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An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hamilton out for Wednesday

Richard Hamilton will miss Wednesday’s game against the Heat with a right ankle injury. The Pistons will start Will Bynum at the point and Rodney Stuckey at shooting guard with Hamilton out.

Ben Wallace will be a game-time decision according to Pistons coach John Kuester after he practiced on Tuesday. Wallace would come off the bench if he is able to play.

Chris Wilcox (hamstring) remains out.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hamilton questionable for Wednesday

Pistons guard Richard Hamilton is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game against the Heat with a right ankle sprain. Hamilton suffered the injury in the loss to Chicago Sunday when Jason Maxiell stepped on his foot. The injury is unrelated to the ankle injury he suffered at the beginning of the season.

Rodney Stuckey (ankle) practiced Tuesday and is expected to play Wednesday. Ben Wallace (knees) is listed as day-to-day, but it's doubtful he will play Wednesday.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pistons Charlie Villanueva sits second half of loss to Bulls

The ups and downs of a disappointing 2009-10 season continue for Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva.

Villanueva came into Sunday night’s game having scored in double figures in four of his last five games, averaging 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds in nearly 19 minutes per game.

But Villanueva played just five minutes in Detroit’s 110-103 loss to the Bulls Sunday and didn’t play at all in the second half.

When asked why Villanueva didn’t play in the second half, Pistons coach John Kuester didn’t have much to say.

“Just some of the young guys, give them an opportunity too,” Kuester said.

Villanueva is averaging 12.0 points and 4.8 rebounds this season, both down from last season when he averaged a career-high 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds.

He has battled several injuries this season, including a broken nose, back spasms and plantar fasciitis, but has missed just three games.

“I give Charlie a lot of credit for staying with it, because of all the guys, in terms of injuries, he’s probably missed the fewest games,” Pistons president Joe Dumars told “A lot of nights, Charlie’s been hurting out there. He’s laboring up and down the court, yet he’s staying out on the floor.

“From that standpoint, just the fact the guy was hurting, that plantar fasciitis, you’ve seen guys shut it down with that. The fact he stayed out there a lot of nights when he probably shouldn’t have been playing, I give him a lot of credit for that.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A look at the NBA Draft lottery battle

The question I get asked the most by Pistons fans these days is where do I think the Pistons will end up picking in the NBA Draft and who will they select? Figuring out who they will select has a lot of variables, the most important being where the Pistons pick so I'll leave that for a later date. But where the Pistons are likely to pick is starting to get more clear. Let's take a look at where the Pistons will likely pick as the battle for the ping-pong balls heats up in the final few weeks of the regular season.

New Jersey and Minnesota have locked up the two worst records in the league so I won't even discuss them. Just pencil them in as the two worst teams.

Golden State (20-52, entering Sunday night) is the favorite for the third worst record. The Warriors have six of their final nine games on the road, where they are 4-30 this season. Two of Golden State’s three home games are against playoff teams in Utah and Oklahoma City. Don’t be shocked if the Warriors win just one more game or lose out, preventing Don Nelson from becoming the NBA’s all-time winningest coach.
Predicted finish: 21-61, 15.6 percent chance of winning No. 1 overall pick

Washington (21-51) has lost 15 straight and likely won’t win more than three games the rest of the season. The Wizards have road games at Houston, New Orleans, Orlando, Boston and New York, which are all likely losses. Washington has winnable home games against New Jersey and Golden State, but the Wizards could easily loss those games with the way they are playing right now.
Predicted finish: 23-59, 11.9 percent chance

Detroit (23-50) has lost eight straight and it’s hard to find many wins in their nine remaining games. The Pistons remaining four home games are against teams likely to make the playoffs (Miami, Phoenix, Atlanta and Toronto). Games at Philadelphia and Minnesota are winnable, but Detroit is just 7-29 on the road this season. Anything can happen, but with the way the Pistons have been playing defensively lately, two wins appears optimistic.
Predicted finish: 25-57, 8.8 percent chance

Sacramento (24-50) is the team most likely to overtake the Pistons for the fifth worst record. The Kings have road games at Indiana and Minnesota before five straight at home. But Sacramento host the likes of Portland, San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and the Clippers before ending the season on the road against the Lakers. Can’t see the Kings winning more than three games with that schedule.
Predicted finish: 27-55, 6.3 percent chance

