The Quick Hit: For years, almost everything Joe Dumars touched turned to gold.
After all, the Hall of Fame shooting guard turned General Manager built the Detroit Pistons into a perennial contender, model franchise, and World Champion by giving underappreciated players an opportunity.
Betting on those with something to prove paid off handsomely: Chauncey Billups developed into an elite point guard, All-Star, and Finals MVP; Rip Hamilton went from good in Washington to great in Detroit; Ben Wallace won Defensive Player of the Year multiple times; Tayshaun Prince became a respected glue-guy, contributing on both ends of the floor; and Rasheed Wallace silenced his critics by keeping his mouth quiet just long enough for his play to do the talking.
Very quickly, Dumars’ golden creation has morphed into coal. And those 50 win seasons are gone, replaced with annual trips to the draft lottery in New Jersey.
Dumars, however, has nobody to blame but himself for the club’s rapid decline.
Ironically, his big mistake was under-appreciating the underappreciated. In November of 2008, Dumars, believing Detroit’s run was over, traded Billups to the Denver Nuggets for Allen Iverson and his expiring contract.
Dumars prematurely broke up a team still capable of 50 wins. He traded an MVP candidate in Billups, who has since turned Denver into a contender. And instead of saving the cap space from Iverson’s expiring contract for this summer’s elite free agents, he overpaid mediocre talent like Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
Gordon and Villanueva have struggled, but they have company. Hamilton has had moments, but, like Prince, health has been an issue. Will Bynum and Rodney Stuckey, Billups’ replacements, are talented -and inconsistent. And collectively, the hunger that was so synonymous with the Pistons, that desire to prove the doubters wrong, has disappeared.
For instance, tonight the aging Boston Celtics routed Detroit. Even against a hated rival like the green-and-white, they played little defense, offered zero resistance, and seemed distracted by thoughts of the off season.
This calamity is on Dumars. For the sake of the Pistons, he must regain his golden touch –and fast.
Is Dumars responsible for the end of Deeeeetroit Basketball? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts. Photo courtesy of DTezz.