Houston Rockets show what could have been for the Detroit Pistons

Houston Rockets v Detroit Pistons
Houston Rockets v Detroit Pistons / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

Both the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets stunk last season, winning 17 and 22 games, respectively.

But that wasn't all they had in common: Both teams were building through young talent they acquired in the draft, and both had cap space to spend in the offseason, which is where their paths diverged.

The Rockets chose to use their cap space to add quality veteran players in Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks, while the Pistons, errr, ummm, went a different route.

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The Pistons doubled down on "internal growth," added another top-five pick in Ausar Thompson and traded for the corpse of Joe Harris and Monte Morris then called it a day.

Detroit then spent all offseason talking about chasing the play-in tournament and being competitive all season, notions that lasted all of two weeks before reality set in.

Meanwhile, the Rockets are doing exactly that and are showing the value of actually trying to win games.

The Houston Rockets are where the Detroit Pistons should be

The Rockets recently won their 7th game in a row and are now just 2.5 games behind the Warriors for the final play-in spot. They aren't great, but they've already won 34 games this season (nearly three times the Pistons' total) and they are playing meaningful games in March, something Detroit hasn't done in a LONG time.

They may come up short, but at least their young players are learning how to win games and how to deal with the pressure of a late playoff push. Their fans are having fun watching their team play competitive games while also developing their young players, who are all getting plenty of minutes.

The Rockets' payroll isn't bloated and FVV's contract will end right around the time all of their young guys are getting raises. Brooks' deal gets lower each year, so he'll be somewhat of a bargain.

So they are developing their young players while *gasp* trying to win games, while the Pistons are riding out the end of their miserable season with G-Leaguers and replacement players in the rotation, their big veteran offseason additions long since traded or cut.

I'm not saying the Pistons could have or should have signed VanVleet and Brooks but they certainly could have done better than spending $20 million on Joe freaking Harris and obviously put way too much stock in internal development because they haven't gotten much of that either.

Instead, their young players are just learning how to lose games, playing with guys who won't even be on the team next season (or in the league at all) and picking up bad habits while fans wonder if we'll ever see another playoff game in Detroit.

Building through youth is great and all, but at some point, you have to try and put a coherent roster on the floor so these guys can learn how to win games, otherwise, it's just a perpetual cycle of losing and hope.