Could Detroit Pistons become ‘America’s team?’ In alternate NBA, could happen.

NBA ESPN broadcasters Mark Jackson (left), Jeff Van Gundy (center) and Mike Breen. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
NBA ESPN broadcasters Mark Jackson (left), Jeff Van Gundy (center) and Mike Breen. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Unless you had access to Fox Sports Detroit or NBA League Pass, the Detroit Pistons basically did not exist last year. But if Cade Cunningham or Evan Mobley get drafted by them, you could get sick of all the national TV games the Pistons will be on.

In terms of national exposure, there is the NBA, which is composed of 30 teams of various ability; and then there is sort of an ‘alternative NBA’ that people who watch on the national TV get fed.

You know the deal, it’s the Los Angeles Lakers (LeBron) & Clippers (Kawhi), Golden State Warriors (Steph), Boston Celtics (Jayson), New Orleans Pelicans (Zion) and Dallas Mavericks (Luka).

Other ‘name’ teams may guest star as opponents, but, almost always, a game on ABC, TNT or ESPN has at least one of those teams on it.

Oh, and the size of the TV market, or even the fact a team is any good, has little to do with deciding who gets covered.

New Orleans is the No. 50 television market in the United States (Detroit is much higher at 15th) and had a losing record in both of Zion Williamson’s first two seasons.

But you still got Pelicans games crammed down your TV watching throat.

In the first-half of this past season, the Lakers had 23 of their first 37 games on national TV, that was more than half of the rest of the NBA combined.

How did the Detroit Pistons rank? Not well. A total of three games on NBA TV (January 3 vs. Celtics, January 10 vs. Jazz and March 13 vs. Nets), were their entire national TV exposure. No games on TNT, ESPN or ABC.

The reason this is being brought up now is that the NBA brass are going en fuego over the loss of the Lakers in the first round. With the Warriors already eliminated in the Play-In tournament (another great brainchild of the NBA), the two biggest draws are already out with the playoffs barely started.

No NBA finals with either LeBron James or Steph Curry? Geez, they are not even in the conference semifinals. Is that legal?

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As is pointed out in this media Tweet by Steve Berman, this is an NBA problem they created.

The NFL ratings didn’t  nosedive this season even though the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots were not in the playoffs. Baseball still does OK even if the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers are not in the World Series.

Sure, they do a bit better with them in, but the drop is not precipitous.

It is a disaster for the NBA. According to Ethan Strauss of The Athletic (WARNING PAID SUBSCRIPTION NEEDED) the ratings for Lakers games on ABC were 48.7% higher than all other games.

The possibility exists of conference finals involving Utah-Denver in the West and Atlanta-Milwaukee in the East. The general audience, will be like: Who are these people?

Oh, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver decided this was the time to ask the networks to renew their contracts with massive increases. Not good timing.

The NBA’s promotion of a privileged handful of teams backfiring badly should provoke no sympathy with Pistons fans. Heck, the league has not bothered to put Detroit in a Christmas Day game, where it features the teams they most want to promote, since 2005.

However, if things go the Pistons way on June 22, they could be the NBA’s new shiny toy.

How the Detroit Pistons can become the NBA’s favorite team

The Detroit Pistons have as good a chance of getting a high draft pick as any team in the NBA due to having the second-worst record in the league.

As every Pistons fans know, their luck in the Draft Lottery has all been one way – bad.

The law of averages says Detroit has to have a lottery break their way. Why not this year?

If Detroit strikes gold and gets the No. 1 pick, they would most likely select Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham. If they get second (reflecting their real finish), they probably go with USC center Evan Mobley.

Both have a lot of star power, and, with some of the better known players starting to see the downside of their careers, the NBA office is looking for young players to promote.

The national TV networks could now be cramming the Detroit Pistons with Cunningham (or Mobley) down the country’s throat. But the country might like this.

Despite going 20-52, as those who watched their games know, the Pistons were a very likeable and entertaining team this past season. They were feisty and scrappy and never gave up. Detroit always played hard until the end, where they inevitably lost. But maybe not anymore.

You know if the country gets exposed to the Pistons, they will love ‘Beef Stew’, the slick passing of Killian Hayes, the smooth moves of Jerami Grant and the three-point bombs of old Wayne Ellington.

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If things go well, the Detroit Pistons could become ‘America’s Team’. That would be a switch, as usually they play the role of bad boy.

And Pistons fans will have a lot more than three games on national TV to watch.