The Detroit Pistons have lost six of their last seven games and all but one loss came by double figures.
This losing streak comes off a time when the Pistons had won four of five games, including a victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The poor play comes at an extremely inconvenient time for the Pistons, as they have now slipped to 10th place in the Eastern Conference with nine games remaining in the season, which is two spots out of the playoffs.
Not long ago, the Pistons had a strong hold on an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Now, they are five games below .500, with the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls passing them on the way.
Top to bottom, the Pistons have a far better roster than either the Heat or the Bulls.
What makes matters worse is the Pistons have lost their last three games to far inferior teams, especially the Orlando Magic, who are second to last in the Eastern Conference and the Brooklyn Nets, who have the worst record in the NBA. With the Pistons loss to the Nets on Tuesday, they are now 0-3 on the season versus the league’s worst.
Everything has gone downhill quickly for the Pistons.
The glaring problem in the Pistons losses to the Magic and Nets is the lack of ball movement. In both contest, the team leader in assists had just four.
This is stemming from the bigger issue of not having a true distributor on their roster. Many teams have found success in playing score first point guards like Reggie Jackson. The Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors both have score first point guards, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry, and those are the two consensus best teams in the NBA.
For the Warriors, their distributor is Draymond Green, who acts as a point-forward. Often times, instead of having Curry take the ball up the floor, they will have Green take it up and run the offense through him. Curry averages 6.4 assist per game and Green averages 7.2 dimes per contest.
The Cavaliers run a very similar system with LeBron James. Kyrie Irving, who is listed as the team’s point guard, averages 5.8 assists per game, while James, the starting small forward, averages 8.8 assist per game.
While neither of these clubs have point guards who are great passers, both teams have great passers on their roster, they are just playing the forward positions.
The Pistons on the other hand have no such playmakers. The team’s leader in assist is Reggie Jackson with 5.2 per game. The next closest starter is KCP, who is averaging 2.7 assist per game. As a team, the Pistons rank 25th in the NBA in assist per game.
The play of the Pistons starting five has also been a real point of disappointment as of late. In their game on Friday against the Magic, the starters had abysmal plus-minus ratings. They went as follows: Ish Smith -13, KCP -25, Marcus Morris -16, Tobias Harris -21 and Andre Drummond -23.
This goes to show the Pistons first unit does not know how to play together.
The Pistons will surely be frustrated after their most recent losing streak against some of the NBA’s worst teams. Now, the Pistons should do either one of two things. They should either try to get things going again and make a push for the playoffs, or they should throw in the towel and try to get a higher draft choice in this summer’s NBA draft. A draft which is supposed to be one of the best in years.
The worst thing the Pistons can do is get stuck in no man’s land. Finishing just outside of the playoffs and having one of the worst picks in the lottery would be the worst of both worlds. The Pistons should make a strong commitment either way and stick to it. Otherwise, they will walk away without a stronger pick in the draft and no playoffs.
The Pistons next game is Monday when they will face the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. The Pistons are 2-1 on the season against the Knicks and will look to end their losing streak as well as finish the season with a winning record against the team from the Big Apple.