Exploring three big reasons why the Detroit Pistons have been historically bad this season.
On Saturday, October 28th, the Detroit Pistons beat the Chicago Bulls 118-102 at home, making their record 2-1 on the season. With a close loss to the Miami Heat in the season opener and two consecutive victories against the Charlotte Hornets and the aforementioned Bulls, it looked like the Pistons might have what it takes to be a decent team.
Unfortunately, the train went off the rails pretty quickly as the Pistons have lost an NBA record 28 consecutive games, including a 118-112 loss vs. the Brooklyn Nets which gave them the infamous record. Now it seems that the Pistons have hit rock bottom with no clear direction to go moving forward. Let’s dive and see why the Pistons have played so poorly this season.
1. The Pistons are an incredibly weak shooting team
It’s safe to say that the Detroit Pistons are by far the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA this season. Through around thirty games, the team ranks dead last in nearly every single three-point shooting metric, including three-point attempt rate, three-point attempts per game, and three-point makes per game. They don’t rank last in three-point percentage, but they do rank 29th just ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies.
To be fair, teams don’t have to be good at shooting threes to have an efficient offense. However, if a team struggles to be effective in this area, they need to make up for it somewhere else, whether it be shooting at the rim or shooting from mid-range. Unfortunately, the Pistons shoot just 60 percent at the rim and 43 percent from mid-range. Their field goal percentage from mid-range is actually above average, but it would need to be exponentially higher for them to have an efficient offense.
The fact that the Pistons have so many non-shooters is a huge problem because they are a very young team led by Cade Cunningham who is just 23 years old and is trying to develop into an offensive engine. It’s obvious that Cunningham is extremely talented as he has averaged around 19 points, five rebounds, and six assists per game through his first three seasons. He has also had some electric performances, including a game vs. the Nets on December 26th in which he dropped 41 points, six rebounds, and nine assists while shooting 71.4 percent from the field.
Unfortunately, he has been far from perfect, struggling to develop into an efficient scorer and committing turnovers at a very high rate. He certainly deserves some blame for his issues as a player, but the Pistons’ front offense hasn’t exactly surrounded him with the best-supporting cast to help him develop into the best possible player he can be.
Considering the horrendous floor spacing he has to play with on a nightly basis, it’s not shocking that his development hasn’t been picture-perfect. Young players with huge offensive loads are going to have rough patches when they don’t have a supporting cast that can take the pressure off of them.
A lack of shooting isn’t the only thing plaguing the Pistons’ offense, though. They also have a huge issue when it comes to protecting the basketball as they have a league-worst turnover rate of 14.4 percent. They’re pretty decent when it comes to offensive rebounding and getting to the free-throw line, but they are extremely inefficient and turnover-prone. They’re also pretty average in terms of their efficiency in certain play types, like isolations and pick-and-rolls.
This is why they rank 28th in points per 100 possessions. They do some things at a decent level on this end of the floor, but it’s not enough to keep their offense from being at the bottom of the barrel.