Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors may not be the most enjoyable watch in the NBA right now, but he has certainly built a roster with more short-term viability than what Troy Weaver, Monty Williams, and the lowly Detroit Pistons have been doing in what was supposed to be a year they fought for a play-in spot.
The Pistons, who made Monty Williams the highest-paid coach in NBA history, started the year 2-1 with the only loss being a one-point loss to the reigning runners-up in the Heat. Since then, Detroit has lost 14 straight games, including a defeat against Toronto and a 19-point home loss against the equally poor Washington Wizards.
Detroit is 4-38 since last trade deadline, showing the flaws in Troy Weaver's vision. Even with oodles of top picks, solid cap space, and an experienced coach at the helm, the Pistons are showing what can happen when a team tries to tear everything down in the hope of assembling a star-laden roster via tanking.
The Raptors find themselves on the verge of heading down this same path, as Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby could be playing elsewhere in July. Blowing the roster up and building around Scottie Barnes sounds cool, but this is what happens if you don't do it right.
The Toronto Raptors must avoid becoming the Detroit Pistons.
The scary thing about the Pistons rebuild is they seem to have drafted well with the picks they have gotten from being so bad. Cade Cunningham is a terrific young scorer, Jalen Duren will be a center for a very long time in this league, and Ausar Thompson looks like a star in the making. Even Jaden Ivey has potential.
Between creating a young roster that has been enveloped in a losing culture for their entire careers, poor allocation of cap space (brought on in part by good players not wanting to torch their careers in Detroit), and ill-fated trading, the Pistons are a bleak experience.
This situation is not unique to Detroit. Philadelphia had to endure years of unwatchable dreck before Joel Embiid came along (and failed to get them to a Conference Finals), while Houston was the worst team in the league for three years on the bounce after the James Harden trade.
Perhaps the biggest reason Toronto might avoid a Pistons-like malaise is the fact that Ujiri might be unwilling to tear things down to the studs completely. The hauls from a Siakam or Anunoby trade would set them up for more success than a Pistons team that couldn't offload Blake Griffin.
In a perfect world, Toronto would draft well and surround Scottie Barnes with assets that can jump-start their rebuilding efforts. However, with Barnes standing out as the only above-average pick this franchise has made in four years and the inherent difficulty that comes with attracting players to Canada, a rebuild might take longer than most fans want.