- Here’s a list of the best Detroit Pistons’ draft picks in franchise history.
- Isiah Thomas leads the list of players Detroit selected through the draft.
- Other notable players include Joe Dumars and Dennis Rodman.
The Detroit Pistons are the fifth-winningest NBA franchise in history with three titles, which is tied with the Philadelphia 76ers. They captured the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in 1989, 1990, and 2004. Detroit’ defied the basketball odds in 2004, as they pulled off one of the top five NBA Finals upsets in history by beating the star-studded Los Angeles Lakers in five games.
These championship successes were due to their ability to select and develop young players from the draft. A few notable players they drafted were Bob Lanier, Grant Hill, Tayshaun Prince, Dave Bing, and Andre Drummond. However, their impact and contributions to the franchise were not enough to make them the cut for the three best Detroit Pistons’ draft picks.
In 1981, Detroit’s franchise was changed forever when they selected Isiah Thomas as their second-overall pick in the draft. The 6-foot-1 point guard out of Indiana immediately became the team’s leading playmaker with averages of 17.0 points, 7.8 assists, and 2.9 rebounds in his rookie season, which landed him on the All-NBA Rookie 1st Team and the NBA All-Star Game in 1982.
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) April 30, 2023
Thomas continued to lead the team on the offensive end, and in the process, they made three consecutive NBA Finals appearances from 1988 to 1990. Of those trips to the NBA Finals, they capitalized on their chances in 1989 and 1990 by beating the Lakers and Portland, respectively. Thomas also secured the NBA Finals MVP in 1990. After 13 seasons with the Pistons, “Mr. Wonderful” retired from the NBA and racked up career averages of 19.2 points, 9.3 assists, and 3.6 rebounds.
Besides Thomas, the other half of Detroit’s dynamic duo was Joe Dumars. The Pistons picked the shooting guard as the eighth overall pick in 1985. Dumars initially came off the bench in his rookie season, but he was still a member of the All-NBA Rookie 1st Team with numbers of 9.4 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 rebounds. In his sophomore season, the former McNeese State standout was moved to the starting role and began to help the team even more.
June 10, 1990: Joe Dumars scores 33 PTS in Detroit's 121-106 win at Portland in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.
Isiah Thomas and Vinnie Johnson added 21 PTS apiece for the Pistons, who took a 2-1 series lead. Jerome Kersey scored a team-high 27 PTS for the Trail Blazers. pic.twitter.com/lFYK0TyGGK
— NBA Cobwebs (@NBACobwebs) June 10, 2023
Dumars established himself as Thomas’ running mate on the offensive end and became one of the team’s leading scorers. He was also an important part of the team’s success during their back-to-back titles in 1989 and 1990, and he was also named the NBA Finals MVP in 1989. Like Thomas, Dumars played out his entire 14-year NBA career with the Pistons, where he finished with an average of 16.1 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.2 rebounds in 1,018 games.
Completing the three best Detroit Pistons draft picks of all time is Dennis Rodman. Unlike Thomas and Dumars, who are both lottery picks, Rodman was a second-round pick in 1986. The 6-foot-6 power forward came off the bench in his first four seasons, but because of his hustle and grit, he earned himself a spot in the starting five. Rodman was a rebounding machine and a defensive specialist always tasked to defend the opposition’s star player.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) September 10, 2019
“The Worm” also was an important member of the “Bad Boy Pistons,” who were notorious for giving hard fouls and being physical to opposing players. Rodman played a vital role in the championship campaigns of the team by providing the rebounding and defensive presence inside the paint. Before San Antonio acquired him via trade in 1993, Rodman played seven seasons with Detroit and produced an average of 8.8 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 549 games.
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