November 3, 2008, Joe Dumars traded Chauncey Billups to Denver for Allen Iverson. Three days later, Charles Barkley stated during a halftime show, that the trade would benefit Detroit more than it would Denver . Boy was he wrong. After acquiring Iverson, the Pistons went below .500, and are down to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Recently, they suffered their first five-game losing streak since 2004, before Rasheed Wallace joined the team. They've lost to the NBA's worst teams, such as the Washington Wizards and the Oklahoma City Thunder; two teams that, even if their wins were combined, are not going to the playoffs. They are currently 24-18, five losses away from meeting last season's record losses (they finished 59-23), and it's only January. So what exactly is it that Detroit is lacking? |
1. Leadership. It wasn't just points and game finishers that Chauncey brought to the team, it was also how he led them. Obviously, after playing with the same roster for so long, there is a strong bond. The team seemed to sulk after losing Billups, especially Rip Hamilton. Rip's numbers dropped, and his ability to play nearly vanished. There is no one on the team to stop and say "Hey, we need to play better." It's almost as if they're giving up. The drive and ambition has almost disappeared. The team seems to be disconnected. They need a player to get them back where they used to be. Maybe Iverson was supposed to be that leader, but being the new kid at school, he can't fully jump into that role. The question is who can?
2. Chemistry. Looking at Detroit 's record, it can be speculated that they just can't play like they used to! Gone are the days of being the team to beat. They've lost games many would have expected them to win. However, they've defeated Cleveland, Orlando, and the Los Angeles Lakers, three out of four of the best teams. Not to mention giving LA their first loss of the season. Therefore the ability to be the best, and BEAT the best is still there. Yet, they suffer on both the offensive and defensive end. Should one player's departure affect a team so much? The players don't mesh well with Iverson, but that shouldn't halter their playing ability. The team is discombobulated, and remixing the starting lineup and minutes has given them a little help, but not enough.
3. Consistency. The Pistons pulled everything together, shut up critics, and ease fans' nerves by starting a seven-game win streak, so we thought. They followed the win streak with a five-game losing streak. They tend to play a win-win, lose-lose, or win-lose, win-lose game sequence. They bounce back after losing to win a game or two, only to fall back into losing. Everyone knows the Eastern Conference Finals is the team's Achilles heel, but the regular season was never a problem, until now.
The biggest query is the Bilups/Iverson trade. Was A.I. the WRONG answer for Detroit ? He was supposed to bring to the team his offensive ability, but was the offense the problem? Iverson is one great player that has yet to win a championship, so his drive and ambition to win was hypothetically going to boost the team.. His playing ability differs from the team's playing ability, so did he make the situation worse? With the egression of Chauncey, it gives way for other players to step up, such as the highly underrated Tayshaun Prince, but that's another story. Yes, it is disappointing to watch the '04 Champs fall in the Conference Finals, but is that better than not getting there at all? Maybe, just maybe, this is a rude awakening for the team, a blessing in disguise. Since 2004, they've been the number 1 seed in the East, excluding last season when Boston took over, and the number 1 or number 2 seed in the entire league. Most believed over-confidence faltered the team come playoff time. The belief of having the best record made them invincible. It's possible that moving down to the fifth, and maybe the fourth, seed will force them to play harder. After three seasons of missing the Finals, they may just pull it together in the post season. Maybe, just maybe we shouldn't give up on the Pistons just yet.