Detroit Pistons: The long drought may finally be over

Saddiq Bey #41 of the Detroit Pistons reacts after he made a three-point basket at the buzzer to beat the Golden State Warriors (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Saddiq Bey #41 of the Detroit Pistons reacts after he made a three-point basket at the buzzer to beat the Golden State Warriors (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

When the Detroit Pistons drafted Ausar Thompson with the 5th pick of the 2023 NBA Draft, they hope it ended a long drought.

If you look at the Pistons’ top small forwards of all-time, most of them are guys who played long before any of the current fans were even alive. You’ll see names like Kelly Tripucka and George Yardley, the great Grant Hill, with the most recent addition to the list being Tayshaun Prince.

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Prince was one of the most valuable and underrated members of the Goin’ to Work title team and was really the last time the Detroit Pistons had an All-Star caliber wing on their roster. Prince had his last good season for Detroit in 2012-13 season and then returned two years later at the tail end of his career. Since that time it’s been a steady stream of mediocrity at what many consider the NBA’s most important position.

The Pistons are hoping that ends with Ausar Thompson, who looked fantastic in Summer League and could finally end the drought they’ve had at small forward.

Detroit Pistons’ small forwards since Tayshaun Prince

Try not to puke when you look at this list, as the Detroit Pistons have failed time and time again to find good players at the small forward position. Most of the decent guys they did have there either weren’t really small forwards (Josh Smith, Jerami Grant) or weren’t with the team very long.

Here are all the guys they’ve had since Tayshaun Prince played a meaningful game for the Detroit Pistons:

  • Kyle Singler (ugh, part of one of the Pistons’ worst drafts of all time. It’s possible the Pistons were cursed after taking Brandon Knight instead of Kawhi Leonard)
  • Corey Maggette
  • Gigi Datome (a fan favorite for some reason)
  • Caron Butler (fun but too late)
  • Reggie Bullock (possibly the best of this group. I loved Reggie as a player and person and he’s still knocking down 3-point shots, though never sniffed an All-Star appearance)
  • Stanley Johnson (Everyone is hoping Ausar doesn’t turn out to be the next athletic forward who can’t shoot. Johnson was more suited to play the four anyway)
  • Marcus Morris (the Moraii were more power forwards on the Pistons)
  • James Ennis III (remember this guy?)
  • Svi Mykhailiuk
  • Glen Robinson III
  • Louis King
  • Tony Snell (Mr. Anonymous, only guy who could play 40 minutes without scratching the scorecard)
  • Saddiq Bey (showed promise but ultimately traded away for another center so that Detroit didn’t have to pay him)
  • Tyler Cook
  • Josh Jackson (one of the many Troy Weaver failed reclamation projects)
  • Braxton Key
  • Isaiah Livers (pending)
  • Kevin Knox (puke)
  • Eugene Omoruyi (we were so desperate for a wing last season that fans started talking themselves into this guy because he played hard. Too bad he decided to take selfies with the opposition)

So that’s 11 seasons since the Pistons had an All-Star caliber small forward. As the game has shifted towards two-way wings as the most important position, this is going to have to end if Detroit ever wants to be competitive.

Spoiler alert: Ausar Thompson will end this drought.

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