Greatest All-Time Starting 5: Detroit Pistons
Here at Off the Glass we’re taking on the arduous task of going through every NBA teams’ greatest possible starting five, using players that have played for that franchise. A player at each position (Point Guard through Center) will be selected, along with a 6th man who can be any position.
This is how it works:
Players selected must have played at least two full seasons for the franchise
The selection will be based on a combination of statistics, accomplishments/accolades and their significance to the franchise in question
Players had to have predominantly played at that particular position for at least one season to be eligible
Let’s get started.
Point Guard – Isiah Thomas: Isiah Thomas might be the most talented pound-for-pound basketball player of all-time and, like many of the ‘Bad Boy’ Piston teammates, he was gritty and tough to go along with it. He was the leader of a Pistons team that won back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. Zeke managed to be named to 12 All-Star Games and 5 All-NBA teams in his 13 year career, while averaging 19 PPG and 9 APG for his career. Isiah has been the face of the Pistons franchise, essentially since he was drafted 2nd overall in 1981 and is still the current franchise leader in points, assists and steals. He was named one of the 50 greatest players of all-time and is widely considered one of the top 5 point guards of all-time.
Shooting Guard – Joe Dumars: Joe Dumars fully embodied what De-troit-Basket-ball is all about. He was skilled and talented on the offensive end, tough and hard-hitting on the defensive end, and played each and every possession like it would be his last. He was the perfect compliment to Isiah in the backcourt and together they created one of the greatest tandems in NBA history. Not only did he deliver two championships ON the court, as General Manager, Joe Dumars was the mastermind behind putting together the 2004 roster that won the franchise's third championship. During his time with the Pistons, the 6-time All-Star was a 2-time champion and was named Finals MVP in 1989, to go along with 5 All-Defense and 3 All-NBA selections.
Small Forward – Grant Hill: If it weren’t for a horrible (and poorly treated) ankle injury in 2000, we may be having a completely different discussion around Grant Hill and his accomplishments. However, that injury would completely alter his career path, which in all fairness, still turned out to be very successful. During his time in Detroit, however, Hill was a budding young star and was drawing (ill-conceived) comparisons to Michael Jordan. At his apex in Detroit, Hill averaged 25.8PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 5.3 APG and found himself in the MVP discussion along with Shaq and Iverson. He finished his career in Detroit with 5 All-Star appearances and 5 All-NBA selections.
Power Forward – Dennis Rodman: Dennis Rodman is the greatest rebounder of all-time. I know Wilt Chamberlain put up more eye-popping numbers, but he was essentially a living giant during his NBA career. At a modest 6’7”, Dennis Rodman led the league in rebounding 7 times over his 14 year career and in 1992 he collected 20+ rebounds on 39 occasions. His tenacity, toughness and physical brand of defense made him a perfect fit for the style of basketball played during the 1990s, which won him 5 championships rings – 2 coming with the Pistons. While playing in Detroit, Rodman won 2 Defensive Player of the Year awards, 5 1st Team All-Defensive selections, and 1 All-NBA selection.
Center – Bob Lanier: Bob Lanier was one of the greatest centers of his generation, and is one of only a few players to have their jersey retired by two different franchises (Detroit and Milwaukee). He was selected 1st overall by Detroit in the 1970 NBA draft and was a dominant force from day one. Lanier is often overlooked due to the number of franchise caliber centers that played during the same timeframe (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dave Cowens, Bob, McAdoo, Willis Reed, etc.) but he was still a very productive player for his time averaging 23 PPG, 12 RPG and 2 BPG during his stint with Detroit. The 8-time all-star struggled with his fitness throughout his career, and although it never seemed to hamper his on-court production, it did hurt his team’s success as they only qualified for the playoffs in 4 of Lanier’s 10 seasons as a Piston.
6th Man – Chauncey Billups/Richard Hamilton/Tayshaun Prince/Rasheed Wallace/Ben Wallace: An argument could be made that each of these guys could have cracked the Pistons All-Time Starting 5. But I find it fitting to keep this group of guys together as they were the epitome of a team being greater than the sum of their parts. In 2004, the Detroit Pistons pulled off the unthinkable. The first to join Detroit was Ben Wallace when he was packaged along with Chucky Atkins in a trade that sent Grant Hill to Orlando. Then in 2002, Jerry Stackhouse was traded for Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups signed as a free agent and Tayshaun Prince was drafted 23rd overall. The final piece to the puzzle came when Rasheed Wallace was traded at the deadline in 2004, and the rest was history. The quintet would go on to beat a Los Angeles Lakers super team that included Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal to win the 2004 Championship. Although that would be their only ring, Detroit was a perennial contender until 2008. During their time together they combined for 13 All-Star appearances, 6 All-NBA teams, 10 All-Defensive teams, 206.9 regular season win shares and 53.6 playoff win shares.
Did I miss any of your favorite Pistons? Let me know if you agree or disagree – @awrxshxx