It's been tough being a fan of the Detroit Pistons this season.
Not only is the team in a death spiral as they forge a historic losing streak, but we've had to watch other recently rebuilding teams thrive around their young stars. The Timberwolves and Thunder are on top of the Western Conference. The Magic and Pacers are 3rd and 6th in the Eastern Conference, respectively, and even the Rockets, the team that was closest to the Pistons entering last offseason, are 9-9 and would be in the play-in tournament if it started today.
Of the six worst teams from the 2020-21 season, only the Pistons have failed to progress.
The worst part might be watching Killian Hayes round into a solid rotation player while Tyrese Haliburton rounds into an MVP candidate who has led his team to the finals of the In-Season Tournament. I have to admit, I'm a bit jealous of the Pacers, who are treating their fans to exciting, winning basketball.
As a division rival, Haliburton and the Pacers are going to be a problem for the Detroit Pistons both on and off the court.
The Pacers and Pistons competing for players
Detroit isn't a hot free-agent destination and neither was Indiana until recently. Now they have an unselfish superstar who is fun to play with and makes everyone around him better.
The Pacers also have cap space and extra draft picks (something the Pistons don't have) so could be a big player on the free-agent market as well as in trades. Great!
Not only will the Pistons be competing with the usual suspects on the coasts, they now have another midwestern division rival that looks like one of the most appealing destinations in the league for players who want to play a fun brand of basketball with an unselfish superstar.
A recent report from Adrian Wojnarowski suggested that Haliburton plans to recruit and that the Pacers have already inquired about players such as OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, two potential targets for the Pistons.
Haliburton wants to do for Indiana what Giannis has done for Milwaukee, which is make them a consistent winner and destination even though they aren't in a glamour city. The worst part is that the Pistons get to play both of them four times a year.
Indiana should be a model for the Detroit, who also have an unselfish young point guard to build around, but the Pacers' roster complements Haliburton's skills while the Pistons' is still very much a work in progress around Cade Cunningham.
While the Pacers should give the Pistons hope that things can turn around, they've also become huge competition for future free agents and possible trades, pushing Detroit further down the list of attractive teams, if they weren't already at the bottom.