The Pistons appear to be stuck in a holding pattern as far as their standing among their NBA peers, and that's not good.
That's according to ESPN, which on Thursday posted its NBA future power rankings, which takes a look at the projected outlook of all 30 teams over the next three seasons. The Pistons check in at No. 23, after sharing the 23rd spot when the rankings last appeared in March.
"Detroit cannot shake mediocrity, as the Pistons have found a home in the 20s in our rankings," writes Bobby Marks, an NBA front-office insider for ESPN and former assistant general manager with the Nets. "That's despite making the playoffs last season and having All-Star Blake Griffin under contract for the next three seasons."
ESPN's rankings are determined by scoring and ranking each team in five categories: Players, management, money, market and draft. Those scores are averaged, giving each team an overall score (ESPN explains the process here.)
The Pistons' overall score was 46.3, just behind the Chicago Bulls (46.7) and just ahead of the Phoenix Suns (44). The Pistons' strongest category was money, where they tied for 10th with a score of 57.5. Their weakest category was players, where they ranked 23rd with a score of 45.
The Los Angeles Clippers top the rankings with a score of 77.7.
"With Griffin, the Pistons can't easily bottom out and commit to rebuilding," Marks continues. "Yet with a patchwork roster of veterans and younger players still in development, Detroit also doesn't project as a likely East contender. With Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson due for free agency in 2020, the Pistons are No. 10 in potentially available money, but without a track record of luring top free agents."
The Pistons were 41-41 last season to squeeze into the playoffs as a No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference, getting swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. The Pistons did sign former MVP Derrick Rose this offseason, but most of their offseason moves were adding complementary players such as Markieff Morris and Tony Snell (via trade).
The Pistons have split their two preseason games so far, including a 124-117 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, and open the regular season Oct. 23 at Indiana.