Detroit Pistons

Detroit's 2004 second-round pick, Rickey Paulding, spent 2004-05 playing in Israel.
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No. 26, No. 45 (from Phi.), No. 56
Elden Campbell (unrestricted)
Ronald Dupree (player option)
Darvin Ham (unrestricted)
Horace Jenkins (restricted)
2004: 54. Rickey Paulding, Missouri
2003: 2. Darko Milicic, Serbia & Montenegro
25. Carlos Delfino, Italy
58. Andreas Glyniadakis, Greece
2002: 23. Tayshaun Prince, Kentucky
2001: 9. Rodney White, Charlotte
38. Mehmet Okur, Turkey
2000: 14. Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State
44. Brian Cardinal, Purdue
By Bill Evans

When the 2004-05 season began: All was right in the Motor City, where basketball purists were lauding the end of the ‘me-first’ era and the rise of team basketball after the Pistons dissected a Lakers team laden with future Hall of Famers. In the offseason, Detroit added Antonio McDyess, giving Larry Brown yet another weapon.

What happened? The Pistons 2004-05 victory tour was derailed on November 19. Their reign as champs was suddenly secondary to their role in the ugly incident in the stands at The Palace.

The resulting hangover lasted more than a month, as the Pistons were constantly asked about the brawl, its effects, and the impending Christmas Day rematch with the Pacers in Indiana. Only 12-12 at Christmas time, the Pistons scored a 98-83 win that seemed to provide closure and allow the Pistons to commence concentrating on defending their title.

The Pistons posted a 42-16 mark over the final four months of the season, relying heavily on a starting five that had avoided injuries (14 games missed total) and had no weak link.

Ben Wallace was the NBA’s second-leading rebounder (12.2 rpg) and defended his Defensive Player of the Year. The other starters provided the offense, each averaging better than 14 points a game, led by 18.7 ppg from Richard Hamilton.

Antonio McDyess excelled in the Sixth Man role (9.6 points, 6.3 rebounds), joining Lindsey Hunter and mid-season acquisition Carlos Arroyo on a sturdy second unit.

Detroit had a stern test in the playoffs. After a first-round win over Philadelphia, the Pistons and Pacers locked horns once again. Detroit sent Reggie Miller into retirement with a 4-2 series win, and advanced to the Finals after a seven-game showdown with Miami.

What now? Only Darvin Ham and Elden Campbell are unsigned for next season, but expect contract talks to begin with Ben Wallace, who will enter the final year of his deal.

Detroit’s five starters are so resilient, that the team hasn’t had to rely on depth. It could use another shooter in the backcourt; only Chauncey Billups was an above-average three-point marksmen.

Assuming the devopment of Darko Milicic takes a step forward, he and McDyess provide backup to Ben and Rasheed Wallace. Arroyo, Hunter and Carlos Delfino are capable guards, so the starter most in need of some backup is Tayshaun Prince, who was second to Hamilton in minutes (37.1 mpg).

Without a need to fill, the Pistons can take the top remaining player available with the 26th pick.