What. A. Trainwreck.
That the Pistons managed to stave off elimination until Friday night when the Pacers win finally put them in the ground is a strange fact in and of itself. You’re tempted to give them a modicum of credit for being in the picture this long. But to do so would be to ignore their salary, their play, and the disastrous off-court shenanigans bandied about like a soap opera. The Pistons didn’t slump to the finish. They were dragged there by the momentum of their own faceplant at full-speed.
It began as one of those seasons where you want to believe. After all, the lottery squad the year before was formed in the face of so many injuries, you had to believe there was no way they would repeat that performance. But alas, though the injuries were better, the results were not. On top of Charlie Villanueva continuing to embody the worst parts of his game and very little of the good, Ben Gordon posted career lows in points, assists, and steals. And the bottoming out was not due to the logjam at guard for the Pistons. His per-36 numbers were equally bad. It’s mind-boggling but true, Gordon is 27, and should be entering his prime. But for whatever reason, it’s not working.
That “whatever the reason” could very well be the coach. If you ask most of the veterans on the Pistons, they’d probably say the same. Rip Hamilton was at the head of what was termed a “player’s mutiny” by the media in a mass sleep-in as Hamilton could neither get time on the floor nor a buy-out he’d agree to (versus a buyout, or even a reasonable one, both of which were available). The veterans did little to hide their disdain for head coach John Kuester in front of reporters or behind the curtain. Kuester’s continued employment remains perplexing to the degree it’s largely attributed to the drawn-out sale process that has dragged through three of the four annual seasons with no end in sight.
But through all of these disasters, there were some bright spots. Particularly Austin Daye and Greg Monroe. Daye showed an efficient combination of wing abilities and Monroe showed everything you want to see out of a young center. Touch, tenacity, improvement, and rebounds. Rodney Stuckey remains a polarizing figure they’ll have to unwind, but maybe under new leadership, he can get back on track. (“Back on track” is an interesting phrase since he led the team in points, assists, and PER. Things are complicated on this team, have we mentioned that?”)
This season has been a forgettable one for the Pistons, but unlikely a lot of teams, there’s some hope there. Perhaps a true youth movement is in order, once ownership is worked out. But for this year, stick a fork in them. They’re done.
Oh, and Chris Wilcox played pretty well, surprisingly.