The Detroit Pistons in 2005-06

Posted on September 2, 2006 by

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I was born in Detroit in 1969.  In 1981 my family left Detroit for Lincoln, Nebraska.  Although I have not lived in the Motor City for 25 years, I still maintain the same team loyalties I developed as a child.  I still follow the Tigers, Lions, and Pistons (as well as the Michigan Wolverines, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and Colorado State Rams).

Consequently I am not a dispassionate observer of Detroit’s basketball team.  Still, for the purpose of this post, I will ignore my rooting interest and try and provide some objective analysis.

Objectivity is certainly easier to fake when one focuses on the numbers.  HERE is what the Pistons did in 2005-06.

In the regular season the Pistons were the best team in the NBA.  In discussing the Hawks, Celtics, and Bobcats – three teams not among the NBA’s best – I noted that productive players can reside on bad teams.  Likewise, less productive players can reside on good teams.

Four Pistons played in last years All-Star game.  If wins production is the criteria (Wins Produced is discussed briefly HERE and HERE), not all these players should have made the trip.  Before getting to who should not have gone, let’s focus on the players whose wins production suggested a trip to the All-Star game was deserved. 

The Pistons most productive player last year was Ben Wallace, who produced 20.1 wins. This mark was only surpassed by four other NBA players – Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion, and LeBron James. 

This summer two teams bid on Big Ben’s services – the Bulls and the Pistons.  The Bulls offered more money – actually, many millions more – and Ben Wallace decided to move to Chicago.  Although this move makes me unhappy, it’s understandable. 

Contrary to the rhetoric coming from the Pistons management team, losing Big Ben is going to hurt.  Although I would expect more losses next season, the Pistons do have some productive players left on the roster.

The most productive player returning is Chauncey Billups, who produced 16.3 wins last season. Among point guards, only Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, and Chris Paul were more productive in 2005-06.  Overall, Billups was the 14th most productive player in the NBA.  So his trip to the All-Star game seems deserved.

The remaining two All-Stars – Rip Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace – are not quite on the same level as Big Ben and Billups. 

Rasheed produced 6.5 wins and produced 0.112 wins per 48 minutes (WP48).  As noted, an average player has a WP48 of 0.100, so Rasheed was above average.   Looking at shooting efficiency, Rasheed was an above average scorer.  He also avoids turnovers.  Unfortunately, his productivity suffers because he is below average in rebounding. And no, his lack of rebounding was not likely a result of playing with a prolific rebounder like Big Ben.  Rasheed has been below average on the boards for his entire career.  

Like Rasheed, Rip Hamilton was also an above average scorer.  But Rip was below average, for his position, in rebounding and steals.  In essence, Hamilton can score but he does nothing else particularly well.  The net result is a player who only produced 3.6 wins and had a WP48 of 0.060. 

The last member of Detroit’s starting line-up was Tayshaun Prince.  Many thought he deserved to go to the All-Star game as well.  Prince also avoids turnovers.  But he is only average in shooting efficiency and below average in rebounds, blocked shots, assists, and steals.  Again, like Hamilton, there is much that Prince does not do on the court.  Consequently, he only produced 4.4 wins and had a WP48 of 0.073.

The primary player off the bench for the Pistons was Antonio McDyess, who used to be an All-Star.  McDyess was once a very good player for Phoenix and Denver.  For four seasons, beginning in 1997-98, McDyess produced 35 wins and had a WP48 of 0.176.  In 2001, though, he was injured and since then has not been the same player.  Still, he is at least average on a per-minute basis and did produce 3.6 wins off the bench.

All in all, the cupboard is not bare in Detroit.  But looking to 2006-07 the Pistons need to replace the productivity of Ben Wallace.  Towards this goal, the Pistons have brought in Nazr Mohammed, who last year had a WP48 of 0.148.  Mohammed is not exactly Ben Wallace, who he replaces in the starting line-up, and one should expect to see evidence of this in the standings. 

The other major move was to bring in Ronald “Flip” Murray.  In Murray’s career, though, he has never been very productive.  So it is not likely that Flip will change Detroit’s fortunes in 2006-07.

If we focus on how productive these players were in the past it is hard to see how the Pistons will be as good next season as they were in 2006-07.  Hopefully, though, I am wrong.  Maybe the Pistons young big men – Jason Maxiel and Amir Johnson – will develop into productive players.  Maybe Antonio McDyess will return to the player we saw before the injury.   Maybe….. well, we can go on like this forever.

As fans we can always hope.  Well, unless we are fans of the Lions.  Lions fans are already looking forward to the draft next April.  It does look like the Tigers will be providing us excitement into October.  Once baseball is over, though, all we can do is hope the Pistons discover something to replace the production that left with Big Ben.  If not, it could be a very long winter indeed for fans of Detroit. 

– DJ

Yes, I know I said I would go in alphabetical order, so after Cleveland one might have expected Dallas.  Although I am not sure I still remember the entire alphabet, this is the not the reason the analysis of the Pistons came after the Cavaliers.  Rather, Detroit comes after Cleveland because I have decided to go in alphabetical order in terms of conference as well.  So first I will analyze all the teams in the Eastern Conference, then I will examine the Western Conference.  Consequently fans of the Washington Wizards should be a bit happier.

Teams Analyzed Thus Far

Atlanta Hawks

Boston Celtics

Charlotte Bobcats

Chicago Bulls 

Cleveland Cavaliers