Philadelphia (26-47) appears to be one of the only teams in this group with a pulse. The 76ers have won two straight and over playoff teams in Milwaukee and Atlanta. Philadelphia has a tough schedule with Detroit and Toronto the only teams on its schedule with a losing record and the Raptors are fighting for the final playoff spot in the East. The 76ers recent success aside, it will be tough for them to win three games.
Predicted finish: 28-54, 4.3 percent chance

Don’t count out the Knicks (26-46), Pacers (27-47) and Clippers (27-45, entering Sunday night) from slipping up in the Draft Lottery, but it’s unlikely the Pistons will finish ahead of any of these teams.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kuester hopes to have Stuckey back soon

AUBURN HILLS — Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey could be back in the lineup as soon as Friday.

Stuckey was cleared to “return to a progressive exercise program” on March 10 and could be cleared practice as soon as Thursday.

“Stuckey will hopefully be given the freedom to practice and hopefully we’ll get him back soon,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “It’s sort of day-to-day still with him.

“Hopefully we’ll get a full practice in on Thursday.”

If everything goes well on Thursday then Kuester said there's a chance Stuckey will be in the lineup on Friday when the Pistons play at Indiana.

“Hopefully, we’re playing that by ear,” Kuester said.

Stuckey has missed the Pistons last six games after he collapsed during the Pistons game at Cleveland on March 5.

He went through a series of tests, including a complete cardiac evaluation by three different doctors at three different hosptials, which all came back negative.

Prior to the incident, Stuckey started the Pistons first 62 games, averaging 17.1 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds, all career-highs.

Entering Tuesday night’s game at Cleveland, the Pistons were 2-4 with Stuckey sidelined.

Friday, March 12, 2010

RealGM blasts Pistons roster

Christopher Reina of had some strong criticism of the Detroit Pistons organization in his recent article.

“At least on paper, the Pistons have the least talented team in the league, which is a problem compounded by where they are in terms of payroll,” Reina wrote.

When Reina says paper he is referring to John Hollinger’s player efficiency rating (PER) — which is a rating of a player’s per-minute productivity — and the Floor Impact Counter (FIC), which is a formula used by uses to help determine how a player is performing in relation to their contract also known as the Reina Value.

The formulas are complex and somewhat confusing, but there are people who swear by them.

Rodney Stuckey has been the Pistons highest rated PER performer at 105th in the entire NBA as of Wednesday when Reina wrote his story.

The Pistons Reina Value’s are not much better and are as follows:

Player, Season FIC Rank, Reina Value
Ben Wallace, 50th, +1,208%
Rodney Stuckey, 72nd, +403%
Jonas Jerekbo, 131st, +1047%
Charlie Villanueva, 147th, -27%
Richard Hamilton, 194th, -71%
Jason Maxiell, 196th, -36%
Tayshaun Prince, 198th, -70%
Will Bynum, 209th, +253%
Chris Wilcox, 295th, -56%
Kwame Brown, 299th, -68%

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Villanueva says Nike Hyperizes not banned

There were multiple reports that Pistons trainer Arnie Kander had banned Nike Hyperizes as a result of all the Pistons ankles injuries early in the season. Piston forward Charlie Villanueva said that's not the case.

"I read on @solecollector, Pistons banned Nike Hyperizes sneakers cuz ... it contributed to the ankle injuries we've had. Are u kidding me???" Villanueva wrote on his Twitter page.

First off I still rock my Nike Hyperizes, I love them! I've yet to had any problems whatsoever; ankle injury can happen to anyone at anytime."

The Nike Hyperizes are good money, trust me. Like the great MJ once told Mars Blackmon ... 'it's not the shoes mars'. LOL"

Looks like the reports were wrong or Villanueva is not heading Kander's advice and still wearing the "glorified moccasins."

Billups has harsh words for Pistons organization

Former Piston Chauncey Billups had some harsh words for his former team in an article on about Detroit’s fall from the NBA’s elite.

“I don't think they (Pistons brass) ever thought that I would have done what I’ve done nor they do what they’ve done,'' Billups said, who has made two All-Star teams as Nugget and lead the team to last season’s Western Conference finals. “I don’t think they ever thought that.”

Billups believes when he was with the Pistons the team represented the city of Detroit well, but that is no longer the case now.

