Too many people agree that it is disheartening that the New York Knicks are no longer a powerhouse in the NBA. I do agree with them, but to me, the fall of the Detroit Pistons is just as bad. Granted they only missed the playoffs last season, but many of the faces of the great Pistons teams in the 2000’s are either no longer with them or have seen better times. The Pistons went to the playoffs in eight straight seasons in the 2000’s, dating from 2001-2009. In that time, they won two Eastern Conference Championships and won the NBA Championship in 2004. Former Pistons great Joe Dumars transitioned from his days of playing and put together one of the most dominating teams of the 2000’s. He did an incredible job of assembling players that fit into the team system like pieces of the puzzle and kept the Pistons on top for almost the entire decade. Here are the best five Detroit Pistons from 2001-2010. (Only accomplishments and stats while playing for the Detroit Pistons from 2000-2010 were considered.)
1. Ben Wallace
Yes, Ben Wallace is #1. I know he couldn’t score, but the motto is true; defense wins Championships. Nobody played better defense in the early 2000’s than Ben Wallace, and it wasn’t even close. Wallace was Mr. Defense. He was by far the best defender in the NBA in the first half of the decade and won four NBA Defensive Player of the Year Awards. Wallace joined the Pistons in 2000-01 and played there through the 2005-06 season. He then went to Chicago and Cleveland before finding his way back to the Pistons for the 2009-10 season. In his first stint with Detroit, Big Ben averaged at least 11.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game. He led the league in rebounds twice and blocked shots once during that span.
2. Chauncey Billups
Can you believe that the Pistons were Billups fifth team in his first five seasons of his career? I don’t know what teams saw in him that the Pistons obviously didn’t, but the Pistons sure are happy that he fell into their laps. Billups spent just a tad over six seasons as the Pistons starting point guard and helped lead them to the playoffs in all six of those seasons. His best season came in 2006 when he averaged 18.5 points and a career high 8.6 assists per game. He was the named the finals MVP in 2004 when the Pistons were crowned the NBA Champions. Billups made the Eastern Conference All-Star Team in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
3. Richard Hamilton
The image of Richard Hamilton playing for the Detriot Pistons is so engrained in my head that I couldn’t even remember at first that he actually started his career with a different team. Hamilton was traded from the Washington Wizards to the Detroit Pistons about a month and a half before the 2002-03 NBA season. In his eight seasons with the Pistons, Hamilton scored 17.3 points per game or more in all eight seasons and was named to three All-Star Teams. He holds the franchise record for total points scored in the postseason.
4. Rasheed Wallace
Wallace played for the Pistons from 2004-2009 and is best known for being one of their two intimidators. He wasn’t just an intimidator though, as he was one of those that could also score. Rasheed averaged at least 12 points and 6.5 boards per contest in each of his six seasons with the Pistons. He was named an All-Star twice while with the Pistons, once in 2006 and again in 2008.
5. Tayshaun Prince
With Tayshaun, what you see one year is what you get the next year. Prince is one of the most consistent players year in and year out that you will find. He scores12-14 points a game and supplies you with some beastly defense. He has been named to four NBA All-Defensive Second Teams.