Why the Pistons are losing: A look at the numbers

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 18: Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons reacts against the Miami Heat during the third quarter at American Airlines Arena on January 18, 2021 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 18: Blake Griffin #23 of the Detroit Pistons reacts against the Miami Heat during the third quarter at American Airlines Arena on January 18, 2021 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) (2021 Michael Reaves)

This article first appeared in the Pistons Pivot Newsletter, a periodical newsletter for Pistons fans with breaking news, analysis and more. Sign up for it here, or by using the form below.


Welcome to the Pistons Pivot Newsletter, our newest ClickOnDetroit offering for Pistons fans!

I’m Ken. I write a bunch of newsletter here at ClickOnDetroit, but I’m an avid basketball fan. So this will be a little extra special for me.

🛡️ Missing: Defense (call Dwane Casey if you find it)

For the inaugural edition of the Pistons Pivot, we’re going to dive into the most obvious question -- why are the Pistons losing?

As it stands, the Pistons are 3-13 -- the worst record in the NBA. They have a two game lead for the best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery.

First off, there are some obvious reasons the Pistons are losing. The team basically just met a couple of months ago. The roster has been rebuilt with young, inexperienced players, mixed with veteran players who need rest days. And the team’s best scorer, Jerami Grant, has never been the workhorse on a team before.

But the numbers tell us there’s a bigger reason the Pistons are losing: The defense.

Offensively, the Pistons are not that bad. They, at least, aren’t last place bad:

  • 22nd in point per game (108.9)
  • 19th in 3-point shooting (35%)
  • 12th in offensive rebounding (10.8), 23rd in overall rebounding
  • 10th best in turnovers per game (13.3)
  • 8th in free throw attempts, and 11th in free throw shooting (77.7%)
  • 30th in field goal shooting (42.5%) -- ok, that’s bad.

So, not amazing -- but definitely not the worst, right? Let’s look at their team defensive stats (the lower the ranking, the worse):

  • 23rd in point allowed (113.6)
  • 28th in opponent field goal percentage (48.3%)
  • 25th in opponent 3-point shooting (38.4%)
  • 30th in blocks allowed (6.8 per game)
  • 29th in turnover differential (-3.0)

Just to reiterate this point -- the Pistons have a -5.8 field goal shooting differential. That the worst in the NBA by 1.3 points. Sheesh.

Make no mistake about it, though. This Pistons team plays hard. They have made some impressive comebacks. But they aren’t built to close games -- not yet.

🌟 Bright spots

I LOVE watching Pistons rookie Isaiah Stewart.

Stewart was drafted in the first round -- the last of three first round picks by Troy Weaver -- and he has been arguably the most impactful. Dude is a beast around the rim.

Stewart has worked himself into the rotation, averaging about 17 minutes per game -- and he’s making the most of it. He has the second highest rebounding rate for all rookies, and leads rookies in offensive rebounding.

Stewart is also a force on the defensive end, adding four blocks in his last two games, giving fits to DeMarcus Cousins and Joel Embiid. He’s a double-double machine waiting to happen. Watch this kid grow.

🏀 Shoot your shot

Thanks for reading the Pistons Pivot Newsletter. Feel free to reach out with any comments or ideas you have about the team -- or just to say hello. Until next time,

- Ken Haddad (Contact me: Email | Twitter)

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