Reason 22: Pistons Looking for a Playoff Spot
Remember back in the early 2000′s, when the Detroit Pistons were the perennial favorite to win the Eastern Conference and contend for a championship? Yea neither do I. After the 2008 season, the Pistons fell off the face of the earth, and became a laughing stock of the Eastern Conference. It even came to some members of the team sitting out of games on “strike” because they did not like what now ex coach, Jon Kuester’s, game plans were.
But forget about those bad times; let’s discuss what happened before the bad. This historic franchise, which started in Detroit in 1957, has seen some great individuals and teams. The “Bad Boys” era captured the franchise’s first NBA championship in 1989, after avenging losses to the Celtics and then the Lakers from the previous year. The second title would be won in 1990.
After 10 years of decline, the start of the new century had the Pistons back to winning caliber basketball. When Joe Dumars came back to lead the front office in late 2000, major changes happened. The face of the Pistons, Grant Hill, was traded to Orlando, and rebound machine Ben Wallace was brought in. Fan favorite Rick Carlisle took over as coach in ’01, and in ’02 the roster was greatly revamped. Chauncey “Mr. Big Shot” Billups was signed, “Rip” Hamilton was also inked to a deal, and Tayshaun Prince was drafted out of Kentucky. These new additions would contribute right away, sending the Pistons to six straight Eastern Conference Finals and a 2003 NBA championship.
Then in 2008, the wheels fell off. The leader of the squad, Billups was traded to Denver for the once hot but then cold Allen Iverson. A season earlier they lost Ben Wallace, and a season later they lost Rasheed Wallace. The great Pistons franchise was now a bunch of average Joes.
But now, 2011-12 is the start of the treck back to prominence. Lawrence Frank, who once led the New Jersey Nets to an NBA Finals championship, takes over as head coach. Three college studs were drafted in the ’11 draft – Brandon Knight out of Kentucky, Duke’s Kyle Singler, and Vernon Macklin from Florida. With the addition of these youngsters, plus Rodney Stuckey, Will Bynum, and Austin Daye, to go along with veterans Ben Gordon and Prince, the new look Pistons will be contenders, and not pretenders, again.