The Detroit Pistons have the second-worst record in the league and aside from youth, inexperience and injuries, there is an obvious reason why.
Detroit’s defense has been abysmal, and for the second year in a row, they are going to break the franchise record for worst defense.
This team is a far cry from the Pistons of old, whose success was largely based around some of the best team defenses the league has ever seen. But you can’t have a good team defense without good individual defenders, it’s not just all about scheme and coaching, though they could use improvements in those areas as well.
The Pistons routinely get torched on the perimeter, and clearly need a defensive upgrade on the wing, as it hasn’t just been one or two guys.
In fact, several of their players are at or near the top of the league in defensive futility however you want to measure it.
Detroit Pistons’ defensive ratings
Most of the ire has been aimed at the Pistons’ forwards, as they don’t really have a wing who can get a stop.
There are no perfect metrics for individual defense, as it is hard to separate what one player does from the overall defensive level of the team. Individual defensive rating is definitely not an ideal measurement, but it does give you an idea of just how bad the Pistons are as individuals and as a team overall.
Bojan Bogdanovic has the worst defensive rating among forwards with the requisite minutes, with a rating of 122.3, which is not only the worst for forwards, but for any starter in the NBA. Saddiq Bey isn’t far behind, as he has the third-worst rating for forwards at 120.
The Detroit Pistons also have two guards near the top of the rankings, a Jaden Ivey’s 120.6 defensive rating is the 3rd-worst among guards and Killian Hayes’ 118.6 comes in at 7th-worst among guards in the NBA.
None of the Pistons’ centers have the requisite minutes yet to make these lists, but to give you an idea, Isaiah Stewart is at 118.6 and Jalen Duren is 116.5, best on the team for anyone who actually plays.
On one hand it is a positive that the youngest player in the league might be the Pistons’ best overall defender, but it doesn’t reflect well on his teammates.
Even if you look at the counting stats, the Pistons are way behind, as they don’t have a single player averaging at least a block per game and just one (Killian Hayes) who averages at least one steal, though Jaden Ivey is close.
Even in this era of offensive explosion, a defensive rating of 120 is terrible, as the best players (Nic Claxton and Joel Embiid) are at 106.3 and 107.3, respectively.
At least it’s clear what the Pistons’ biggest need is, as Detroit has actually improved offensively this season even without Cade Cunningham, but they have to get some guys who can defend or it won’t really matter how good their offense is.