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ESPN predicts disaster for Detroit Pistons

An ESPN panel of experts, which included Patrick and I, predicted the final NBA standings.

The good news? We collectively think the 17-24 Pistons will improve in the second half of the season.

The bad news? Not enough.

ESPN has the Pistons finishing 35-47 and ninth in the Eastern Conference – the worst end of The Disaster Zone.

That would mean the Pistons missing the playoffs and, I believe, Joe Dumars losing his job. At this point, I’m certainly not campaigning for Dumars to remain Detroit’s general manager, but I would like the team to make the playoffs – especially given the consequence of narrowly missing.

If the standings shake out this way, the Pistons would have the No. 11 seed in the lottery and a 2.9 percent chance of keeping their 2014 draft pick. Only landing a top-three pick in the lottery would prevent Detroit from sending the top-eight-protected first-round pick it owes Charlotte from the Ben Gordon trade.

Obviously, the Pistons, not ESPN’s experts, will determine how the rest of the season goes, and nothing is a foregone conclusion. There’s a lot of wiggle room on both sides.

In the projections, the Pistons are just one game behind the Knicks for the No. 8 seed and four games behind the Nets for the No. 6 seed, the latter of which would mean avoiding the Heat and Pacers in the first round. In the other direction, Detroit is just three games from a top-eight seed in the lottery – and an 82.4 percent chance of its their pick

It won’t be easy for Detroit to make the playoffs, but getting a top-eight seed in the lottery is probably even harder. The Pistons, from Tom Gores down, have nobody to blame but themselves for getting into this precarious situation.

Make the playoffs, keep their pick or The Disaster Zone – which is most likely? I’d rank them playoffs, The Disaster Zone, keeping their pick. But that The Disaster Zone is so likely – and the predicted outcome by ESPN – is a huge failure by the organization.

41 Comments

  • Jan 22, 20148:21 am
    by gmehl

    Reply

    If we miss the playoffs and also lose our draft pick then Joe is 100% gone. They might as we un-retire his #4 guernsey too.

    • Jan 22, 20149:48 am
      by Tim Thielke

      Reply

      People have got to stop mixing up Dumars the player and Dumars the GM. The successes and failures of one have no bearing on the other.

    • Jan 22, 201411:18 am
      by Russell

      Reply

      GUERNSEY!!!!!

  • Jan 22, 20148:36 am
    by @GPMasters

    Reply

    THROW MONEY AT UJIRI…

  • Jan 22, 20148:40 am
    by PistonFanSinceDay1

    Reply

    We’ll make the playoffs. 

    • Jan 22, 20143:13 pm
      by Jodi aka "The Guru"

      Reply

      I think the same…

  • Jan 22, 20148:41 am
    by Steve K

    Reply

    It’s due to that friggin’ Ben Gordon trade that I advocate tanking. Under normal circumstances, I would never favor losing. I agree with most that it’s a loser’s mentality. Yet, this is a special case. By winning this season, the Pistons actually hurt themselves.
     
    After 41 games, this team is already tanking, albeit not intentionally. The experiment is not working. It’s possible they may have the pieces to form a winning team, but, whether due to coaching, scheme, player IQ, it’s just not working.
     
    It’s time for Joe to start working the phones. Explore some trades. In the meantime, move Monroe to the 5, Smith to the 4, and Singler to the 3. Bring Drummond and Bynum off the bench together. It’s not rocket science.
     
    If they start winning, great. If they start losing, that’s fine too. They just can’t keep on this current path.

  • Jan 22, 20148:43 am
    by pistonspoland

    Reply

    I want them to be i Disaster Zone. We need a fresh start with newschool GM

  • Jan 22, 20149:13 am
    by Vic

    Reply

    Let’s hope they double down on failure, and trade a young Olympic try out big that they should have surrounded with 3 shooters. 
    Instead lets hope they keep the guy whose going to be the worst 3 point shooter in the history of the NBA after this season. 
    That way they lose their draft pick and don’t make the playoffs. 
     

