Mired in mediocrity. That pretty much sums up the current existence of being a Piston fan (a Lion, Tiger, and Red Wing fan too but I digress). Once the excitment of the respective offseason dies down,I’ll wax poetically about how terrible it is to be stuck in that hopeless middle. Too bad to be a contender and too good to get a reasonable shot at acquiring the next wave of superstars. Even within medicority, there is a solid debate between being on the “lower dregs of the playoffs” side of mediocrity, or the “low lottery” side. Adam Silver’s lottery changes have made the latter more palatable, but a team like the Pistons still were in a situation where the choice was debatable but probably immaterial. This is a franchise starved of the playoffs (1 appearance in the last 9 seasons) and a downtown area that could use both the image and economic boost of a weekend of playoff games. Conversely, the fact that it would JUST be that weekend of games, as the Pistons would assuredly be swept for the third consecutive time, by yet another divisional foe (first two at the hands of LeBron James, now at the hands of Giannis) was quite obvious. And while they would have just a 1% chance at the top pick and somewhere between 1-5 % chance of getting a Top 4 pick, a team picking just a slot ahead of where the Pistons would have fallen did the latter, with similar odds. (It must be noted though, that team is the Lakers who have had such an “interesting” run of lottery luck the last 4-5 years, that comparing the Pistons eschewed chances to theirs would be naive at best and disingenous at worst.)
So here the Pistons sit. One spot out of the lottery. The worst of the 16 playoff teams. The Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks have given hope to teams that they do not have to build with high lottery selections, or be major FA destinations. These are false hopes though, as the ignored strength of these teams is embedded in the type of leadership they have in their Front Offices. The Raptors had Bryand Colangelo for 7 seasons, and then replaced him with a star up and coming executive from the Denver Nuggets, named Masai Ujiri. Colangelo’s role should not be ignored as he aquired Lowry as well as the principle pieces used to acquire both Marc Gasol (Jonas Valuncianas) and Kawhi Leonard + Danny Green (Demar DeRozan). Masai actually executed those moves, the latter of which took serious cojones, and through shrewd drafting in the mid-late first round, second round, and UDFA, built the rest of that roster up. Between the two, the Raptors have had over a decade of above average to elite front office work. The same (to a lesser extent) can be same for the Bucks as they furthered the bueprint built by John Hammond (a former Pistons front office guy, from the good days lol) and with an up and coming young front office guy like Jon Hurst, they have built a formidable roster as well. Most teams in the NBA don’t have this. They have guys who are in charge due to paying dues as opposed to having real analytical or scouting or negotiating or team constructing talent. The Pistons have Ed. Ed is not as bad as some other GMs out there …. But his track record is far from awe-inspiring. However, if you would like some young talent in your front office Ed, you can reach me here ! lol
Anywho, the Pistons sit here on the eve of the Draft and are poised to make a selection, that actually may be significant in the future of this roster. In all honesty, the Pistons only have 2 players on their current roster who they should be viewing as a future piece for a championship team: Luke Kennard, and Bruce Brown. Blake only has 2-3 more years of usefulness as a major piece, and Andre’s impact , while underrated, does not match his 28 million dollar salary. Said salary is only going to increase in either the summer of 2020 or 2021 when he is eligible for a 5 year deal worth north of 220 million dollars. No one else on the roster should really even be considered past the next season, and if the Pistons are smart, they should be considering a future without Andre. However …. these are Ed’s Pistons. Maybe he was saying that to mean just for 2019 …. I have my doubts though.