The Detroit Pistons franchise is an American pro-basketball team that plays in the Central Division in the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Based in Detroit, Michigan, the Pistons have their home base in Little Caesars Arena. This venue is also the home venue of the Detroit Red Wings in the National Hockey League. A fairly new facility, the arena was built in late 2017. Previously, the Pistons played at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Pistons were originally founded way back in 1937 in Fort Wayne, Indiana as a semi-professional team, the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons.
The team enjoyed a solid start to their NBA life and had a pretty decent fanbase. However, it was the size of Fort Wayne that made it difficult for them to prosper. Situated in a small city, it was difficult for the Pistons to remain profitable and this was the deciding factor regarding their relocation to Detroit. Surprisingly, although Detroit was the fifth-largest city in the US, it hadn’t been home to a basketball team in ten years, as the Detroit Eagles were lost during World War II.
It was in 1941 that the Pistons turned fully professional and established themselves as a part of the National Basketball League (NBL). In this league, they managed two titles (1944 and 1945). In 1948, the Pistons joined the Basketball Association of America (BAA). Then in 1949, when the BAA merged with the NBL, the Pistons became a part of the newly merged league – the NBA. The team relocated to Detroit in 1957 and became the Detroit Pistons.
Settling to their new location, they started playing home games at the Olympia Stadium. They moved to Cobo Arena four years later. However, the team struggled for a very long time.
Between 1957 and 1981 they were known as a weak franchise. The Pistons, even though they had some players with stellar reputations, struggled to reach the NBA playoffs. For example, between 1974-77 they failed to qualify for the postseason at all. The 1970s is considered a disaster decade for the team with the 1979/80 season a particularly bad one. They finished the decade with a 16-66 regular-season record, followed by a 21-61 record the following season. This included a losing streak over 21 games.
Overall, the team has won eleven division titles, five conference titles, and three NBA Championships. Those titles came in 1989, 1990, and then their most recent one in 2004. The 2004 NBA Championship was played against the Los Angeles Lakers who were coached by Phil Jackson and led by Kobe Bryant.
The golden age of the Detroit Pistons is the late 1980s and the early 1990s. During this time, the Pistons had Isaiah Thomas, a point guard that had a Hall of Fame career. Additionally, the Pistons had Bill Laimbeer in the center position with Joe Dumars and Rick Mahorn in support. Dennis Rodman was also a part of the franchise during this time, a period known as their bad-boy era.
The Pistons have won the NBA title one more time after the bad-boy era – in 2004. Although they haven’t hit the heights of the late 80s. There have been many seasons where they were contenders. They reached six consecutive Eastern Conference finals between 2003-2008 before seeing their fortunes slide again.
In very recent seasons, the team is now trying to head in a new direction. In 2021, the team had the top draft pick and took Cade Cunningham. Whether he will blossom into a star or not remains to be seen but his 2022/23 NBA season was mostly lost to injury.
The Pistons drafted Amir Johnson with their 56th pick in 2005. He was selected directly out of high school. At that time, this wasn’t unheard of with Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett going to the NBA straight from high school. However, Johnson became the last player to ever be drafted straight from high school. He appeared in 870 games in his career and started in 485 of them. Those aren’t bad numbers for an NBA career but they don’t compare to a lot of other straight-out-of-high-school picks.
Detroit Pistons 2023 NBA Draft Picks
The Detroit Pistons had the worst record in the NBA in the 2022/23 NBA season. Cade Cunningham, the top pick from the 2021 NBA Draft, only appeared in 12 games due to an early-season injury. The Pistons, in a draft that had a touted player in Victor Wembanyama, ended up with the 5th pick in the June 22nd, 2023 draft. They selected Ausar Thompson, a 20-year old guard. Detroit also had a second-round pick. They took James Nnaji from a European league. He is a center that is just 18 years old but Detroit traded him not long after selecting him.
Detroit Pistons 2023/24 season preview
The Detroit Pistons do not have a competitive on-paper team heading into the 2023/24 NBA season. Cade Cunningham showed some statistical improvements last season but he is a question mark because he missed 70 games last year. Bojan Bogdanovic is one of their more talented players, however, he is also in his mid-30s now. If anything is to be expected from him, it would be a decline in performance.