“When I was there, we embodied the city of Detroit,” Billups said. “Tough and rugged, like blue collar. Our team embodied that so the city got behind us. And that’s how we played. We hung our hat on stopping teams and offense just kind of happened. We had great players. You just don’t see that same commitment. You don't see that desire with the team they have right now.”

Billups did admit the move to Denver helped re-light a fire in him that may have went out towards the end of his days in Detroit.

“It was a great move for me because it really rejuvenated me,” Billups said. “It gave me a chip on my shoulder that I probably lost in Detroit because we were just so good. I kind of got a little stagnant. It gave me a reason to be able to show me that I’m still me. I can still play at a very high level.”

Billups did wish his former teammates Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince well and thought they might benefit from a change like he did.

“I do feel bad for them. You never know what can happen,” Billups said. “You hope they have the chance to win another championship. I don’t know if they could do it (in Detroit) or not. But, right now, it’s just not looking good.”

The article from some strange reason also quotes former Piston Darvin Ham, now an assistant coach for the D-League’s Albuquerque Thunder. Ham was not kind to his former team either.

“Everybody talked about our team like we were a bunch of castoffs because we never had a big high-profile (player), but the reason we came out and kicked (butt) every night is you got guys with a chip on their shoulder who knew what being a Piston meant,” Ham said. “And I think they've kind of lost that.”

It's hard to argue with anything Billups said, but at the same time what would have happend if he stayed with the Pistons? Would they have won another title? Unlikely, unless another trade was made and that somehow rejuvenated Billups.

It was time for Billups and Detroit to part ways, the only problem is both moves since then (Allen Iverson and Ben Gordon) have not panned out. The jury is still out on Gordon, but I don't think he will ever had the impact Billups did.

As far as Darvin Ham, I'm just glad I know what he's up to. Good ole' 'Dunkin' Darvin Ham, wonder what he is teaching those guys in Albuquerque?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stuckey unsure what clearance means

Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey was cleared by three doctors to “return to a progressive exercise program” on Wednesday. What exactly that means is still unclear, even to Stuckey himself.

“Exercise. I don't know. Sweat,” Stuckey said prior to Wednesday’s game against Utah. “I don't know. I don't really know. I don't know what to tell you guys. I haven't talked to Arnie (Kander) or (Mike Abdenour) or those guys about it. But if they said I'm clear to exercise, I’m pretty sure I’m probably clear to practice.”

The complete statement released by the Pistons Wednesday said: “Rodney Stuckey underwent a completely negative cardiac evaluation under the direction of University of Michigan’s (Fred Morady, M.D.), Cleveland Clinic’s (Thomas Dresing, M.D.) and the Detroit Medical Center’s (Luis Alfonso, M.D.).

“The combined opinion is that Rodney may return to a progressive exercise program.”

Pistons coach John Kuester was unsure what exactly the statement meant, but thought it was a good sign.

“You’ve got some of the best doctors in the world and they’ll give us the right answer,” Kuester said. “They’ll tell us what direction to go. If they say don’t play, he won’t play. He’s been cleared to exercise, where that is I don’t know. All that matters right now is he’s coming out of this thing looking good.

"He’s been cleared to do exercises, workout or whatever. We’re have a clearer picture even tomorrow."

Kander and Abdenour will likely paint a clearer picture for Stuckey and Kuester moving forward, but both Kander and Abdenour were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

The biggest question that still remains is what caused this? Stuckey seems to believes whatever caused him to collapse is no longer issue an he is looking to move forward.

“I’m normal man," Stuckey said. "It was just a little freak accident that just happened.”

Does this clearance mean Stuckey will return this season? That’s also still unclear, but he is done taking tests for now and hoping to put this incident behind him.

“I'm done talking about this stuff,” Stuckey said. “I did all the tests. They came back fine. Everything is good. I got cleared. I’m good now.

“I’m good. I feel good. The doctors did a good job. I did every possible test that I could do. Everything came back good. We’ll go from there."

Kuester said he will leave it up to the doctors to make the call on when Stuckey returns, but he is hoping to see his starting point guard back on the court soon.

“I think he’s going to be alright,” Kuester said. “He’s gone through a battery of tests. But I can’t make that call. Am I hoping he does? Yeah, absolutely. The most important thing in this whole process is to make sure he’s OK. Not only from a basketball perspective, but life itself.”

