The Detroit Pistons are dangerously toeing the line of NBA purgatory

Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Blake Griffin (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Despite possessing three All-Star talents, the Detroit Pistons are 7-13 in December and sit 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons are performing at a below-average level in a weak Eastern Conference, why are they not a better team? 

A playoff appearance last season may have masked a literal average season (41-41 record) from the Detroit Pistons, but there is no hiding from it this season. The Pistons started the season without All-Star forward Blake Griffin, who was out with an injury, while Andre Drummond raced off to a fast start averaging 22.1 points and 18.1 rebounds in his first seven games.

Even the return of Blake Griffin against the Minnesota Timberwolves couldn’t stop the Pistons from another loss.

Inconsistency has been the biggest issue for the Pistons this season. They are yet to win two consecutive games and four of their seven wins have been against teams with under .500 records.

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Griffin is yet to find his best form after his injury, averaging career lows in points (18.5) and rebounds (4.8) whilst averaging his least amount of assists in a season (3.6) since his second year in the NBA.

Surprisingly, the Pistons have the 7th highest payroll in Basketball; a surprise because how you would usually associate high amounts of money with success, but not with the Pistons. While the Pistons may be going through early-season blues, the first half of the schedule was regarded as the “easy part” of the schedule.

They face the likes of the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets in their next 10 games.

The Pistons traded for Blake Griffin last year to add a franchise level talent to a team that already had en emerging center like Andre Drummond. Griffin had a career-year last season and after the Pistons second consecutive loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets on Friday, Griffin called out his teammates.

"“I think it’s really light in here after a win,” Griffin told reporters after the second loss to Charlotte. “To me, it seems like we love the victory but we don’t like the fight. You’re not going to win games like that.”"

Griffin’s comments certainly resonate with some of the close games the Pistons have lost. The team has lost eight games this season by seven or fewer points.

The Pistons rank in the bottom half of the league in defensive rating and allow one of the highest 3-point percentages in the NBA. The defensive intensity that is needed in this league doesn’t seem to be ingrained in this Detroit Pistons team.

Pistons coach Dwane Casey doubled down on his power forward’s comments.

"“It’s a good statement because it’s true,” Casey said. “It’s true with every team. It’s easy to shoot the 3 and make the ooh-ah plays. But you have to do the little things, to get the proper angle on screens, to make the proper pass out of the post, move the basketball.”"

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The team then responded in the best way a basketball can do; win. They blew out the San Antonio Spurs 132-98 and next face the Cleveland Cavaliers for a glorious chance to win two consecutive games for the first time this season.