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Hollinger says Pistons are historically just above mediocre

John Hollinger of ESPN.com ranked every NBA team based on their all-time results. The Pistons are 13th.

I’m willing to concede the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs and Bulls are ahead of Detroit. The 76ers, Trail Blazers and maybe even the Jazz or Rockets would be in the discussion with the Pistons for the next tier.

But 13th? C’mon, John.


Here’s a rundown of his scoring system:

  • Regular season wins: one point
  • Playoff wins: two points
  • Playoff series wins: four points
  • Championships: 30 points
  • All-Star selections: two points
  • Relocation: –100 points
  • Intangibles: –150-150 points

It’s all per years played, so newer teams have a chance. You can find Hollinger’s full explanation of scoring here.

I can’t access Detroit’s numbers because any team ranked after 10th requires Insider to view. But I crunched some numbers.

The Pistons are seventh in championships per year and fourth in playoff wins per year. They’re just 17th in wins per year, but Hollinger says they’ve had more All-Stars than anyone besides the Lakers and Celtics. (You can see a league-wide table with wins, playoff wins and championships per year after the jump).

Also, six straight trips to the conference finals and five straight appearances by the Bad Boys should leave the Pistons high in playoff series wins.

Detroit gets a relocation penalty. But so does Oklahoma City (12th), Houston (10th), Utah (seventh) and Philadelphia (sixth).

What went wrong for Detroit?

I don’t know the exact numbers, but I’m guessing the Pistons took a hit in intangibles. Here’s what Hollinger went on:

Intangibles matter too, and I created a separate category for special circumstances. For instance, the Blazers of the early part of this decade were perfectly respectable in terms of wins and losses, but few were eager to admit rooting for that team because of all the scoundrels littering the roster. This is the one part that’s completely subjective, but for several teams I subtracted or added 50 to 150 points based on playing styles, player behavior, superstars and other major factors.

My first guess was Detroit lost points for the brawl at the Palace. But the Pacers broke even on intangibles without having done anything to deserve a positive offset (“Thirty years of good karma” – What?).

No, the Pistons probably lost points because of the Bad Boys’ style (and maybe the Rick Carlisle/Larry Brown modern reincarnation, too). And that’s ridiculous. It’s jealousy.

That style should be a plus. If you’re not a Pistons fan, imagine your favorite team played that way (and the NBA still allowed it). You’d love it.

Detroiters thought Rick Mahorn was a hard worker, a tough guy and scrappy when he was a Piston. When he went to the 76ers and fought Bill Laimbeer, he was a thug.

He’s the kind of guy you love when he’s on your team and hate when he’s somewhere else. The Bad Boys were full of them.

So, other teams’ fans won’t accept it. Fine. I’m guessing Hollinger didn’t either. (Although maybe Detroit’s low ranking is for another reason. Without Insider, I don’t know for sure.)

But as a Piston fan, I’ll always be proud of the Jordan rules, holding five straight opponents under 70 points in 2004 and Laimbeer’s elbows.

Star power

This doesn’t really have much to do with the Pistons’ low ranking (it actually improves it), but I found it interesting. A brief excerpt of the article that’s available without insider:

Detroit, land of stars? Believe it. Only the Lakers and Celtics have produced more All-Star seasons than the Pistons’ 101. Whether the team is up or down, it usually has at least one bona fide star. From Dave Bing to Isiah Thomas to Grant Hill to Allen Iverson, the Pistons have almost always had at least one performer who could get fans in the door.

Not exactly.

Nearly half (47) of the All-Stars were in addition to another selection for a given year. The Pistons haven’t really been built on stars. They’ve been successful when they’ve had a few very good players at the same time.

That should be worth some intangibles points. Teamwork – sounds pretty commendable to me.

