The Detroit Pistons have gotten off to a rough start to the season and are the NBA’s only winless team with an 0-4 record.
After one of the worst two-year stretches in franchise history, there was some hope they would be able to come out strong in their efforts to restore themselves to their former glory. Then first overall pick Cade Cunningham suffered a sprained ankle in training camp, which kept him out of the preseason and at least the first four games of the regular season.
The Detroit Pistons are the NBA’s only winless team after four games, and it hasn’t been pretty. Does this bad start already impact their season outlook?
Cunningham is the future of the Pistons organization, so it’s been a rough go for the team to struggle and to do so without getting to see their new young star. There’s hope that he may be able to return on Saturday against the Orlando Magic, but there are no guarantees that he’ll play.
So after going 0-4 to start the season, how much does this really impact their chances of putting together an improved 2021-22 campaign?
For better or worse, the Pistons have played a tough schedule to start the season without Cunningham. They’ve faced the greatly improved Chicago Bulls twice, the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers to start the year, and with or without Cunningham, they were unlikely to win any of these games.
Using FiveThirtyEight’s predictive model, the Pistons were expected to win their season opener against Chicago just 44 percent of the time, while they were only 24 percent to win their rematch. They were expected to win only 11 percent of the time against the Atlanta Hawks, and just 13 percent against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Regardless of Cade Cunningham’s early-season status, it’s not likely they were going to make up the gap against these superior teams. Since they probably lose these four games most of the time any way you cut it, the Pistons haven’t really been set back in their goals for the year.
Where they can really make their mark is against the lesser-thans in the NBA, taking advantage of other rebuilding teams, like the Orlando Magic, who they’ll be facing on Saturday in what will hopefully be Cunnigham’s debut. There are lessons the Pistons can learn from playing the best teams in the NBA, like the murderer’s row they’ve just faced and will face after Orlando (the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets, to name a couple), but those games aren’t built to be Piston wins.
The time for stealing wins against better teams will eventually come, but these young Pistons aren’t there yet. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t end up overachieving when all is said and done.