Will the NBA change the rules to improve defense, and if they do, will the Detroit Pistons benefit?
As a lifelong fan of the Detroit Pistons, I’d love to see defense emphasized throughout the league, but I expect defense emphasized in Detroit.
Both the Bad Boys and the Goin’ to Work Pistons defined defense for their respective eras in the NBA. This “Good Guys” era will be no different.
Today, a player can’t hand-check, and players need to give jump shooters space to land, which means once a shooter is in the air, a defender can no longer close out. Fouls that would’ve been common in the eighties and early nineties are now considered flagrant and carry significant penalties.
As a consequence, offensive efficiency has steadily risen since the Pistons last appeared in the Eastern Conference Finals. During the 2022-23 season, the league scored 114.1 points per 100 professions. The last five season’s offensive ratings:
- 2018-19: 109.7
- 2019-20: 110.1
- 2020-21: 111.7
- 2021-22: 111.4
- 2022-23: 114.1
Compare that to the offensive rating throughout the Detroit/San Antonio finals series of 2005: 86.
Detroit Pistons: Swinging back to defense
It has become more and more difficult for teams to defend; however, scoring can’t continue to increase indefinitely. While continuing to privilege flow and highlights, I expect the league to “improve” the rules to make games more competitive. I don’t know what that will look like, but the rule change to stop flopping is one example. I expect the pendulum to swing back a bit, though not fully, over the next decade.
The Pistons have the youth, length, athleticism, and personnel to defend at a high level in today’s NBA. Players like Isaiah Stewart and Ausar Thompson are both active, intelligent defenders. In Monty Williams, the Pistons have a coach who will emphasize defense and continual effort.
Whatever rule changes or points of emphasis the league may make, the secret to defense in the NBA will continue to be focus, effort, and discipline.
The Pistons have high IQ players with strong work ethics and more than a little grit. They have all the tools they need to be the next best defensive team in the NBA.