DETROIT – The Detroit Pistons are a dumpster fire -- again.
This isn’t new for Pistons fans. The team has been terrible -- like, historically terrible -- for several years. Even when they were a fringe playoff team with Blake Griffin, they had no shot at actually competing for a championship.
It feels like an eternity ago that the Pistons were one of the best teams in the league for half a decade, because it was -- it’s been nearly 20 years since the 2004 championship.
Since the break up of that team, the Pistons have been irrelevant.
We’ve sat through different front offices, a new owner, a parade of coaches (remember Mo Cheeks?), bad trades, bad signings, bad draft picks, players traded away or let go too soon, even a player mutiny (remember John Kuester?).
We’ve had to watch different iterations of rebuilds and restorations and whatever the current GM wanted to call it. Over and over and over again.
We’ve been talking about rebuilds for a decade. And we thought maybe, just maybe, we were onto something with Pistons general manager Troy Weaver. But it looks like the same old story.
Leave it to Weaver? Maybe not
Weaver started his Pistons career with a barrage of draft night trades, and free agency splashes -- mostly centers (Mason Plumlee, Jahlil Okafor). The Weaver rebuild started with drafting Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart. It was a bad season, but it was expected.
The next season, the Pistons landed the No. 1 overall pick -- Cade Cunningham. This would surely turn the tide. It was a bad season, but it was expected.
And the next season, Jaden Ivey falls to the Pistons -- a perfect backcourt pairing! But with injuries, Cade and Ivey didn’t get much time together, and it was another bad season. It was expected.
Cunningham, now in his third season, has played about one full season worth of games after dealing with injuries. Saddiq Bey plays for Atlanta. Killian Hayes is one of the most unpopular players in Detroit sports. And Isaiah Stewart -- an undersized, below-average shooting big man -- just got a contract extension. Sure, why not?
And of course, Jaden Ivey can’t get on the floor long enough to develop, because new head coach Monty Williams has an issue with him.
The other young guys -- Jalen Duren, Ausar Thompson, Marcus Sasser -- they’re good. They could be really good. But great players never seem to emerge in an organization that can’t find their way out of a paper bag.
Anyone who watches basketball can look at the Pistons and see that things just don’t look right. The fits, the players, the skillsets, the lack of shooting, the lack of depth, the lack of development, the lineups -- it’s all wrong. It doesn’t pass the eye test. And fans aren’t stupid.
The Troy Weaver era of Pistons basketball has been a stretch of the worst basketball we’ve seen in decades. The team was so bad last season that Weaver published a letter to fans, pleading for more patience.
As of this writing, the Pistons are 2-12, having lost 11 straight games since starting 2-1. The patience is wearing thin.
Monty’s confusing lineups
To add insult to injury, for fans, new Pistons coach Monty Williams -- the highest paid head coach in the NBA -- insists on starting Killian Hayes over Jaden Ivey or Marcus Sasser. It’s baffling. It’s almost insulting to fans. Like we don’t have eyes.
Hayes plays defense -- we get it. But Hayes isn’t leading this team to any sort of competitiveness. The NBA isn’t a defensive league. It’s a scoring league. The Pistons can’t score. It’s a problem.
Killian Hayes is not a starter. Killian Hayes is not a starter. Killian Hayes is NOT a starter. Phew. That felt nice to write a few times.
The weird beef between Monty Williams and Jaden Ivey is already tiresome. I couldn’t possibly care less if Monty thinks Ivey’s defense is lackluster, or questions his decision making. He’s a second-year player. He was the No. 5 pick -- he led rookies in scoring in the last month of the season last year.
It’s completely absurd to think the Pistons somehow benefit from him playing limited minutes off the bench, while we have to watch the likes of Killian Hayes and Stanley Umude.
When Bojan Bogdanović returns from injury, Williams will be faced with the decision of whether to bench Isaiah Stewart. The answer is -- obviously yes. But given the current track record, it’s no guarantee.
The Pistons might look a little better after some of the injured players like Bogdanović, Jalen Duren, Monte Morris and Joe Harris get back on the court. They are clearly missing any sort of veteran presence.
But this early season stretch has showed us, very clearly, the Pistons aren’t even close. And that’s unacceptable.