Yrs Reg. W Reg. W/Yr Playoff W/Yr Champ Champ/Yr
Boston Celtics 63 2922 46.38095238 304 4.825397 17 0.26984127
Los Angeles Lakers 61 2970 48.68852459 397 6.508197 14 0.229508197
Chicago Bulls 43 1777 41.3255814 157 3.651163 6 0.139534884
San Antonio Spurs 42 1981 47.16666667 107 2.547619 4 0.095238095
Indiana Pacers 42 1734 41.28571429 81 1.928571 3 0.071428571
Philadelphia 76ers 60 2542 42.36666667 123 2.05 3 0.05
Detroit Pistons 61 2400 39.3442623 188 3.081967 3 0.049180328
Houston Rockets 42 1737 41.35714286 109 2.595238 2 0.047619048
Miami Heat 21 814 38.76190476 53 2.52381 1 0.047619048
New Jersey Nets 42 1524 36.28571429 52 1.238095 2 0.047619048
Golden State Warriors 63 2267 35.98412698 104 1.650794 3 0.047619048
New York Knickerbockers 63 2454 38.95238095 179 2.84127 2 0.031746032
Portland Trail Blazers 39 1683 43.15384615 80 2.051282 1 0.025641026
Milwaukee Bucks 41 1744 42.53658537 101 2.463415 1 0.024390244
Oklahoma City Thunder 42 1768 42.0952381 31 0.738095 1 0.023809524
Washington Wizards 48 1775 36.97916667 77 1.604167 1 0.020833333
Atlanta Hawks 60 2323 38.71666667 120 2 1 0.016666667
Sacramento Kings 61 2275 37.29508197 153 2.508197 1 0.016393443
Phoenix Suns 41 1860 45.36585366 91 2.219512 0 0
Utah Jazz 35 1541 44.02857143 109 3.114286 0 0
Orlando Magic 20 811 40.55 206 10.3 0 0
Denver Nuggets 42 1679 39.97619048 43 1.02381 0 0
Dallas Mavericks 29 1152 39.72413793 63 2.172414 0 0
New Orleans Hornets 21 830 39.52380952 32 1.52381 0 0
Cleveland Cavaliers 39 1460 37.43589744 54 1.384615 0 0
Minnesota Timberwolves 20 673 33.65 17 0.85 0 0
Toronto Raptors 14 462 33 11 0.785714 0 0
Los Angeles Clippers 39 1146 29.38461538 20 0.512821 0 0
Charlotte Bobcats 5 144 28.8 0 0 0 0
Memphis Grizzlies 14 364 26 0 0 0 0


  • Jun 12, 200910:50 am
    by Dan Cato


    Wins: 2,368
    Playoff wins: 182
    Series wins: 44
    Titles: 3
    All-Stars: 101
    Best player: Isiah Thomas
    Best coach: Chuck Daly
    Best team: 1988-89 (63-19, won title)
    Intangibles: -50. Palace Brawl leaves stain; slow-paced teams lacked excitement.

  • Jun 12, 200910:51 am
    by shawn brown


    i dont believe all the moronic nonsense that the clods at espn are always spewing about certain teams and that includes my beloved pistons …they are bias against small market teams and they always have been …the pistons are in the top ten in several play off categories including wins , so how can hollinger claim the pistons are just above mediocre?? last time i checked they have more championships then cleveland, utah , houston and several other teams ….. to rank them 13th shows these guys are all about hype and no substance …… you want to know who really is mediocre , try tim leglers so called “basketball i q ” and the espn/abc announcing team of jackson/van gundy/ brheem……talk about brutal!!!

  • Jun 13, 20091:28 pm
    by Todd Peek


    I find it funny that John Hollingers claim to fame is creating simple math equations for basketball and then passing them off as complex. They are almost always his opinion manipulated into a formula that pushes his ideas; maybe he should work for FOX news instead. The fact that he put in an “intangible” stat made me laugh at him once again. Obviously he didn’t want to go on pure stats because then his favorite teams would be shot down. I like Atlanta too John but they are what they are and you can’t help that. One last note JOHN, Forbes just listed the Detroit Pistons as ranked 4th on the NBA Team Valuations 2007. Another bogus formula all shot up.

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