Even with Blake Griffin, Pistons continue to fall in standings

The Pistons attempted to make a statement to the rest of the NBA when they traded for superstar Blake Griffin on January 29th. So far, the team's performance has not lived up to that statement.

In 15 games with Griffin in the lineup, the team has amassed a less than stellar 6-9 record. Even more troubling is who Detroit has lost to over that stretch. A 118-115 loss to the lowly Atlanta Hawks on February 11th, a 114-96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on February 25th, and a 115-106 overtime loss to the Orlando Magic on March 2nd. Three losses to teams that are closer to competing for the worst record in the league than they are a playoff spot.

Possibly even more troubling is the fact that Griffin's numbers are pretty much down across the board since his arrival. In 33 games with the Los Angeles Clippers this season, Griffin averaged 22.6 points per game. In his 15 games with Detroit, that number is 19.2. He averaged 7.9 rebounds per game in LA this year, and is averaging 6.9 per game in Detroit. Three-point percentage is down (48.8% in LA, 45.5% in Detroit), and he isn't getting to the free throw line as often (6.6 free throws per game in LA, 4.9 in Detroit). These could all be areas that he could improve upon with time, after all, it's not easy to achieve immediate greatness in a new scheme. But, this trade was made with an eye on the immediate future.

Considering the fact that the team shipped both a first and second round draft pick to the Clippers in the trade for Griffin, it's quite clear that Detroit figured that the acquisition would be enough to vault them into a position that would allow them to become legitimate contenders. As it stands right now, the team has fallen further in the standings than they were before Griffin's arrival. With only 16 games remaining in the regular season, their 29-35 record is only good enough for ninth best in the Eastern Conference. Although there is only one spot in the standings between Detroit and the playoffs, there is also a five game difference between those two teams (the Milwaukee Bucks currently hold the eight spot with a 34-30 record). With just 16 games remaining on the schedule, it's hard to imagine such a swing occurring.

Griffin is under contract until 2021-22, and Andre Drummond is in the same situation, therefore the window for the future with these two in Detroit is open. But, considering the price tag that was paid for Griffin, and the amount of money committed to him (minimum of $32 million cap hit each of the next four seasons), the return on Detroit's investment has not been great to this point.