The 2004 Pistons are the only modern-era team to have won a title without a significant contribution from a player it picked in the lottery (or a lottery pick it traded for on draft night).
From Joe Dumars down, the Pistons evidently can’t stomach the thought of losing, and certainly not for a draft pick. In 2010, Dumars told Dave Pemberton of the Oakland Press:
“It is impossible to feel good about losing,” Dumars said. “I understand that maybe from a fan and media perspective, ‘Oh, just lose games.’ Your mind can’t even get around that. Even down the stretch when we were way out of it, you feel better leaving the arena after you won a game as opposed to losing a game because at that point you’re not looking at standings and trying to figure out where you are because you know what you have to go through a lottery anyway."
Dumars has brought in like-minded individuals: a coach and players who apparently hate losing just as much.
There’s certainly a reasonably case that he has made mistakes in assembling this the current roster. Refusing to tank might be another one of his strategic mistakes.
But it should be noted that the Pistons have denounced tanking — and backed it up with their actions. In playoff-less seasons, the Pistons finished with a 4-1 run last year and a 4-2 run the year before.
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