There is not a single player on Detroit that you would point to and state “There’s a probable All-Star.” Accordingly, Detroit would overachieve if they made the play-in tournament.
Conversely, the Pistons do have nine players signed under the age of 25. If they get some surprising growth, then their upper potential could be viewed as a middle power.
Current Detroit Pistons Players Under Contract
- Cade Cunningham
- James Wiseman
- Bojan Bogdanovic
- Marvin Bagley III
- Jaden Ivey
- Alec Burks
- Killian Hayes
- Jalen Duren
- Isaiah Stewart
- Isaiah Livers
- Eugene Omoruyi
- Stanley Umude
Key Detroit Pistons Free Agency Players 2023
The Detroit Pistons do not have any significant free agents at the moment.
Previous Detroit Pistons Draft Selections Since 2000
Year Round Pick Player Pos Age Pre-Draft Team
2023 1 5 Ausar Thompson G/F 20 Overtime Elite
2023 2 31 James Nnaji C 18 FC Barcelona
2022 1 5 Jaden Ivey PG 20 Purdue
2021 1 1 Cade Cunningham PG 19 Oklahoma State
2020 1 7 Killian Hayes S 19 Ratiopharm Ulm (Ger)
2019 1 15 Sekou Doumbouya F 18 CSP Limoges
2019 2 45 Isaiah Roby SF 21 Nebraska
2018 2 42 Bruce Brown Jr SG 21 Miami (Fl)
2017 1 12 Luke Kennard SG 20 Duke
2016 1 18 Henry Ellenson PF 19 Marquette
2016 2 49 Michael P Gbinije SF 24 Syracuse
2015 1 8 Stanley Johnson G 19 Arizona
2015 2 38 Darun Hilliard SG 22 Villanova
2014 2 38 Spencer Dinwiddie PG 21 Colorado
2013 1 8 K Caldwell-Pope SG 20 Georgia
2013 2 37 Tony Mitchell F 21 North Texas
2013 2 56 Peyton Siva PG 22 Louisville
2012 1 9 Andre Drummond C 18 Connecticut
2012 2 39 Khris Middleton SF 20 Texas A&M
2012 2 44 Kim English SG 23 Missouri
2011 1 8 Brandon Knight G 19 Kentucky
2011 2 33 Kyle Singler F 24 Florida
2010 1 7 Greg Monroe FC 20 Georgetown
2010 2 36 Terrico White G 20 Ole Miss
2009 1 15 Austin Daye F 21 Gonzaga
2009 2 39 Jonas Jerebko F 22 Edilnol Pallacanestro
2009 2 44 Chase Budinger GF 21 Arizona
2008 1 29 D J White PF 21 Indiana
2008 2 59 Deron Washington GF 22 Virginia Tech
2007 1 15 Rodney Stuckey G 21 Eastern Washington
2007 1 27 Arron Afflalo SG 21 UCLA
2007 2 57 Sammy Mejia SF 24 DePaul
2006 1 60 Will Blalock G 22 Iowa State
2005 1 26 Jason Maxiell PF 22 Cincinatti
2005 2 56 Amir Johnson PF 18 Westchester High School
2005 2 60 Alex Acker SG 22 Pepperdine
2004 2 54 Ricky Paulding SF 21 Missouri
2003 1 2 Darki Milicic FC 18 KK Vrsac Swisslion
2003 1 25 Carlos Delfino SG 20 Fortituto Kontatto
2003 2 58 Andreas Glyniadakis C 21 Olympiacos (Greece)
2002 1 23 Tayshaun Prince F 22 Kentucky
2001 1 9 Rodney White F 20 Charlotte
2001 2 37 Mehmoet Okur FC 22 Anadolu Efes (Turkey)
2000 1 14 Mateen Cleaves G 22 Michigan State
2000 2 44 Brian Cardinal PF 23 Purdue
Detroit Pistons Draft Picks FAQs
What happened to Cade Cunningham in 2022/23?
Cade Cunningham only appeared in 12 games in the 2022/23 NBA season. He underwent surgery on his left shin in December 2022 and has been recovering from that. The team recently announced that they expect Cunningham to be ready for training camp.