Between 1987 and 1990, the Detroit Pistons were led by Hall of Famers Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Adrian Dantley, and Dennis Rodman. Those three years also featured two other NBA legends with Bill Laimbeer and Mark Aguirre. In total, it was one of the greatest three seasons in NBA history and was easily the Detroit Pistons greatest roster as they went to three consecutive NBA Finals, winning two of them in back-to-back seasons.
It did not take long for that team to split up, ending the Pistons dominance in the Eastern Conference, just in time for the Chicago Bulls to take over. The Pistons would not return to the NBA Finals until the 2003-04 season when they won 54 games during the regular season, their third straight 50+ win season, en route to the franchises third NBA Finals Championship. Their lineup that season included Ben Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, and US Olympic Gold medalist Tayshaun Prince.
They returned to the Finals the following season, in 2005, but lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. It seemed as though this team would eventually get back to the Finals but they failed to do so after having spent three consecutive seasons losing in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In celebration of their 2003-04 NBA Finals Championship, let's go ahead and look at the 10 best, and also the 10 worst players, that have played for the Detroit Pistons since that 2004 title season.
20 Worst: Dale Davis, C
When a franchise finds success over a few years, they end up landing some of the league's veteran stars hoping to latch on for one last title run. The Detroit Pistons established themselves as an annual NBA Title contender following their 2004 NBA Championship, making them a prime candidate for players such as Dale Davis, who was one of the best Power Forwards in Indiana Pacers history before 2000. He ended up in Portland, Golden State, and then back in Indiana before finally getting a two-year shot with the Detroit Pistons in 2005 and 2006.
But, as you will learn, the veterans of the league are usually the ones that end up producing very little towards the teams overall success and become more of a bench warming attraction than anything else.
19 Best: Brandon Jennings, PG
In high school, Brandon Jennings earned a reputation as one of the nation's best scorer's. He committed to play for the University of Arizona but wanted to make the jump straight to the NBA so, because of the NBA rule that a player must be 19-years old and one year removed from high school, he decided to play in Italy for one year before he went pro. When he became eligible to be drafted, he returned to the NBA and was selected 10th overall in 2009 by the Milwaukee Bucks.
He was later traded to the Detroit Pistons for Brandon Knight, Viacheslav Kravtsov, and Khris Middleton but failed to reach his scoring potential and only averaged 14.1 points, 6.6 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per game during a three year span. He played 169 games for the Pistons before he was dealt to the Orlando Magic. But even with the struggling, he was still one of their best players over the past ten years because of his ability to score from anywhere on the court.
18 Worst: Darrun Hilliard, SG
Darrun Hilliard turned into the leader of the Villanova University men's basketball team during his Sophomore season when he averaged 11.4 points, helping them establish something that would continue through the next few years, leading to an eventual National Title, the year after Darrun Hilliard already graduated. During his Junior and Senior seasons, Hilliard averaged 14.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.6 blocks per game while going 62-8 and making the Sweet 16 both times.
His collegiate performance led to his name being called during the 2015 NBA Draft when the Detroit Pistons picked him in the second round, 38th overall. It might be a little too early to say that he is one of the worst but based on his first 64 games in the league, chances are things might not get much better for Darrun Hilliard in Detroit. He might end up better off playing somewhere else, where he can really open up his game and stick to what he is best at doing, scoring.
17 Best: Allen Iverson, PG
The Philadelphia 76ers traded away Allen Iverson to the Denver Nuggets, leading to a future of disappointment and heartbreak for 76ers fans. He spent a few years in Colorado before heading to Detroit for 54 games during the 2008-09 season after the Nuggets traded him away also.
In those 54 games, he started 50 of them and eventually became the team's starting Point Guard while averaging 17.4 points, second best on the team. He also wound up leading the team in assists, with 4.9, and steals, with 1.6 per game. He was a big part of their regular season but failed to get them past LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first round of the playoffs and would eventually leave the following season.
