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Don’t Look Now, But The Pistons Have Competition In The Crapper

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Ausar Thompson #9 of the Detroit Pistons looks on during the game on February 10, 2024 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2024 NBAE (Photo by Tyler Ross/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tyler Ross/NBAE via Getty Images

We all had our snickers, guffaws, and bouts of abdominal cramp when the Detroit Pistons were trying to be the worst team this side of San Marino's national soccer team (one win, 10 draws and 199 defeats, so you don't have to look it up), so it seems only fair in our Super Bowl–powered torpor to point out that the days of the Pistons as national figure of fun are over.

Don't take this to mean that the Pistons are good now; god, no. They still have the worst record in the NBA and just blew up half their roster in a vague and half-hearted attempt to eventually stop being the worst team, especially since being the second-worst team only minimally affects one's chances to get the first draft choice.

But the Diet Pistons have won two of their last three, only losing to the revivified Clippers on the road by six, and haven't been beaten by 20 in a month. Since that delightful 28th consecutive loss they are 6-15, which means they have become merely the Portland Trail Blazers, which is well short of an accomplishment except in the strictly Pistonian sense.

The difference, then, is not that the Pistons have caught up but that the Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards have sufficiently backed up enough to make the “Who’s the worst team?” debate a fun watch between now and season's end. In fact, the Hornets have been so offended by themselves that they've done the one thing the Pistons haven't: They've blown up the decision-making department, easing Mitch Kupchak to the side to find a direction that looks less downward.

While the Pistons have been reveling in their not-so-suckitude, the Hornets have lost 28 of their last 33, including losing streaks of 11, 10 and six, and the Wizards have lost 30 of their last 36, offering the clues to why they always stink (seven playoff series wins since winning the 1978 Finals and the second-worst cumulative record since then).

We could also bring up the San Antonio Spurs here, but while they have lost 23 of their last 31 after last night's potentially coach-firing (Darko Rajakovic; not Gregg Popovich) 23-point win at Toronto, they are more isolated in the Western Conference and already have their future determined and provided by Victor Wembanyama.

The other three are all now within three and a half games of each other, and if we were a better country and embraced promotion and relegation, this would easily be as much fun as trying to keep track of the Northwest Division. More, even, because if your team loses the equivalent of a third of the season in succession and STILL isn't the indisputably worst team, you have a reason for hope you don't really deserve.

We mention this, first, because despair always tastes worse with the illusion of hope, and trying to be the 29th-best team in a field of 30 is all about misplaced hope, and second, because Lions fans probably think their boy Gamblin' Dan would have won the Super Bowl because he would never have let Jake Moody on the field.

So it might all be gravy for the Pistons, even if the stakes are low. If you don't care whether you end up with Alex Sarr or Zaccharie Risacher, you can revel in the prospect of not finishing last when you were doomed to that a month ago. That, and not having to figure out what to do with Jordan Poole.

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