  • Jan 22, 20149:17 am
    by Vic

    Reply

    Let’s hope they double down on failure, and trade a young Olympic try out big that they should have surrounded with 3 shooters. 
    Instead lets hope they keep the guy whose going to be the worst 3 point shooter in the history of the NBA after this season. 
    That way they lose their draft pick and don’t make the playoffs. 
    Being sarcastic here.

  • Jan 22, 20149:27 am
    by jg22

    Reply

    lol What makes this panel of experts any more expert than the commentors on here? 
     
    Everyone here could predict the Pistons will trade CV for Kevin Durant, but that doesn’t mean anything. 
     
    I respect your guys’ opinions, but lets remember its just opinions, and just because you attach ‘espn’ to it doesn’t make it any more credible than joe schmo typing it on a message board.
     
    Sorry if that comes across harsh, but that title kind of comes across as way too negative for something that’s just the opinions of a few writers at espn.

    • Jan 22, 201411:29 am
      by Huddy

      Reply

      I think the fact that they are paid by a respected sports news organization to spend a large amount of time gathering knowledge of teams and crafting these forecasts makes them significantly more qualified than random commentors.  Even just by virtue of time in the day.  Most non sports writers are spending 40+ of their hours working and (somewhat) concentrating on things outside sports.  It doesn’t really make sense to assume that literally anyone is as credible as people whos full time job it is to watch and report on sports.  Does the average commentor have time to follow 30 NBA teams closely enough to formulate a significant opinion on where they all are heading this season? I disagree with ESPN writers frequently, but if everything anyone says about sports is equally credible…why read or comment on anything sports related?
       
      Predicting the Pistons will trade CV for Kevin Durant would represent an opinion obviously lacking in knowledge of the value of CV and Durant and be incredibly stupid.  Predicting a team with a bad record through half the seasons that isn’t experiencing any injury issues will remain bad while probably improving slightly with the line up getting more and more used to each other isn’t outlandish or off base by any means.

      • Jan 22, 20145:27 pm
        by Ra

        Reply

        Huddy makes a great point that I wish people would acknowledge more often.  Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but that doesn’t mean both opinions have the same weight.

    • Jan 22, 20141:14 pm
      by Jodi aka "The Guru"

      Reply

      Preach to them jg22!..

      • Jan 22, 20141:59 pm
        by Huddy

        Reply

        Yeah Jodi!  What record do the Pistons reach when you simulate your franchise in 2k14?  Thats the kind of expertise I’m looking for.

        • Jan 22, 20143:15 pm
          by Jodi aka "The Guru"

          Reply

          @Huddy: LOL!!. I haven’t finished my season yet jerk…I’ll let you know our overall record soon enough…

  • Jan 22, 20149:33 am
    by labatts

    Reply

    I honestly think that this might be the “best case” scenario.  I know it hurts, losing the draft pick and all, but they already set themselves up for this by everything that they did leading up to this point.  The Gordon trade, the Smith signing, the Other Brandon signing.  Heck, you can even argue that they drafted the wrong player in last years draft (which means Dumars missed on 2 out of the last 4 drafts by my math).
    Anyway, if this makes Gores wake up and realize that things need to change and that “win now at all costs” is not a good plan, then it becomes the best case scenario.

    • Jan 22, 201410:07 am
      by Ryan

      Reply

      I agree that Tom Gores seems to need a swift kick up the ass regarding his stupid, “win now” philosophy. We would have been far, far better off to not sign Smith or trade for Jennings and let the core we had keep developing. Instead we added pieces that other teams knew weren’t going to add up to a winner. There must’ve been lots of celebration around the league when we screwed ourselves by signing Josh Smith.

      We need to crash and burn, Joe Dumars probably needs to be fired (though who can tell who is making decisions now) and we need to salvage what we can from this mess. That means tearing down those goddamned “Be Impactful” signs (might as well say, “Talk like a dumb ass.”), firing Mason, moving Smith, Jennings, Stuckey and Villanueva for as much value as possible. Probably firing coach Cheeks too.