16 Worst: Carlos Delfino, SG/SF
The 2004 Argentina Men's basketball team shocked the World and walked away with the Olympic Gold medal becoming the only country besides the United States to win an Olympic Gold medal since 1988 when the Soviet Union won it. The '04 Argentina Men's team featured Manu Ginobili, Luis Scola, Andres Nocioni, and Carlos Delfino (#10). Each one of those men turned their Gold medal into a NBA career that long after. Carlos Delfino was one of the few men that earned himself a NBA contract before the 2004 Olympics when the Detroit Pistons selected him 25th overall, during the 2003 NBA Draft.
However, because of a knee injury, Carlos Delfino was never much of a star with the Pistons and did not play a single game until his second year in the league. His time in Detroit was not all that great. He played in 180 games, starting in just six, while averaging 4.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, and just under one assist per game. He did not turn into much of a contributor until much later on when he ended up in Milwaukee.
15 Best: Tobias Harris, SF/PF
Tobias Harris has been around since 2011 when he was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats, who then traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks, in the first round of the draft, 19th overall, out of the University of Tennessee where he played just one season and averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. He is only 23-years old now and continues to improve his game, finally finding a home that he can perform with in Detroit. He has finally started to turn into a stud at the Forward position, averaging 16.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game with the Pistons.
This season alone, Tobias as emerged as one of their stars and is leading a Detroit offense that is ranked 4th in scoring, field goal attempts, and three-point attempts while walking a fine line between the 8th and 9th spots in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
14 Worst: Lindsey Hunter, PG/SG
The Detroit Pistons fans might argue this selection but we see things from an outsider's perspective and have the breakdown. Lindsey Hunter spent 703 of his 937 career games with the Detroit Pistons where he averaged 9 points, 2.9 assists, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game over 12 seasons. He actually spent his first seven seasons in the NBA with the Pistons before playing in three other cities, then returning to the Pistons for another five years.
For a man that spent 12 years as a starter and backup Point Guard, Lindsey Hunter failed to make much of an offensive impact, he was more of a defensive stud that slowly got worse over time. So although the Pistons fans love him for his longevity with the team, he just did not seem to make much of a difference. He ended up winning a NBA Title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 before winning another one in Detroit in 2004.
13 Best: Reggie Jackson, PG
After progressing into the Oklahoma City Thunder's starting Point Guard, Reggie Jackson wound up becoming one of the league's most sought after PG's resulting in his current multi-year deal he signed in 2015 with the Detroit Pistons. The entire contract is valued at five-years, $80 million.
Since arriving in Detroit, Reggie has turned into one of the team's best scorers, averaging 18 points and 6.7 assists per game. Last year, he averaged 18.8 points per game before leveling off in 2017 thanks to the team's increased firepower across the board. His ability to spread the floor and run the offense opens up a lot of options for the Pistons, as evident by his production over the past three seasons.
12 Worst: Will Blalock, PG
After exploding onto the scene during the 2005-06 NCAA basketball season, Will Blalock declared for the NBA Draft after his junior year with the Iowa State Cyclones where he erupted for 15.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 2.2 rebounds per game. Although they did not end up winning a ton of games or making the NCAA tournament, his production was good enough to land a job with the Detroit Pistons after they drafted him with the very last pick of the 2006 NBA Draft.
Sadly, however, Will Blalock played in only 14 games, averaging about 11.9 minutes per game, before being sent to the NBA's D-League for a season. He would then go play in Europe, where he played for the Hapoel Jerusalem, Artland Dragons, Townsville Crocodiles, and Huracanes del Atlantico.
11 Best: Greg Monroe, C
In his second year with the Milwaukee Bucks, Greg Monroe looks like he made a bad decision signing with them in July of 2015 for three-years, $50 million. When he was with the Detroit Pistons, however, he had a great thing going on with his partner-in-crime, Andre Drummond. They complemented each other, although Andre was slowly separating himself from the rest, and it led them to become the most dangerous frontcourt duo in the NBA.