Stuckey cleared for "Progressive exercise program"

The Detroit Pistons released a statement Wednesday regarding the health of Rodney Stuckey. The statement reads as follows:

Rodney Stuckey underwent a completely negative cardiac evaluation under the direction of University of Michigan’s (Fred Morady, M.D.), Cleveland Clinic’s (Thomas Dresing, M.D.) and the Detroit Medical Center’s (Luis Alfonso, M.D.).

The combined opinion is that Rodney may return to a progressive exercise program.

I'm not a doctor, but I'll speculate a return to progressive exercise program means he can return to practice and eventually to games. That's speculation on my part, but I don't know what else it could mean. I'll have more of an update hopefully later today, but it's good news after a scary moment last week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Rodney Stuckey: I'm good

AUBURN HILLS — Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey was back with his teammates on Tuesday, observing practice. His return to basketball is still uncertain, but he said he is feeling good.

“I’m good. Everything’s good,” Stuckey said. “They ran a lot of tests on me. Everything came back good. My heart is good. I’m just taking it day-by-day.”

It’s good news after a scary moment during the Pistons game at Cleveland on March 5 where Stuckey collapsed during a timeout and was taken out of the arena on a stretcher.

He was taken to the Cleveland Clinic where tests came back negative and he was released the next day.

Stuckey underwent more tests once he returned to Michigan and is still awaiting some of the results.

“They took a lot of tests, a lot of blood tests, heart stuff, everything came back good though,” Stuckey said. “Right now, I’m just chilling. They are going to give me the word. They are overlooking all my tests and stuff like that.”

What caused him to collapse is still unclear, but it’s not the first time he has felt something like this. He missed two games last season because he was lightheaded and said his latest episode was similar, but “kind of worse though.”

The cause could also be something as simple as dehydration, something he suffered earlier in the year against New Orleans on Jan. 15.

“I’m hoping that’s just what it is,” Stuckey said. “The doctors are doing a good job. I’m just going to take it day-by-day, whatever I need to do, whatever they want me to do, I’m going to do.”

Stuckey said he doesn’t remember much from the incident other than walking back to the bench and when it happens it’s something that just comes on and he can’t see it coming.

“It just comes on. Luckily ... Arnie (Kander) and those guys were by my side,” Stuckey said.

The range of when Stuckey could possibly return remains up in the air.

Stuckey is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against Utah, although it seems highly unlikely he will play. But at the same time he could possibly be out for the season.

“I don’t know,” Stuckey said when asked if he would return this season. “I just have to talk to the doctors and figure that out.

“Doctors are doing a good job. Whenever I hear back from them, I think you guys will know,” Stuckey added.

If it were up to Stuckey he would likely be playing with his teammates come Wednesday. He said he would feel comfortable returning whenever he was cleared.

“Whenever the doctors tell me I’m ready to play, I’ll be ready.” Stuckey said.

Stuckey received an outpour of support from fans, the Pistons organization and the NBA itself. The day he collapsed, Stuckey’s name was the No. 2 trending topic on Twitter with a vast majority of the posts prayers and thoughts for his well being.

“Just knowing I got a lot of people behind me and support, it’s a good thing,” Stuckey said.

Prior to the incident Stuckey was having a career year. He started all 62 games and averaged a career-high 17.1 points and 5.0 assists.

Rodney Stuckey says it is up to the doctors when he will play again, but he feels good. I'll have more later today.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pistons coach enjoys March Madness

The month of March is always great for basketball fans. Both college basketball and the NBA provide plenty of great moments and memories. There is the conference tournaments and NCAA tournament in college basketball and the playoff push in the NBA.

Count Pistons coach John Kuester among those that love everything that comes with the month of March.

“Whether you’re in the NBA , whether you’re in college or whatever, this is a great month,” Kuester said. “This is a great time of the year. You see teams that are having Cinderella seasons or teams that are having great seasons itself.”

Kuester admitted he doesn't get to watch as much as he would like, which might not be a bad thing considering his alma mater North Carolina is going through one of its toughest seasons in recent memory and suffered an embarrassing 32-point loss at arch-rival Duke on Saturday night. The Tar Heels struggles prompted several media members to give Kuester some playful ribbing before Sunday's game against the Rockets.

