Building Foundations: What the Detroit Lions can teach the Pistons.

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Sunday Night, The Detroit Lions defeated the San Diego Chargers 41-38 to improve to 7-2 on the season. This franchise went from the butt of jokes to a championship contender. Brad Holmes & Dan Campbell came in and turned this franchise around drastically. For a city starving for a championship, being told to wait for the pieces to come together was something that the Lions faithful didn’t want to hear. The patience shown for the football team is the same patience Pistons faithful will have to show for the Pistons.

Foundational Building

The most vital asset on this Lions team is undoubtedly the offensive line.

  • Jonah Jackson (3rd round pick in 2020.)
  • Taylor Decker (1st round pick in 2016.)
  • Frank Ragnow (1st round pick in 2018.)
  • Penei Sewell (1st round pick in 2021.)

The Lions drafted these guys over seven years ago. The majority of the media in Detroit ridiculed the Lions for going offensive line instead of the skilled player. Nothing is appealing about an offensive lineman. You only see the skill players ‘ highlights when you pull up the highlights on a game unless they make a fantastic block. When you look at it now, The offensive line sets the tone for Jared Goff to get the ball to his receivers; Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery are now able to get lanes to run the football and make plays in the 2nd level, which makes the Lions one of the most high-powered offenses.

The Pistons must build that foundation to be successful; for the most part, they haven’t done so. Here are some of the Piston’s picks (not players traded to them) in the last ten years.

As you can see, NONE of these guys are still around; three aren’t in the league (Johnson, Ellenson & Doumbouya.) If you were to build your team foundationally, then you would have realized that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one of the better 2-way defenders in the league, Spencer Dinwiddie is an instant offense, and Bruce Brown is the ultimate “utility” player in the league. Luke Kennard is one of the most dangerous shooters in the league. Since Troy Weaver’s hiring in 2020, The Pistons have been focused on youth, and they have some pieces that can be molded into something.

The question now is, Can you be patient?

Having Assets & Flipping Them

When Brad Holmes took the Job, Holmes knew he had to reshape this team to be competitive in the LONG TERM rather than the short term. His first move was trading beloved quarterback Matthew Stafford for Goff, a 2021 3rd-round pick, a 2022 1st-round pick, and a 2023 1st-round pick. TJ Hockenson started to emerge himself as one of the best young tight ends in the NFL, but the idea of having to pay him was a bit much for a team still rebuilding. Hockenson got the Lions a 2023 2nd-round pick & 2024 3rd-round pick. Jeff Okudah was a guy who showed a bit of potential in Detroit, but his injury concerns were just too much for the Lions to see a long-term plan with him. The Lions turned Okudah into a 2023 5th-round pick. What did those assets turn into?

  • Ifeatu Meilfonwu
  • Jameson Williams
  • Josh Paschal
  • Jahmyr Gibbs
  • Sam LaPorta
  • Brodric Martin
  • Hendon Hooker
  • Antoine Green
  • Brian Branch

How could they flip their assets into younger players contributing to the team? So when you look at specific trades, think of what they could net the team to build towards the future, Like the Pistons.

The Pistons have pieces that can get them some future assets to continue this rebuild. When the team traded for Bojan Bogdanovic, The initial thought was to improve the team to gear up for a playoff run, but when the losses piled up, Bogdanovic is now a piece that would net them some young assets and draft capital. Alec Burks, in five games, is averaging 15.2 points. Don’t you think a contender is looking to trade away some young pieces and draft capital to the Pistons for Burks? Monte Morris is one of the league’s best backup point guards. He takes care of the ball and gets your guys in spots to be the most effective. You don’t think a team would be willing to trade some assets to acquire his services. You put a group together for two reason:

  1. You’re ready to compete.
  2. You’re auditioning players for other teams.

Developing young men

Remember when Dan Campbell came in and said his team is “going to bite kneecaps?” Everyone laughed at him and wondered if this was too much for him. The team went 3-13-1 in his first season, and his 1-6 record at the start of his second season caused people to want him gone. The fans didn’t see the vision; they didn’t see the progress cause the squad had been so bad. Everyone was on board and went 8-2 in the final ten games to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2017! Trusting his system, the coaches he brought in to teach these players up, and the player’s love for Campbell brought the team together to play exceptional football.

The Pistons have to be patient with Monty Williams. He has to gain the trust of these players, and the only way he’s going to do that is to reward the players who will play defense. If you don’t keep the same energy on both sides of the court, You won’t play as much as you may think you should. Championship pedigree starts from within, and you have to be willing to go above and beyond the normal, ESPECIALLY in this new regime, which has been accustomed to winning lately.

Final thoughts

In closing, the season looks terrible already, but understand that bad habits take a while to undo. The Lions had to undo so much from the Matt Patricia/Bob Quinn era in Detroit, and once they did, the team is now a championship contender. The Pistons have to undo the Dwayne Casey/Stan Van Gundy era that left the Pistons in a challenging position. As I watch this squad, I see the potential. This team is buying into Monty Williams’ philosophies and playing hard. It’s only a matter of time until Little Caesars Arena is rocking, and if you need any motivation, Check out Ford Field.

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