      Ask Lionel Hollins to build the team ground up along the lines he used in Memphis. Then go looking for shooters to open things up.

      • Jan 22, 201410:27 am
        by @GPMasters

        Reply

        “Firing Mason” lol…

      • Jan 22, 201412:23 pm
        by jamesjones_det

        Reply

        The Jennings trade wasn’t a bad trade.  Has it worked out as people hoped?  No, but Brandon Knight is never going to me more that a role player if he’s even that lucky, and in my opinion is going the way of Daye.  Jennings has a fairly movable contract and at 24 I can almost guarantee some other coach out there is going to think they can coach him into a real PG and that will allow him to be moved as a add on trade chip.
         
        I’m all for firing Mason though, his Detroit Basketballs have really fallen off these last couple of years…  What’s he got maybe 25 this year?

        • Jan 22, 20142:10 pm
          by MIKEYDE248

          Reply

          It might just be hard for him to get worked up with the team playing poorly.

  • Jan 22, 201410:22 am
    by JYD for Life

    Reply

    You guys act like it’s easy to build a contender…it doesn’t happen overnight or in one summer (unless you’re Danny Ainge).  
    What were the expectations this year?  To make the Playoffs.  They are extremely close to that right now.  I would disagree with the panel that New York will pass the Pistons in the standings because that team is a disaster.  If anything, Charlotte or Cleveland might pass us, but Toronto could free fall and trade Lowry.    
     
    Let it play out before you say things like “throw money at Ujiri” and “fire  Joe and tear down his jersey from the rafters.”  
     
    That’s just foolish…What has Masai won?  What has he done?  Built a team in Denver that made it to the second round for consecutive years after he traded Melo?  He made a great trade this year, but Gay is actually playing well in Sacramento (a team that was trading for anyone at the time to please their new owner).  Great stuff…he’s bottoming out in Toronto and that’s what you’re calling for here in Detroit.  That’s what the Pistons have been for four years!  Four lottery picks in a row is about as bottomed out or tanked as you can be.  
     
    I said it a few weeks ago, but look at the teams that have won titles in the past 20-30 years…we’re in that group.  
     
    I’m not saying Joe isn’t to blame…someone has to take the fall for the Cheeks hiring.   But give it another three weeks and see where it goes.  If nothing happens, then yes, don’t sign Joe this summer…The sky isn’t going to fall if we don’t have the 13th pick in the 2014 draft either…relax.  
    My point is that bringing in a new GM right now doesn’t do anything…Any new guy won’t swing a deal in his first week on the job.  

    • Jan 22, 20141:18 pm
      by Jodi aka "The Guru"

      Reply

      PREACH to them JYD for Life!!. Even if we don’t make the playoffs I don’t think we’re firing Dumars though…Besides that, you and jg22 are on fire today…

    • Jan 22, 20141:21 pm
      by Jerrific

      Reply

      We haven’t been tanking, we’ve been really bad at trying to win. Joe needs to go not because we aren’t winning games, but because he’s making terrible decisions (signing CV, Gordon, and Smith, drafting Brandon Knight and probably KCP too, the Ben Gordon trade. Also every coach he’s hired since flip.) If he had made good decisions and the team was losing, fans might be okay with that because the vision would be there. Right now, there is no apparent vision, just misguided desperation and it is just depressing to watch him flounder from one terrible decision to the next. And it is not possible for us to have the 13th pick in this draft unless we make a trade. 

      • Jan 22, 20141:23 pm
        by Jerrific

        Reply

        Oh, I forgot to mention Jennings in his terrible decisions. Knight’s bad, but at least he played defense. Jennings is both inefficient offensively and a terrible defender. 

    • Jan 22, 20141:57 pm
      by Huddy

      Reply

      Kind of a weird argument.  We should give it time and remember that the team has won a championship in the last 30 years…but 3 weeks from now we will know if Joe shouldn’t be rehired and all that history and patience is over?  Even if they were good for 3 weeks..10 games is going to indicate how this system is working more than the last 41?  I guess an upward trend would be nice, but seems like it at least makes more sense to be worried than it does to be optimistic at this point.
       
