The Pistons and the Lions: A Tale of Two Franchises

Hooper, Paws and Roary remind us where our allegiance belongs as Detroiters
Hooper, Paws and Roary remind us where our allegiance belongs as Detroiters / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages
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Recent regimes and how we got here

Sheila Hamp has been involved with if not the principal source of important decisions for the Lions since 2014, most notably beginning with the firing of Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew in 2015. Even more key to the current incarnation of the Lions was Hamp’s prompt action upon becoming the principal owner and chairwoman in 2020, when she fired Lewand and Mayhew’s successors Bob Quinn and Matt Patirica.

It’s safe to say that most fans felt they were watching the same old Lions in action when Hamp hired General Manager Brad Holmes, and subsequently, Head Coach Dan Campbell in January, 2021.

Soon after came the trade of Matthew Stafford, which brought Jared Goff and a few draft picks that would later amount to a slew of important contributors. As we examine the blueprint today it’s clear what an excellent foundation Hamp has built since taking over.

The same cannot be said for Tom Gores since he bought the Pistons in 2011. Gores has since been responsible for a drumbeat of brow-raising decisions and a chorus of poor results. The likes of Stan Van Gundy and Dwane Casey had big names and respectable resumes, but all those who have come to the city on Gore’s watch have either left with the stink of losing on them or remain mired in a swamp of ineptitude.

The most hopeful parallel that can presently be drawn between the Lions and Pistons is between the players. It’s clear that the Lions have a strong foundation, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Jamyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta are only beginning their careers, and Jared Goff is yet young for a quarterback. The Pistons have a youthful nucleus in Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Ausar Thompson that possesses solid offensive upside but is still struggling on both sides of the ball.

One thing is for sure, and that’s the Lions didn’t reach the NFC championship game overnight. It will take some time before the Pistons find themselves in the conference championship, as well. A lot hinges on Pistons General Manager Troy Weaver and Head Coach Monty Williams. If this duo doesn't figure out how to win more ballgames soon, then they - along with their players - are likely to get the same treatment that Tom Lewand and Martin Mayhew got from Sheila Hamp a few years ago.

If one wants to look into the near-future and determine whether or not the Pistons will have meaningful succes, therein lies the question: are Weaver and Williams more like Holmes and Campbell or more like Lewand and Mayhew?