Originally published on 5/9/17
Only 13 cities in North America have a team in all four major professional sports, 14 if you want to include Toronto who has the CFL Argonauts but no NFL team. At some point in each city (Save Boston who’s Patriots have ruled the NFL for 15 years) the debate rages as to which of its teams are closest the next championship.
Now that the NFL is done until October, The NBA and NHL are in the doldrums of the playoffs, and it’s too cold to enjoy Major League Baseball, let’s look at our teams and discuss what we’ve got going on and how long it may be again until we have a parade down Woodward.
Based on my fact based analysis, yet completely biased sense of logic, here are the Detroit teams ranked in order of their chances of winning the next title.
4. Detroit Pistons (37-45 in 2017 44-38 in 2016)- The sure bet
Why they could win: When it comes to winning in the association, it’s all about finding a superstar. The “hot take” about our inability to attract any superstars often centers around Detroit not being a “Free Agent Destination.” I’m sorry, how could I be so blind to not recognize all the fun things to do in and around Cleveland? The bustling Riverwalk of San Antonio has been attracting free agents for 20 years now right? If this over-simplification were true, there would be dynasties in Miami (Nope), Atlanta (definitely not), Los Angeles (double no), and New York (HAHA- no!).
If you believe in Stan, and I kind of do, he’s made the finals twice, won it once, with essentially the same type of team. A defense-first big man who patrols the paint who is surrounded by shooters to spread the floor and score. We have that framework on the hardwood, but the pieces don’t seem to fit. We’ve got a big man in Drummond and shooters around him, but whether it’s a lack of leadership on the floor or chemistry it just hasn’t gelled yet.
Why they won’t: Two words, LeBron James. Just like Michael Jordan before him who prevented scores of Hall of Fame NBA players from ever winning a championship, LeBron has become an absolute wall in the East. He’s been to the NBA finals a record 7-straight years with no sign of stopping anytime soon. The Pistons will likely be forced to let Kentavius Caldwell–Pope leave in free agency and are locked with almost no money to use in free agency.
My Prognosis: I don’t see much hope emanating from their side of the Pizza Pizza-rena anytime soon. Stan has to gut this team and likely unload Drummond and Reggie Jackson for not only cap space but to fully start this rebuild. A center who can’t be on the floor when the game matters and a point guard who has maturity issues are both keeping this team down.
My exception—If we tank, I mean really tank, and “trust the process” like they did in Philadelphia for a few years, we could be back on the upswing by 2020. But if we continue to rebuild on the fly, our ceiling will be the 6th or 7th seed in the east with early round exits a la the teal days of the mid-90s.