Pistons news: The NBA has left Detroit behind

Dec 8, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic guard Caleb Houstan (2) shoots the ball against
Dec 8, 2023; Orlando, Florida, USA; Orlando Magic guard Caleb Houstan (2) shoots the ball against / Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2020-21 season, the Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with the Pistons winning 23 games and the Magic winning 22 overall.

The Rockets and Thunder held down the bottom of the Western Conference, but things have changed in two seasons. The Thunder and Magic are near the top of their respective conferences this season. The Rockets have made progress, have a winning record and are currently the 8th seed in the West.

The Detroit Pistons are worse.

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The leap that fans were hoping for this season happened, but it went in the wrong direction, as the Pistons are actually worse than the team that won 17 games last season with its best player on the sideline. They brought all the key players back from last season, added Cade Cunningham, a top-5 pick in the draft and spent $30 million in cap space and somehow got worse. It's almost a miracle. Seriously, if you were trying to do that it wouldn't be easy.

What became even clearer last night was that the other rebuilding teams, and in fact the entire league, have left the Detroit Pistons in the dust.

The Detroit Pistons roster makes no sense

Last night's humiliation, the 19th straight loss, illustrated just how far away the Pistons are from being a competitive team. This wasn't some experienced, perennial contender that eviscerated Detroit last night, it was Orlando, a team with a very young roster just like the Pistons.

Detroit has the 2nd-youngest team in the league, Orlando the 4th, with only a few months difference in average age, but a world of difference in talent.

The Pistons' roster is lousy with one-dimensional players who might be able to defend but airball every shot, who might be able to shoot, but can't keep a single player in front of them at the other end.

It makes it almost impossible to put a coherent five-man lineup on the floor, which is one of the reasons Monty Williams has used so many of them. The Pistons' most-played 5-man lineup has played just 100 minutes together this season, more than three times less than Houston's most common five-man group.

The Pistons look like a bunch of strangers on the floor, there is no chemistry and players have no defined roles. None of them seem to know what they are supposed to be doing. Is Jaden Ivey the lead ballhandler when Cade is out? Sometimes. Other times he stands in the corner.

Should Ausar Thompson be attacking or shooting corner 3's? He doesn't seem to know. Is Cade on or off the ball with Kilian in the game? Does Isaiah Stewart have the green light from 3-point range or does Monty want him to attack closeouts? Who is the 3-point shooter on this team? Who is the glue guy? Who is the leader?

Aside from poorly defined roles, the Pistons just don't have a modern NBA roster. They have no two-way wings, no long forwards who can defend or shoot 3's, no rim protection, no 3-point shooting, no skilled big men.

Watching Orlando's bigs shooting 3's, making passes and blowing by the Pistons off the dribble really drove home how unskilled the Pistons' bigs are. Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley III fumble so many passes under the hoop it looks like they are playing with a greased pig. It's a wonder the guards even try to throw them the ball.

Neither of them are a real threat from outside of five feet (I don't care about Stewart's 36 percent 3-point shooting when he only takes three a game as he did last night). MBIII had four turnovers, at least two of which should have been dunks but he brought the ball down and fumbled it.

This is not a modern NBA roster, it's that simple. While the rest of the league has gotten bigger, faster, more skilled with better long-range shooting, the Pistons have reverted to a bad team from the 1990's, using two bigs who can't spread the floor and have limited offensive skill outside of the paint.

While the rest of the league is hoarding long, two-way wings who can shoot, the Pistons have none and instead are running out Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Harris, two players who honestly might not be able to guard me. Harris came into the game last night and was immediately blown by for a layup.

Last night drove home just how far away the Pistons are from being good, as they aren't even competitive against another young team that is supposed to be comparable in talent and success.

One or two players aren't going to save this, it's systemic, it's roster-wide. The Detroit Pistons do not have the personnel to compete in the modern NBA and it is glaringly obvious.

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