COACH: Flip Saunders | 2005-06: 64-18
Detroit Pistons

The Pistons starting lineup looks a little different without Ben Wallace.
D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
A fifth straight 50-win season, a fourth straight trip to the Eastern Conference Finals and an NBA-best 64-wins in 2005-06 all suggest dominance in Detroit, but a playoff loss to Miami and the loss of Ben Wallace represent a huge chink in the Pistons' armor heading into 2006-07.

This could have been the year that Darko Milicic stepped into the middle, but Milicic and Carlos Arroyo – who both stood out at the recent FIBA World Championships – were dealt to Orlando last season for Kelvin Cato (who had no impact in Detroit and wasn’t re-signed) and a future first-rounder, ostensibly to create the cap room necessary to retain Wallace. Oops.

Introducing your 2006-07 Detroit Donuts, a team with a hole in the middle, but otherwise very appetizing.

Free-agent hire Nazr Mohammed, last seen backing up Rasho Nesterovic in San Antonio, is the man most likely to inherit Wallace’s starting job. Wallace is the four-time Defensive Player of the Year; Mohammed has never averaged 30 minutes or 9 rebounds in a season ... but he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

The remainder of Detroit’s All-Star-laden roster returns intact, augmented by free agents Ronald Dupree and Flip Murray. Dupree and Murray provide much-needed depth because it’s impossible to conceive the Pistons making it through another season with ZERO missed games from their top six players.

Detroit’s top reserves, Lindsey Hunter, 36, and Antonio McDyess, 32, both have extensive injury histories, so developing some young talent is paramount. Detroit had no first-rounder, settling for second-rounders Cheik Samb, a raw 7-1 center from Senegal and Will Blalock, an athletic point guard from Iowa State.

The offense should still be among the NBA’s most efficient, provided Rip Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince can remain healthy. They share the ball and turn it over less than any other team in the NBA (11.4 tpg last season), and they’re one of the NBA’s best three-point shooting teams. In January, people were saying this was a team with five All-Stars. Only one of them left.

This is a proud team, one that should be motivated by predictions of its demise (one ESPN columnist had them ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference). It’s not a team, though, that will repeat last year’s 64-win regular season. A lack of depth, the loss of Wallace, and the improvement of other Eastern teams, will see to that.

If they can keep alive their 50-win streak for another season, the season should be considered a success.

-- Bill Evans

2006-07 Pistons Ticket Plans
Don't wait to reserve your seats for the 2006-07 Pistons season! Get your full or half-season or mini-plan tickets today.
Rolling the Dice

McDyess
Nazr Mohammed may inherit the starting role, but could Antonio McDyess be ready to take on a more prominent role?

McDyess has enjoyed two injury-free seasons in Detroit, excelling in the role of sixth man for the Pistons. It’s a role that has kept his playing time in check (21.1 mpg last season), so as not to limit his effectiveness or risk aggravating his surgically repaired left knee.

As the Pistons top reserve, there are certainly minutes to be had behind Mohammed and Rasheed Wallace if he is willing and able to accept them. If not, enter 37-year-old Dale Davis, currently the only other NBA-ready option in the paint.

-- Bill Evans

73
THE STAT
The Pistons starting five in 2005-06 set the NBA record for the most consecutive starts by the same five players, beginning the first 73 straight games.
X&O STRENGTH

Saunders
There is no doubt that they still have the best four on the floor in Hamilton, Price, Billups and Rasheed. They all can do things with the basketball inside and out, they all can handle, they can all bring it up, they can all score and they can all shoot the basketball which is always going to make them a contender...He has tremendous confidence in Billups, Hamilton and Prince and has the respect of Rasheed Wallace. That’s his strength

X&O WEAKNESS
He will have the challenge with a bit of a change in offensive philosophy as Nazr Mohammed takes over for Ben Wallace.

HEAD COACH PHILOSOPHY
The most experienced coach in the division and with that comes the highest expectations of all the coaches...Because he has coached at so many levels, and so many seasons, there isn’t much that Flip hasn’t seen as a coach.

-- John Gabriel (courtesy of the National Basketball Coaches Association)

They are going to lose a little bit with Ben Wallace leaving, but I think them or Cleveland will win the Central.
A big key is Rasheed Wallace. Their low-post scoring, with Ben, was almost non-existent. That's going to fall on Rasheed.
They'll get solid play from their perimeter, with Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince.
They play their guys a ton of minutes because they are not very deep. They re-signed Lindsey, who's a little bit older and does bring some stuff off the bench, but that's a weakness of theirs -- they do have to play their guys so much.
Defensively, they're still going to be good. Those guys guard. They're going to be fine.
I think Ben gets a ton of calls that really helped them. Now all of a sudden, those charges and no-calls are going to be called fouls on them.

-- Eastern Conference Scout

Tayshaun Prince: Exactly the sort of multi-category performer that helps wins fantasy leagues, as he does a little bit of everything.
Nazr Mohammed: Don't expect a huge jump in his career numbers despite the probable increase in minutes with Ben Wallace gone.
This season, the team will have to overcome the loss of Ben Wallace, which means an emphasis on greater offensive production. That could lead to a bonanza for Pistons players. Richard Hamilton (20.1 ppg), Chauncey Billups (18.5 ppg), Tayshaun Prince (14.1 ppg) and Rasheed Wallace (15.1 ppg) are all capable of scoring more. With more shots should also come more free throws, three-pointers, rebounds and assists. Nazr Mohammed will be a decent selection at the five-spot but watch out for Antonio McDyess as he could benefit from the uptempo offense.
-- Tony Targan
Pistons Fantasy Preview
PLAYER/2005-06 STATS
PPG
RPG
APG
PG
18.5
3.1
8.6
SG
20.1
3.2
3.4
SF
14.1
4.2
2.3
PF
15.1
6.8
2.3
C
6.2
5.2
0.5
G
3.6
1.7
0.6
G
2.9
1.3
2.1
F
2.3
1.1
0.1
F
7.8
5.3
1.1
G
11.2
2.0
2.6
G
Argentina
C
Senegal
G
Draft
F
Free Agent
G
Free Agent
C
Free Agent
C
Draft
C
Free agent
G
Trade
PPG
20.1
RPG
11.3
APG
8.6
SPG
1.78
BPG
2.21
Points Scored
96.8
(19th)
Points Allowed
90.2
(3rd)
Field-Goal Percentage
.455
(12th)
Opponents' FG%
.452
(13th)
Rebounding Diff.
-0.34
(16th)
2001-02: 50-32, Central Div. Champs
1996-97: 54-28, Fourth, Central Division
1986-87: 52-30, Second, Central Div.
1981-82: 39-43, Third, Central Division
Best NBA Season: 2005-06, 64-18
Season/Home Opener:
Nov. 1 vs. MIL (8:00 p.m. ET, tv20)
Longest Road Trip:
5 games in 8 days: Mar. 9-16
DEN, LAC, SEA, POR, PHO
Longest home stand(s):
5 games in 9 days: Feb. 6-14
BOS, LAL, TOR, LAC, SAS
Buy tickets | Full Pistons schedule
TV: tv20, FSN Detroit, WDIV
Radio: WDFN 1130 AM
Web: Official site
Local Coverage: Detroit Free Press | Detroit News | MLive | Oakland Press