“Go ahead and take your hits right now. Take your hits. They will be coming back,” Kuester said in response to the comments. “I’m not going to even comment about last night. It was what is was and give Duke credit, they played awfully well. But I believe in my Heels, always.”

Watching basketball can also have its perks for Kuester, who learned from Larry Brown that every game could have something to offer.

“Some of the things they do, whether it be in college or the NBA, they got some great plays,” Kuester said. “That was one of the things about being with Larry Brown. He watched every college game. He would say, ‘I saw this play that Arkansas-Little Rock ran in the tournament.’ And he'd say, ‘Kue, find that play for me.’ He had a way of watching it.

“There is so many great coaches out there that do some great things. It’s an exciting time for coaches and an exciting time for players.”

Bynum, Maxiell to start for Pistons

The Pistons will turn to Will Bynum as their starting point guard with Rodney Stuckey sidelined indefinitely after collapsing during Friday’s game.

Bynum will be making the second start of his NBA career. Bynum is 1-0 as a starter with his last start being on March 20 last year. He finished with 22 points, six assists and three steals in 44 minutes in a win over the Clippers.

The last time injuries caused Detroit to turn to a different starting point guard, the Pistons went with Chucky Atkins and slid Stuckey over to shooting guard.
This time they are going with Bynum.

“Just to give him an opportunity,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “I think we need to give him a nice look, a chance to play some extended minutes right now. You’re facing ... Aaron Brooks is an outstanding player. You have similar size type, energy type players.”

Jason Maxiell will make his third straight start with Ben Wallace sidelined because of a right patella tendon strain.

Stuckey and Wallace were the only two Pistons to start every game coming into this week.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Wallace doubtful for Sunday

A right patella tendon strain will likely sideline Pistons center Ben Wallace for a third straight game when the Pistons host the Rockets Sunday. Wallace has missed the Pistons last two games with the injury.

“You can say day-to-day, but I don’t think it’s going to be tomorrow,” Pistons coach Kuester said of Wallace’s return after Saturday's practice.

Wallace started all 60 games for the Pistons until suffering the injury in Tuesday's loss at home to Boston. Wallace was injured when the Celtics Paul Pierce had his knee bump into the back of Wallace's knee.

Wallace is averaging 5.3 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals this season.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Flip Camera era has begun

The Oakland Press has made a commitment to producing more videos to help bolster the content on A part of that commitment has been to put flip cameras in the hands of every reporter.

As the Pistons beat writer I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of those flip cams and used it for the first time after last night's Pistons-Celtics games. I recorded interviews with coach John Kuester and guard Ben Gordon. You can view a couple highlights of those interviews along with my game story here.

It was an interesting experience being behind a camera instead of just holding up a tape recorder, but it's one I enjoyed and am looking forward to doing for the remainder of the season.

Due to NBA rules the videos may only remain up for 72 hours and can not last longer than two minutes, but make sure to check them out. I will post videos on here from time to time. It's a new era for The Oakland Press and I for one am excited about it. Let us know what you think.

McHale rips Detroit's signing of Gordon, Villanueva

The Celtics-Pistons game Tuesday night was featured on NBA TV’s Fan Night. Analyst Kevin McHale was not kind when discussing Detroit's signing of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva is the offseason.

“A cautionary tale of all GMs that have a few bucks in their pocket; sometimes its better not to spend it," McHale said. "They spent it on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, two nice players but not players who are going to probably be able to carry your team. They are nice complementary players."

Both Gordon and Villanueva are coming off a horrible month of February and are struggling to get consistent minutes. Not exactly the return on investment the Pistons hoped for. Both were coming off career years last season, but are now regulated to role players off the bench for a bad Detroit team.

Mahorn says team has no identity
Former Piston Rick Mahorn joined the NBA TV broadcast at halftime and was asked what he felt the Pistons are currently missing.

“You put your finger on identity, each team has an identity. What are you known for? Right now, we just don’t have an identity," Mahorn said.

Mahorn is spot on with his assessment. The team has been horrid offensively and ranks among the league's worst in nearly every offensive category. Making matters worse Detroit is nowhere near the defensive powerhouse it once was. What is the team's identity? A lottery bound team in need of an overhaul.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pistons bench struggling

The Pistons bench has become a weakness as of late. As fast at the starting five can build a lead, the bench can blow it.

