Brooklyn Nets v Detroit Pistons
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The Pistons lost their 27th straight game on Tuesday, setting the single-season record for the longest losing streak in NBA history. What's behind Detroit's losing ways? And what does the future hold for Cade Cunningham's and the Pistons? Our writers weigh in on the team's woes and predict when the skid could finally end.

What has been the Pistons' biggest problem this season?

Jasmyn Wimbish: Roster construction and coaching. There are a few too many "we can fix him" type of players on this roster between Kevin Knox, James Wiseman and to a lesser extent Marvin Bagley III. Detroit traded away Saddiq Bey for Knox and could surely use Bey's 35.9% 3-point shooting on this team right now. And that's just one example of poor asset management. Beyond that, the rotations Monty Williams is using should be considered questionable. Jaden Ivey, who averaged over 18 points a game in his rookie season while starting has seen his numbers dwindle as Williams has favored Killian Hayes, who in four seasons is averaging 8.5 points while shooting 38.2% from the floor. 

James Herbert: Spacing. This is the NBA's worst 3-point shooting team in terms of both volume and efficiency, and it looks like it. Against a backdrop of an extraordinary scoring boom, the Pistons' inability (or refusal) to play lineups that adequately space the floor is downright depressing. Nobody wants to see the two-big starting five anymore, and it's difficult to overstate how different Detroit would look with, say, Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O'Neale on the roster. I feel so bad for the ballhandlers. 

Brad Botkin: There's no way to identify one single problem with a team that has lost 27 straight games. But I'll give you a few. One, the Pistons can't shoot. They rank 29th in both 3-point frequency and percentage, per Cleaning the Glass. Their best player, Cade Cunningham, operates primarily in the midrange. Jaden Ivey is 31% from 3. Killian Hayes is 30%. Ausar Thompson, though he has been glued to the bench of late, is one of the worst shooters in the league. To say nothing of the spacing cramp this creates, the Pistons simply aren't good enough, on either end, to be digging out of a huge mathematical hole every night.

Their depth is also a problem; the bench has the worst net rating in the league, and Monty Williams plays all-bench lineup that get run off the floor. In general, he plays too many guys. James Wiseman? He's one of the worst players in the league. The defense, already hanging by a thread, falls off a cliff when he plays. Finally, once this streak got to a certain point, the Pistons started getting everyone's best effort because nobody wants to be the team to lose to them. The Nets played like it was a playoff game on Tuesday.

Fact or Fiction? Cade Cunningham is a future All-Star.

Herbert: Fact. I get the concerns about his turnover rate, his jumper and his overall inefficiency, but I remain high on Cunningham in the long term (and my answer would have been the same before his incredible performance Tuesday night). He's overburdened right now, and he desperately needs more room to operate, but, at 22, his path to stardom isn't any different than it was when he went on a tear toward the end of his rookie season. It has just been obscured by this losing streak and an offensive environment that makes everything more difficult. One day, ideally in the near future, he will be in a much more normal team context, and he'll probably be praised for some "improvements" that are simply the product of having better, more complementary players around him.

Botkin: I'm going to say fact, but I don't feel great about it. Cunningham is really good. Great size. Smooth game. He's topped 40 points twice in the last 10 days. Put a reasonable supporting cast around him, and he's a potential 25-and-10 guy. That said, there's something about Cunningham that makes me think he's always going to leave us wanting more considering his size/skill combo.

Without a go-to jumper or extraordinary athleticism, it can feel like he's playing a little uphill. Given the amount of talent in the NBA these days, even if Cunningham were to get in the neighborhood of a 25-and-10 level, that wouldn't guarantee an All-Star spot. But he's so young. I'll bet that one of these years, either for injuries to his competition or just a solitary standout Cade campaign, he'll get in at least once, and maybe a few times.

Wimbish: Fact. Let's not conflate the Pistons being bad as a team with Cunningham's obvious talent. He has all the tools to reach that level, and if it weren't for a season-ending injury last year he'd be further along in his development rather than playing in just his second year. He's been incredibly efficient from the floor while averaging a career-high 23 points, and if the supporting cast around him were better he'd be getting more of the positive attention he deserves. 

It also doesn't help that he has essentially zero space to operate the way he's accustomed to, which is getting to the rim pretty much at will and overpowering smaller defenders with his strength and size. He drew comparisons to Luka Doncic leading up to the draft, so the Pistons need to study how the Mavericks have been successful in building a team around their superstar and follow suit. Get Cade some shooters!

Fact or Fiction? The Pistons will go down as the worst team in NBA history.

Botkin: Fiction. Most people give this dubious honor to the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats that won less than 11% of their games (7-59 in a strike-shortened season). That team started D.J. Augustin, Gerald Henderson Jr., Corey Maggette, Tyrus Thomas and Bismack Biyombo. Kemba Walker and Biyombo were rookies. Maggette was past his prime. Boris Diaw was on this team, but got cut, only to resurface in San Antonio where he turned into a magician. To me, this Bobcats team has a fair amount of NBA-level players, but not ones that deserved to be starting. That's the difference. There was no Cade Cunningham on that Bobcats team. No Jalen Duren. Jaden Ivey and Ausar Thompson are also recent top-five picks.

The Pistons need to finish with a 9-73 record to finish with a better winning percentage than that Bobcats team. They're currently 2-28. That means they need to go 7-45 the rest of the way. I mean, come on. I have to think they're going to pull that off. But even if they don't (they will be in full tank mode eventually, as the Bobcats were in hopes of landing Anthony Davis), I'd still take the talent on this Detroit team over that Charlotte mess. 

Herbert: Fiction. The Pistons are a run-of-the-mill bad team disguised as one of the worst teams ever. They didn't assemble the roster with the intention of losing tons of games this season, and they wouldn't have become such a laughingstock without bad injury luck: Bojan Bogdanovic was sidelined for more than a month at the beginning of the season, Jalen Duren has missed half of Detroit's games and Monte Morris has yet to even suit up. I am not predicting that Morris is going to come back and spur the greatest in-season turnaround we've ever seen, but I find it amazing that things have gone this poorly. If the Pistons are destined to go down as the absolute worst, I can't imagine what fresh horrors are about to befall them.

Wimbish: Fiction. Part of the reason this losing streak has been so surprising is because this team isn't the worst squad ever assembled. There's legitimate talent there, but between a mixture of injuries, lack of effort, poor roster construction and a tiny bit of bad luck the Pistons have now become the poster children for "the worst."

When will the Pistons end the streak?

Botkin: Detroit's next game is Thursday at Boston, where the Celtics are yet to lose this season. Forget that. Then they get the Raptors at home, and I think it happens there. If not, they'll have another good shot at Utah next Wednesday. But I'll go with the home date against Toronto. I'm not putting any money on that, mind you. But that's my half-hearted guess.

Wimbish: I know it's crazy to take them against the Celtics, so call me delusional, but I think setting the single-season record for consecutive losses will put enough fire under them to ensure that steak isn't extended. Aside from a couple blowouts the Pistons have been incredibly close in a lot of their games, so if enough things break their way in Boston on Thursday the streak could end then. 

Herbert: I'm going to optimistically say Saturday against Toronto. Sure, Detroit has already lost by 29 points to the Raptors this season, but Kevin Knox II started that game. Not only are Bogdanovic and Duren back now, Toronto appears to be in free fall, with a similarly antimodern starting five, a disappointing defense and an offense prone to prolonged cold spells. I at least expect this matchup to be competitive, and the Pistons have to find a way to close out a game at some point … right?