      Its not easy to build a contender, but I think fans would be more patient if there didn’t seem to be so many backwards steps.  Fans have patience for collect draft picks, grooming rookies, strengthening personnel, etc.  Fans react negatively to losing draft picks for nothing, watching players traded away for nothing excel elsewhere, picking poor coaches repeatedly, and spending money on players with glaring fit issues (it looks impatient to get talent regardless of fit).

      • Jan 22, 20143:20 pm
        by Jodi aka "The Guru"

        Reply

        @Huddy: We traded our pick for salary space…Dumars used that salary space to make our team more talented…He indeed made our team more talented…Now all we need to do as fans is be patient and allow the pieces to gain chemistry…Minor trades will happen, you guys just need to be patient…

        • Jan 22, 20143:31 pm
          by Huddy

          Reply

          We traded our pick for salary space 1 year earlier than we would have had it…impatience.  Paid for the first upper level FA that would say yes even though he is a questionable fit…impatience.  
           
          The organization decided to tell the fan base that these moves that are clearly focused on winning now (moving the pick and signing a big FA) meant winning now.  The team isn’t winning…how is that the fault of the fan base.  The organization set the bar for patience very low.  It is true that making the playoffs wouldn’t be too hard this year regardless of how they have played so far, but thats a very shallow victory.  No one outside of the top 3 teams in the east would even be in the playoffs in the west at this point.  A 7th-8th seed in the east is about as empty a victory as there is in sports.

          • Jan 23, 201412:41 pm
            by JYD for Life

            Jodi is right, Huddy…They’re a few moves away from being able to make this thing work.  
            The biggest problem seems like a lack of an overall strategy…Dumars hired Cheeks to “teach Knight how to be a point guard like he did for Westbrook” and because he was “great with the other young players in OKC” – Which was flawed to begin with because you can’t really “teach” someone how to be one of the top 10 players in the league…Westbrook was going to be that if you or I were coaching him.  Either way, if our strategy was to still develop our guys and take one more trip to the lottery, then Cheeks was ok for a few years.   
            The Smith signing and trade for Jennings somewhat changed the job description for Cheeks.  All of the sudden, it seemed like the Playoffs were the top priority and not developing guys.  
            I want to point to Gores for messing the plan up, but we’ve seen this before.  He hired Mike Curry to babysit a team that had been to the Eastern Conference Finals six times in a row.  We all know what happened there and Curry got a pretty raw deal (which finishing four games under .500 isn’t terrible for a guy with absolutely no head coaching experience and a messed up roster and dealing with the Iverson headache – I still think that MC will make a fine coach one day and has been rock solid as an assistant – Everyone talks about developing guys – well MC was in charge of developing Amir Johnson and Aaron Afflalo as an assistant under Flip).  
            All of that aside, I agree with you that there are mixed messages.  My point was that there are a lot of good pieces on this roster and with a few moves, they could mesh.  That’s why I was saying wait until after the trade deadline before drawing any conclusions.  
             
             

  • Jan 22, 201410:35 am
    by Victor

    Reply

    Unfortunately, barring a trade, I think Pistons miss the playoffs. No fit at all for this core. 
    Hopefully, if they miss it, they also hit the jackpot with a small combination of balls. A little bit of luck wouldnt hurt for a change.
    Fire JD. Fire Mo.
    They draft Wiggins or Jabari Parker and trade Josh Smith. 
    Jennings – KCP – Wiggins – Moose – Dre
    It would take a lot of luck. In other words, we’re in deep trouble.

    • Jan 22, 20142:14 pm
      by Smitty

      Reply

      Parker and Embid might not even come out this year, so this draft class could be pretty weak. We would be best served to make some moves before the deadline.
       

