The Detroit Pistons have been a bad team for every month of this interminable, mostly miserable season. However, when the team decided to shut down veterans like Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, the losing really went into overdrive.
The Pistons have precisely one win in its past 19 games. For those who want to reminisce about the good old days, that was the second of consecutive games against the Indiana Pacers and saw Detroit win by 20 in front of an energetic Little Caesars Arena crowd.
Neither Jaden Ivey nor Bennedict Mathurin suited up for that game, and the teams were led by 22 points from Cory Joseph and 20 points from Jordan Nwora, respectively, with both players coming off the bench for their respective teams. It was that kind of game.
Back in the miserable present, however, the Pistons are faced with making the wrong kind of history. Detroit has already tied the franchise’s futility mark for any 19-game stretch with its woeful .053 winning percentage, a mark set both in Cade Cunningham’s rookie season from November through December, and in 1993-94 from December through January.
The Pistons’ last, best hope to get a win will be their next game, which is a Friday road contest against the Houston Rockets. If they lose that game, the Pistons will stand with that 1993-94 squad as representing the most futile stretch in Detroit Pistons basketball history. That team’s futility stretched to one win in the span of 21 games.
Thirty years ago, that Pistons team represented the official end of the Bad Boys era, though everyone knew the moniker no longer fit the squad. That team finished the year 20-62 with a -8.2 net rating. It was also the final season featuring 80s icons Bill Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas. Both retired after the season with plenty of wear and tear on their bodies and injuries mounting. Thomas was just 32 years old.
That year also preceded what was pegged as a historic NBA Draft class. The top five were Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill, Donyell Marshall and Juwan Howard. Collectively, those five players played 82 years in the league. Despite picking third, the Pistons selected co-Rookie of the Year Grant Hill.
We shall see what the lottery gods bestow on Detroit this go-round. The Pistons are already guaranteed one of the three worst records in the NBA. They have a one-game advantage in the loss column over the Rockets and a three-game edge over the Spurs.
Should the Pistons lose to the Rockets, there is a very real possibility that Detroit is in danger of having the worst season in franchise history along with the 16-win 1979-80 team. The Pistons have 16 wins in the bank, but just six more games to eclipse that franchise low-point.
After the Rockets, the Pistons play a road contest against the Orlando Magic and then at home against a Miami Heat team looking to jump into the top 6 and a guaranteed playoff spot. From there, they host a home finale against the Brooklyn Nets, who are looking to keep that Heat team at bay and stay in the sixth spot themselves. The season ends with two road contests against perhaps disinterested teams in Indiana and Chicago.
Any one of those games could turn into a much-needed win. Or they could continue the sad script of this entire season and drop all of them, sending this team into the history books nobody wants to revisit.