The final installment of our asking ChatGPT to rank Detroit Pistons’ position players all-time finishes with centers. In a list that is top heavy, and accurate in my opinion, there are some question marks on the back end. The last name on the automated tool’s list might even be a mistake. Let’s jump into the top centers to have ever suited up for Detroit, according to ChatGPT.
This week, we asked ChatGPT to rank the top five centers in Detroit Pistons’ history. This is what it came up with.
"“The Detroit Pistons have had several exceptional centers in their history. Here are five of the top centers who have made significant contributions to the Pistons:1. Ben Wallace – Ben Wallace is widely considered one of the greatest centers in Pistons history. He anchored the team’s defense during their successful years, earning four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards. Wallace’s shot-blocking, rebounding, and defensive intensity were instrumental in the Pistons’ championship run in 2004.2. Bill Laimbeer – Bill Laimbeer was a key figure in the Pistons’ “Bad Boys” era in the late 1980s. As a rugged and skilled center, Laimbeer provided toughness, floor spacing, and rebounding for the team. He played an important role in the Pistons’ back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990.3. Bob Lanier – Bob Lanier was a dominant force at center during his time with the Pistons in the 1970s. He was a highly skilled big man, known for his scoring ability, rebounding, and shot-blocking. Lanier earned multiple All-Star selections and left a lasting impact on the franchise.4. Mehmet Okur – Mehmet Okur had a productive stint with the Pistons in the early 2000s. Although he played as a power forward as well, Okur’s versatility and shooting touch made him a valuable asset in the frontcourt. He played a crucial role in the Pistons’ trip to the NBA Finals in 2005.5. Zelmo Beaty – Zelmo Beaty played for the Pistons during the 1960s and was a skilled center with an excellent scoring touch. He was an All-Star and provided consistent production during his time with the team.”"
ChatGPT’s list of top centers in Detroit Pistons’ history is probably the most surprising of all their lists in the series thus far. The top three are well-known names, with number one being quite possibly the most famous Piston in the last 20 years. The last two, however, are definitely lesser known to the casual fan.
Ben Wallace is definitely deserving of the best center in Detroit history. Out of Virginia Union University, Wallace broke the mold both by being from a lesser-known university, but also being undersized and utilizing his athletic ability. He was feared by opposing offenses, and rightfully so. Bill Laimbeer and Bob Lanier both played integral roles in Detroit history as well. Laimbeer embodied the late ‘80’s Bad Boys and arguably began the Detroit tough attitude that continues today. Lanier, a decade before Laimbeer, was one of Detroit’s first superstar centers. Fighting through injuries to begin his career, he teamed up with Dave Bing to lead Detroit year after year. Even though his career was marred by injury leading up to his trade to Milwaukee, he was still named to 7 all-star teams while here.
The final two names, Mehmet Okur and Zelmo Beaty were surprising to me. Okur was more of a power forward with his ability to space the floor. Retiring with a career 37 percent clip from deep, the 6-foot-11 center forward would have fit well in today’s NBA. What makes this selection surprising is that his time in Detroit was just two seasons. Drafted in 2001, Okur helped the Detroit Pistons win a Championship in 2004, but then was a salary cap victim and signed a deal with the Utah Jazz. Only playing in Detroit for two seasons, and primarily playing a different position, but still being selected as a top-five center in Pistons’ history is equally impressive as it is confusing.
ChatGPT might have made a mistake for its final player. Zelmo Beaty, while a hall-of-fame player back in the ‘70’s, did not ever suit up for Detroit. All my research indicates that Beaty was involved in both the NBA and the ABA, and was subject to controversy as he was traded while committed to the other league, barring him from playing. At no point in my research, however, did I find Beaty to have played for the Detroit Pistons. Looks like the AI tool isn’t perfect yet…