Even the most overly optimistic Detroit Pistons fan likely cannot see a way for the team to win the NBA title. But for the ambitious sports bettors looking for long odds in hopes of a miracle, then the Pistons would be a fitting choice.
Detroit is tied with the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks for the longest odds to win the NBA title on DraftKings Sportsbook at +40000. A $1 bet winning ticket on either of those teams would net $400.
To win the Eastern Conference, Detroit is at +20000 and had +15000 odds to win the Central Division. And to make the postseason, the Pistons are +800.
With the NBA season condensed to 72 games from the traditional 82, sportsbooks are using team win percentage instead of team win totals for each team’s over/under. Detroit’s over/under win percentage is set at 32.5 with -113 odds on the over and -110 on the under.
The Pistons host their first preseason game against the New York Knicks Friday night.
Michigan is expected to launch its online sports betting and online casino markets in early to mid-January. On Thursday, the Michigan Gaming Control Board announced it had approved provisional licenses for 15 operators.
What direction is Detroit headed?
Detroit revamped its front office with the hire of Troy Weaver as the team’s new general manager. But after an offseason that included a draft and free agency signing period, it remains unclear what direction the franchise is taking.
The Pistons started their rebuild by trading three of their best young players, including Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard and Christian Wood and did not receive any standout prospects in return. They traded Wood — who became the team’s best player once Andre Drummond was traded and was coming off a respectable 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game — and a future first round pick for Trevor Ariza — who they would move in a trade to acquire Delon Wright — and a first-round pick in this year’s draft.
To replace Wood, Detroit signed Mason Plumlee to a three-year deal worth $25 million. Plumlee is nothing more than a decent frontcourt defender with a limited offensive game. If the Pistons are targeting a rebuild, why send out the 24-year-old Wood for the 32-year-old Plumlee?
The Pistons are also relying on Jerami Grant, a forward more known for being a defensive stopper on the perimeter than an offensive force, succeeding with a larger offensive role than he had in Denver. In six years, Grant has only averaged double figures in two seasons.
But the Pistons’ draft moves hinted at a rebuild. The team acquired two more picks in the first round of this year’s draft to give it three in the top 20, headlined by the No. 7 overall pick, Killian Hayes.
Hayes has the chance to have the most impact of the three rookies and will likely have an immediate spot in Detroit’s backcourt rotation. Between Derrick Rose, Hayes and Wright, the Pistons will have someone on the floor who can create for the team’s offense.
The No. 19 pick, Saddiq Bey, could turn into a decent three-and-D perimeter forward for the Pistons, but it will remain to be seen if he can create his own shot against NBA defenses. The same goes for Isiah Stewart, who the Pistons traded up for at No. 16. Stewart thrived on overpowering college defenders by utilizing his athleticism. He will have to develop a more well-rounded offensive game in order to score against bigger and faster NBA frontcourts.
If Detroit’s three rookies can contribute right away and make gains in their first season, relegating the veterans to the bench, then a rebuild for Detroit will make sense. But if they struggle and the older players are left to play the majority of the minutes as the team languishes at the bottom of the standings, Detroit fans may question what exactly the goal of the franchise is.
Status of Blake Griffin
Whether Detroit battles for a playoff spot or tanks for the chance at another high draft pick may depend on the health of Blake Griffin. Last season Griffin played just 18 games as he battled a knee injury that made him look like a shell of his former self. It was a stark contrast to the 2018-19 season when he averaged 24.5 points and 7.5 rebounds and led the Pistons to a playoff appearance.
Griffin has successfully transformed his game as his career has transpired, going from a high-flying dunker for the Los Angeles Clippers into a ball-handling forward who can facilitate the offense, shoot 3s and attack downhill from the perimeter.
If Griffin can avoid the knee troubles of the past and regain his all-star form, the Pistons will be more competitive early on, and it could raise his value at the trade deadline. A decent haul for Griffin could accelerate the Pistons’ rebuild, which would be the best-case scenario for the team this season.