Potential big game becomes punishment for the Detroit Pistons

Memphis Grizzlies v Detroit Pistons
Memphis Grizzlies v Detroit Pistons / Nic Antaya/GettyImages

The Detroit Pistons will end the 2023-24 season on the road against the San Antonio Spurs.

Before the season started, this was one of the games I had circled on the schedule, mostly to see Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4 phenom who has lived up to the immense hype.

But it was bittersweet, as the Pistons endured the worst record in the league last season hoping to get Wembanyama themselves only to drop to the 5th pick.

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We also hoped that this game might have meaning, as the Pistons were dreaming of a play-in appearance and some believed Wembanyama alone would be enough to propel the Spurs into play-in contention.

Instead, the two teams are at the bottom of their respective conferences, making the season finale a meaningless game that is particularly cruel for the Pistons.

The Detroit Pistons vs. San Antonio Spurs

Not only will the Pistons have likely sealed the worst record in team history, but they'll likely have to endure another drubbing at the hands of the prospect they missed out on, as the Spurs already blew the Pistons out once behind a Wembanyama triple-double this season.

Both teams are bad, but the Spurs have their guy. Wembanyama is already one of the best defenders in the NBA, leading the league in blocks per game by a wide margin. He's put up mind-boggling triple-doubles this season and is averaging over 20/10 as a rookie with 3.6 blocks and 1.2 steals per game. He's going to be an MVP candidate soon, so Spurs fans couldn't care less that the team is 20-59. They have Wemby.

We may not even get a battle of former #1 picks, as Cade Cunningham has missed the last four games and counting and may not play. He missed the first matchup of the two teams as well. I would have bet against Victor Wembanyama playing more games than Cunningham in his rookie season, but Wemby has already played 70 and Cade would have to play all three of the remaining games just to get to 65.

I was looking forward to this game, but now I just look at the schedule and sigh over what could have been and what isn't.

Detroit Pistons' draft odds

It's safe to say that Spurs fans are feeling better about their team, especially considering they have cap space, draft assets and moveable contracts to significantly upgrade their roster this offseason.

The Pistons have cap space but don't have the extra draft picks to throw around.

Both teams have similar odds for the #1 pick currently, as the Pistons would have a 14 percent shot with 12.5 percent for the Spurs. Given the way the last few seasons have gone for Detroit, I fully expect a 50-point triple-double from Wembanyama while Cade Cunningham watches from the bench and then the Spurs to get the #1 pick in the draft while the Pistons drop to 5th, though it won't matter nearly as much in this one.

Even if the worst-case scenario doesn't unfold, it's a bitter way to end the season for fans of the Pistons, as a game that should have been a celebration of young teams on the rise has turned into punishment.