  • Jan 22, 201411:03 am
    by Windy

    Reply

    The scary thing is it’s actually getting worse by the day…after the first 25 games they had the old lines of “we’re just working out the kinks” “figuring out where guys like the ball” etc….now 20 games later and were still regressing, guys are putting up their worst games of their careers, no more answers to questions, they look fully frustrated and lost…Mo Cheeks sounds exhausted, lots and again no answers…it’s a pretty sad state of affairs when you can just tell the balance of the starting lineup is awful and could be easily fixed to probably make us a more competitive team, were at the point where were getting blown out or giving up lead down the stretch…on a team in need of shooters arguably the best one is sitting on the bench in GiGi…
    We won’t be able to tank as much as we should as we have already won probably too many games to land in the top 8…gotta make a trade of Monroe…he looks miserable and I don’t blame him…we looked better when Knight, Singler and Maxiel were in the starting lineup, at least they were competitive and had one of the tightest win lose margins in the league…now we’re just getting smashed out early and often! Pathetic if nothing gets done to right this ship…hire Cheeks when you got Hollins and Karl with no job?!? You get what you pay for I guess…

    • Jan 22, 201412:36 pm
      by I HATE LOSING (Predicting a Strong Finish)

      Reply

      I have a new mindset about the Pistons woke up this morning believing things are gonna turn around… 

      • Jan 22, 201412:50 pm
        by D_S_V

        Reply

        Good morning to have that revelation seeing as the Bucks are on the slate tonight!

        • Jan 22, 20141:24 pm
          by Parsons

          Reply

          I don’t see it. Our schedule is going to lose it for us. This is the easiest our schedule will be the rest of the season. 4 more against Miami and Indi, 14 against the West, and the rest is basically all the teams we’ll be fighting for the 8th seed. The 8 teams fighting for the playoffs in the East make up most of the our remaining schedule. Those teams are all getting better too, except Chicago and Toronto but their not that bad, we’re just skidding our tires. 16 games against everyone between Atlanta and Boston in the standings. I think we could beat them but the second we’re faced with adversity we give up. As soon as the other teams go on a run we’ll just give up rather than fight. 16 games against fighting teams will be almost impossible to overcome if we can’t match their intensity. Not to mention we’re 2-13 against the West. If we match that and go 2-12 in our last 14 western conference games we will be watching the playoffs on TV.

          • Jan 22, 20141:59 pm
            by I HATE LOSING (Predicting a Strong Finish)

            Im trying to start a movement  FINISH STRONG! …we already know whats wrong with this team…Im just believing we have seen the worst

  • Jan 22, 201412:16 pm
    by drew

    Reply

    well this post spoiled the season.

  • Jan 22, 20144:20 pm
    by Corey

    Reply

    Giving the 11th pick in this draft isn’t disaster. Disaster is getting the 7th or 8th pick and keeping it, but missing out on any top players. Disaster would be getting someone ok but not special this year, then giving Charlotte the #2 or #3 pick in the draft next year and losing out on a star. THAT would be a disaster.

    • Jan 22, 20144:32 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      This draft isn’t very top heavy, but it’s still supposed to have plenty of quality guys hanging around at 8. I think someone like Gary Harris or Rodney Hood would look pretty good in Detroit, and most people would expect them both to be there. Even if Detroit does whiff on the pick, do you really think Detroit would be that much worse next year despite the fact that they have some young players that will likely improve? Oh, and even if they keep Monroe they have $10 million to spend in cap space. I’m really having a hard time coming up with a scenario where anyone could blow it enough for Detroit to pick higher than 8 next year.

  • Jan 23, 20142:04 am
    by Corey

    Reply

    It’s unlikely. But that’s why I specified pick 2 or 3- they could easily miss the playoffs and be at around #12 in the draft next year. There is then a chance that they could win the 2nd or 3rd pick in the draft- and lose it to Charlotte. It’s only top 1 protected next year. 
    I’d like to agree that a good lottery pick makes them a playoff team for sure next year- but if they keep Cheeks and JoD, I am not so confident.

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