank Jackson (5) attempts to dunk the ball against LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr.. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons guard Frank Jackson (5) attempts to dunk the ball against LA Clippers forward Marcus Morris Sr.. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons are doing well with mostly a bunch of players who either other NBA teams did not want, or were undervalued in the draft. Are they just smarter than everyone else?

For those on the ‘Tank for Cade’ bandwagon, the Detroit Pistons are doing a disturbing thing: winning games. In its last 10 contests, the Pistons have the exact same record as the Portland Trail Blazers.

Now, lets be realistic. Detroit is not winning enough to make the playoffs (as of Monday morning, they are 6.5 games behind getting the last playoff spot). But with other teams lighting their roster on fire, their seemingly secure spot in the bottom three of the NBA standings is in danger.

The teams with the worst three records all have the best chance of getting the No.1 pick in the NBA Draft lottery.

Going into the night of April 19’s NBA games, Detroit has the third worst at 17-40. However, Orlando is only a game behind (ahead?) with 18 wins and Cleveland and Oklahoma City are just two back at 20.

(Does anyone remember how Cavs fans were laughing earlier in the year, when they had a fast start, when people (Me) questioned the effectiveness of starting two small point guards with similar skills)

Related Story. Detroit Pistons are tanking, the Thunder are losing. light

The point is, the Pistons are not going all out to win every game. In the last two games, they have had seven (!) players on the injured list. At this point in the season, there is absolutely no reason to push a player onto the court, even with a mild bump or bruise. And they are not.

Yet, Detroit keeps winning. Of course, when you playing the Thunder and Wizards a lot, that sort of thing is going to happen, but they also came within a whisker of a couple of more wins, almost topping the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets.

Even though they are shorthanded, how are the Pistons still winning a decent amount of games? The fact they play hard is one reason. Another is they are playing people other NBA teams had given up on, but they apparently should not have.

Detroit Pistons kind of like island of Misfit toys

In the old cartoon ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’, there was an Island  of Misfit toys. A place where toys that had been abandoned because it was thought they were no good.

There was a happy ending, as Santa came and got the misfit toys and distributed them to children.

Similarly, Detroit is using its own sort of misfits to beat NBA squads.

In its,110-104, victory over the Thunder, here was Detroit’s starting lineup:

  • Saddiq Bey: A rookie taken No. 19, who had dropped further than expected.
  • Sekou Doumboya: A player who had sat on the bench much of the season, and shown little reason not to keep him there, until recently.
  • Isaiah Stewart: A rookie who was considered a reach when Detroit drafted him at No. 16. He is also only 6-foot-8 and plays center.
  • Josh Jackson: A former No. 4 overall pick whose value slid so much, he was playing in the G-League last season.
  • Killian Hayes: Getting his first start in three months after missing most of the season with an injury. And he was not doing all that great before he got hurt.

Not exactly the 2017 Warriors here. A collection of rookies and underachievers.

The backstories for the first few players off the bench are even more misfit like:

Frank Jackson: A two-way player out of the league for the first month.

Saben Lee: A two-way player and rookie second-round pick.

Jahlil Okafor: A former No. 3 overall pick who is with Detroit on a minimal salary. He just returned to the team following knee surgery.

Tyler Cook: A scrappy post player on a 10-day contract who had been let go by the Pelicans earlier this year.

Except for Hayes, all of them have the same trait in common: Other NBA teams did not value them very highly.

Of those nine players, how many of them would be in the regular rotation for, say, the Clippers? Answer: 0. Yet the Clippers needed a last-second three-pointer from Reggie Jackson to beat the Pistons (although this was not quite the lineup L.A. faced, but you get the point).

Detroit general manager Troy Weaver should be commended for finding so many diamonds in the rough. And coach Dwane Casey should get kudos into making a squad of rookies, fringe players and bench guys into a team that can play well enough to be competitive and win some games.

Again, outside of Hayes, there is no one in the group of nine that another NBA team could not have had, for the right price. Which must make losing them even feel worse.

Next. Detroit Pistons’ Isaiah Stewart might compare best to Wes Unseld. dark

The rest of the season should be enjoyable for Pistons fans. Who does not enjoy rooting for a lovable band of misfits.

It also helps that these misfits can play.