Detroit’s bench has been outscored by its opponents in six of its last seven games, going 2-5 in that span.

“It’s hard because we are pleased with what’s going on with the first group,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “The second group, we just got to get them to play at a different level for us to continually play well.”

Detroit’s three main offensive weapons off the bench, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva and Will Bynum, are all coming off a horrible month of February.

In February, Gordon averaged just 9.7 points in 22.3 minutes, Villanueva averaged 6.2 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 16.8 minutes and Bynum averaged 5.5 points and 4.1 assists in 18.8 minutes. All numbers well below their season and career averages.

“Getting that second group to play better or keep things at status quo in regards to coming in, sustain the lead or increase the lead, it’s so important to have a second group that does that,” Kuester said.

“That’s where we just need them to try to play better and play through this thing. I know they want to play well. There is no question in my mind. It’s just a matter of all of a sudden the execution isn’t as crisp and teams have taken advantage of us lately.”

Kuester mourns his father
Tuesday’s game against Boston came just a day after the funeral of coach Kuester’s father.

The Pistons head coach missed Monday’s practice, but didn’t miss any games after his father’s death on Feb. 20. Kuester said the games have been a welcome distraction.

“I think it’s healthy for me,” Kuester said. “(Monday) was a great day for my family in regards to celebrating my father who was a wonderful man. I’m very touched by the response of so many people that hit me over the last week or so.”

Jerebko earns rookie of the month
Jonas Jerebko winning the rookie of the month award for February is a result of him winning the respect of the rest of the league according to Kuester.

“This son of a gun can play,” Kuester said. “He is somebody who is gaining the respect of a lot of the teams in the league and his teammates, which is so important.”

Jerebko averaged 10.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 steals and shot 56.4 percent in the month of February. Jerebko is able to get his numbers despite not being a focal point of the Pistons offense.

“He's always going to be up and down because we don’t run plays for him,” Kuester said. “Here’s a guy that gets rookie of the month and we don’t run any plays for him at all. That speaks volumes for a young man like that, to be able to have a player like that who doesn’t demand the basketball but yet by the same token finds a way to score.

“All right, coach, if you ain’t gonna run a play for me, I’m going to find a way to get an offensive rebound. I’m going to do something, spot up, and do other things.’ It’s just been a breath of fresh air to coach him.”

Monday, March 1, 2010

Jerebko named rookie of the month

Pistons forward Jonas Jerebko was named the T-Mobile Eastern Conference rookie of the month for games played in the month of February. New Orleans Darren Collison earned the Western Conference award.

Jerebko averaged 10.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, including 2.8 offensive rebounds, 1.0 steals and shot 56.4 percent from the field in the month of February as the Pistons went 6-7.

NBA Draft lottery thoughts

The Pistons going 1-3 on their West Coast road trip last week is good news for fans hoping to see the team land a high draft pick. Every loss will likely count come NBA Draft lottery time.

The two teams with the highest probability of winning the lottery are all but locked up by New Jersey and Minnesota, while Golden State has a firm grip on the third worst record.

After that things get interesting, 2.5 games separate the fourth worst team (Sacramento) and the ninth worst team (Philadelphia). The fourth worst team gets an 11.9 percent chance of winning the lottery, while nine gets just 1.7 percent. That’s a big difference, especially when you consider teams get three shots at it, with their odds slightly increasing for two and three.

The Pistons currently sit with the seventh worst record, which would give them a 4.3 percent chance of landing the top pick. Detroit is just a game ahead of Sacramento and Indiana, which are tied for the fourth worst record in the NBA. With 23 games left, every win or loss will have an impact.

I don’t believe a team should ever tank games to improve its draft status and I will stand by that. But it will be interesting to see how the Pistons finish and where they will end up in the draft lottery. The Pistons haven’t had a stake in the lottery since they drafted Darko Milicic No. 2 overall in 2003 so no matter what the odds are, anything can happen. Even if you think you struck gold.

Below is a standings of sort for the worst 10 teams in the league.

1. New Jersey —
2. Minnesota — 7 back
3. Golden State — 11.5 back
4. Sacramento — 14 back
5. Indiana — 14 back
6. New York — 14.5 back
7. DETROIT — 15 back
8. Washington — 16 back
9. Philadelphia — 16.5 back
10. L.A. Clippers — 18 back