The Detroit Pistons have one of the worst records in the NBA, yet their season has been a rousing success.
Their team goals were to wipe the slate clean of aging veterans (check), develop their young talent (check) and finish in the bottom-3 of the NBA (nearly check).
The Pistons sit alone with the second-worst record with just two games to go, and if they lose them both, they are guaranteed no lower than the 6th pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Finishing second worst would give them a 52.1 percent chance at a top-four pick and 14 percent chance at the number one pick overall.
I should say that I am not a big fan of tanking and there isn’t a lot of evidence that it leads to titles. A lot of people have been congratulating the 76ers this season, but it has taken them seven plus years to get where they are, and they still haven’t even made the Finals.
But if you are going to tank, the Detroit Pistons are doing it the right way, and this season has been an absolute masterclass in how tanking should be done.
Detroit Pistons: If you are going to tank, embrace it early
One thing I’ve love about this season is that the Pistons made it clear early on that they were tanking. They tried to find homes for Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin as soon as possible and we able to get the two veterans off the roster, though in Griffin’s case, not yet off the payroll.
If you look at the other teams at the bottom of the NBA, nearly all of them had notions of making the playoffs this season. Houston, Minnesota, Cleveland and Orlando all thought they might be playoff contenders at the beginning of the season, so their tanks came out of necessity, not by design.
Because of that, their seasons have to be considered failures, while Detroit actually achieved all of their goals. If you are going to tank, at least have a plan. Troy Weaver definitely does and has executed it flawlessly in his first season.
Detroit never had to resort to embarrassing losing streaks or playing guys who weren’t trying, but just tanked naturally with a goal in mind. It didn’t destroy morale or develop bad habits in the young guys, so this season has to be considered a success.