Detroit Pistons: It’s time to embrace tanking during the rebuild

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

As the Detroit Pistons disappointing season winds to a close, there is a silver-lining that fans need to embrace for the balance of a dreadful season.

Similar to how many Detroit sports fans view Matthew Stafford, the same goes for Andre Drummond. Leading up to the NBA trade deadline, it was a fanbase split, filled with rage over both scenarios. Should the Detroit Pistons trade Drummond or continue moving forward with him as a centerpiece of the franchise?

The point is, fans will never agree, that’s the virtue of sports. Everyone has an opinion. The same goes for the thought of ‘tanking.’ How can you embrace a tank, and still call yourself a fan? Well, it’s quite simple.

The Detroit Pistons are one loss out of ‘second place’ in the tank sweepstakes having lost 11 of their last 12 games. The organization has managed to win a total of 3 ball games over their last 20. Does that type of performance give the ‘anti-tank’ crowd hope?

At this point, we need to look towards the future rather than focus on the now. With 17 games left in the season, not winning another game may not be ideal for the viewer, but it certainly will benefit the franchise, even as painful as it would be.  At the moment, the Pistons sit fifth last in the NBA with an overall record of 20-45. The worst team remains the Golden State Warriors with a record of 15-50. The good news is, Steph Curry has returned to the Warriors lineup, but will that be enough to win six more games before the season expires? Probably not.

Detroit is only one game out of having the second-worst record in the league, and with a dreadful March schedule set to begin, don’t expect many victories to occur. Last night the New Jersey Nets defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in L.A. of all places, I wouldn’t bank on the Pistons ‘accidentally’ beating say the Rockets, Clippers, Raptors, Lakers amongst many others down the home stretch of the season.

In the NBA, the perfect lottery landing is in the bottom three. Unlike the NHL, where the worst team gets the best odds, followed by the second-worst team getting slightly worse odds of obtaining the first overall pick, the NBA has the bottom three teams, all with the same odds (14%) of winning the draft lottery.

Finishing in the bottom three is very important. It’s painful to think about or cheer to lose, but in a way, it’s not all that bad. Although losing is important, losing close, entertaining games while seeing visible growth within the young players isn’t the worst thing.  It goes without saying, there is a much better chance of landing a franchise-changing talent the earlier you pick in the draft.  At this point, finishing with the 10th pick doesn’t do much good for Detroit.  Picking in the top three, on the other hand, is very valuable.

We’ve seen undrafted Christian Wood barely make Detroit’s roster this past summer blossom into a budding star. We’ve seen the necessary flashes of hope from the league’s youngest player, Sekou Doumbouya, to leave us salivating over what may be in the near future.

Throw that into a blender with a rejuvenated Derrick Rose, a healthy Luke Kennard, and Blake Griffin. Mix in a 2020 lottery pick, and suddenly it’s a franchise that will once again find it’s feet and begin to walk again. Perhaps an organization that doesn’t just walk, but begins to run and probably if all goes to plan, sprint again over the next few seasons.

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Rebuilds are tough, when all four major sports teams are doing it all at once, tough doesn’t describe it, it’s agonizing, but we’ve seen enough with this Detroit Pistons team while losing to feel the sun once again start to peak through the dense clouds.