While with the Pistons, Greg Monroe averaged 14.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. But when Andre Drummond started to excel well beyond Greg Monroe, and Greg was moved to Power Forward, it was not long before he headed out of town to become a star again. Sadly though, he has turned himself into a sixth man, not ever having started a single game this season. He has had some incredible performances this year including a huge performance not long ago, so he might return to Detroit one day and ask for forgiveness, but we shall see.
10 Worst: Primoz Brezec, C
How does a man spend nine seasons in the NBA without averaging better than 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game? Primoz Brezec can answer that having spent most of his career coming off the bench except for his time with the Charlotte Bobcats, where he started 209 games over three seasons. His performance with the Bobcats helped him shine for just long enough to become a hot commodity in the league.
He would eventually be traded from Charlotte to Detroit Pistons. However, the 7'1" Slovenian baller could not fit in and became trade bait after just 17 games while averaging 1.6 points, 1.1 rebounds, and just about 0.4 blocks per game. For being such an alleged star Center, he really has troubles doing the simple things like rebounding and defending, in general. He ended up being traded again and his numbers continued to decline until he would eventually leave the league and become a European star once again.
9 Best: Tayshaun Prince, SF
Tayshaun Prince was one of those special talents that does not come around very often. He is tall, standing at 6'9", and skinny, weighing only 212 pounds, with the strength to get to the hoop and drive down the paint. His size fooled a lot of players into misjudging how to defend him. The Detroit Pistons knew what they had from day one and he ended up playing for the Pistons for 12 seasons.
During his rookie season, he managed just a few minutes per game, 10.4, and only averaged around three points per game. But in the 2003-04 Championship season, he ended up seeing an increase in minutes per game and with that, also came the increase in scoring. This continued until he maxed out during the 2004-05 season at about 14 points per game. He would stay around that average for another eight seasons before beginning to decline in all categories. He contributed all around too, averaging 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game with the Detroit Pistons.
8 Worst: Joel Anthony, C
For seven years, Joel Anthony kept the Miami Heat fully staffed and was used mainly to eat up minutes while players like Udonis Haslem and Chris Bosh needed some rest. He ended up starting 110 games for the Heat while only averaging 16.4 minutes per game during that time. He would start games and then be replaced shortly after, only making a few more appearances throughout the rest of the game, when needed.
When he got to Detroit, Joel was almost completely finished with the NBA, averaging just 7.4 minutes per game, which in NBA terms is the same as not playing much at all. He was a benchwarmer that played two years for the Pistons but only got into 68 games. When he did manage to get in, he averaged 1.5 points, 1.7 rebounds, and just under one block per game. Much like a lot of the other bad players on this list, he was barely remembered as a Detroit Piston.
7 Best: Richard Hamilton, SG
Richard "Rip" Hamilton entered the NBA as the sharp-shooting two-spot player from the University of Connecticut where he was named the Big East Player of the Year twice and led the Huskies to a National Championship in 1999. He was tough to guard and even harder to score against thanks to his savvy defense. He was drafted by the Washington Wizards and later ended up joining the Detroit Pistons to form their tough-nosed lineup of Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace.
He rounded out the perfect starting five to counter just about any type of offense being thrown against the Pistons. He shined for several seasons with Detroit and from 2003 until 2011, was one of their best scorers, averaging 18.4 points per game while adding 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists too. His dominance led to three All-Star game appearances and a NBA Title.
6 Worst: Walter Herrmann, SF/PF
You might not remember the 6'9" Forward that was a member of the 2004 Gold medal Argentina Men's basketball team and that is a good reason why he is so high on the list, as one of the worst Detroit Pistons players since 2004.
Walter was originally drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats and played there for two seasons before being traded to the Detroit Pistons in 2007. He got a reputation following his rookie season in Liga ACB, in Spain, when he averaged 22.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game during the 2002-03 season. He never reached anywhere close to those numbers in Detroit and in just two seasons, he barely managed to earn the jersey on his back, averaging 3.6 points and 1.7 rebounds per game. His second season with Detroit marked his final year in the NBA. He headed back to Spain to play for the Caja Laboral.
5 Best: Andre Drummond, C
The future for the Detroit Pistons relies on the success of their young roster, led by one of the NBA's best Centers, Andre Drummond. Andre played one season with the University of Connecticut Huskies before making the leap to the NBA in 2012. He became the Detroit Pistons ninth overall selection that year and has become as tough defensively as he is on offense. He averages 13.4 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game, proving that the Pistons got more than what they bargained for in 2012.
As he continues to mature, he has improved in several areas including his passing and stealing. He has increased his assists and steals per game averages each season. At just 23-years old, the Detroit Pistons have locked him down for another five years last summer when they offered him $130 million dollars. He was the second youngest player in league history to reach 4,000 rebounds when he reached that goal earlier this season.
4 Worst: Derrick Coleman, F/C
The only reason Derrick Coleman is going down as the worst Detroit Pistons player since the 2004 NBA title year, is because he was almost useless during the 2004-05 season after the Philadelphia 76ers traded him to the Detroit Pistons. He managed to play in just five games that year and, at the age of 37-years old, turned out to be the final five games of his illustrious NBA career. He retired the following season.
For five games, however, he did play an average of ten minutes per game and average 1.8 points and 3.0 rebounds. He shot horribly, making only three of the 14 shots he took during that short time. If he was hoping to find himself winning a NBA title, he did not get the chance and was released almost as quickly as they traded for him.
3 Best: Ben Wallace, C
Dennis Rodman was once a member of the Detroit Pistons, where he excelled on the defensive side of the ball while averaging 8.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game and in his final two seasons in Detroit, he averaged 18.5 rebounds per game. But he was never as good as Ben Wallace, who just might be the greatest all-around defender that the Detroit Pistons have ever seen. He single-handily led the Detroit Pistons on the defensive side of the ball from 2000 until 2006.
For the six seasons he spent in Detroit the first time around, he was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year four times, named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times, earned All-Star honors four times, and was a five-time member of the All-NBA team. His dominance earned him plenty of honors with Detroit including becoming their all-time leader in blocks and having his No.3 jersey number retired.
2 Worst: Darko Milicic, C
The 2003-04 NBA Draft featured four future Hall of Famers in the first five picks with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade all being selected in the top-five. The one person that remains off that list is Darko Milicic, who was supposed to be the future for the sport but turned out to be one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history because he was selected by the Detroit Pistons, who failed to use him more than five to seven minutes per game for the first two years in the league.
The Pistons only had this pick after a trade that dated back to 1997 when they sent Otis Thorpe to the Vancouver Grizzlies. They were already a league favorite to reach the NBA Finals for the 2003-04 season, regardless of who they drafted. So they did not use him much, if at all, because they wanted the 18-year old European to progress slowly, and not just throw him out there to screw up their already successful lineup. This turned into a bad relationship and before long, he was traded away.
1 Best: Chauncey Billups, PG
The Detroit Pistons have had some incredible Guards in their history dating back to the Fort Wayne years, during the early part of the NBA. Joe Dumars, Dave Bing, Gene Shue, Jimmy Walker, and Isiah Thomas are all a part of that history. But of these men, only two of them matched the franchise averages of Chauncey Billups, who averaged 16.4 points, 6.8 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.1 steals per game.
Besides being a great scoring Point Guard, Chauncey Billups was just as important to the Pistons on the defensive side where he excelled for many years, turning into one of the league's best defensive guards. It led to multiple All-Defensive team awards in multiple years, 2005 and 2006, and five All-Star game appearances. He has since had his No.1 jersey retired by Detroit in honor of his many years running their offense and leading them to the 2004 NBA Title.
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