The Detroit Pistons are often overlooked for their success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Sandwiched in between the dynasties of the Los Angeles Lakers/Boston Celtics and Micahel Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, the Pistons enjoyed a brief–albeit impressive–stay at the top.
As the franchise looks to rebuild with star power, we take a look back at the 10 best players in franchise history:
10. Bob Lanier
Lanier led the Pistons in scoring from 1972 to 1979, making him one of the franchise’s best players. He ranks highly in most statistical categories in Detroit history, but the team never experienced much postseason success during that time. The 8-time All-Star is a Hall of Fame inductee, as well.
9. George Yardley
Yardley was the pioneer of Pistons basketball. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1996, Yardley was the first player in NBA history to post 2,000 points in a season. A flashy scorer, he played with the Pistons in Fort Wayne and subsequently Detroit following the move.
8. Mark Aguirre
A 20 PPG scorer throughout his career, the Pistons don’t win two championships in 1989-1990 without the acquisition of Aguirre. Chuck Daly utilized him as both a starter and sixth man, and he emerged as the perfect complement to Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars.
7. Richard Hamilton
Hamilton played the role of Joe Dumars if Chauncey Billups is compared to Isiah Thomas. Rip Hamilton spent nine years with the Pistons, helping the team upset the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. Not only did Hamilton lead the Pistons in scoring during their championship season, he paced the team to six straight Eastern Conference Finals appearances. The Pistons have retired Hamilton’s No. 32 uniform.
6. Dennis Rodman
Rodman spent seven seasons with the Detroit Pistons, where he was the hustle player for Chuck Daly. Daly brought the best out of him, riding the rangy forward to two championships and two Defensive Player of the Year Awards. For his career, Rodman won five NBA titles.
5. Chauncey Billups
Billups played on eight different teams during his long career, but his best years were with the Pistons, where he was the signal-caller for the 2004 championship team. He turned into one of the league’s best guards while in Detroit, and he earned the nickname “Mr. Big Shot.” He won Finals MVP in 2004, and his No. 1 jersey is hanging in the Detroit rafters.
4. Ben Wallace
Ben Wallace emerged as the face of the 2000’s Pistons. The little-known player out of Virginia Union spent six seasons with the Pistons, where he won four Defensive Player of the Year Awards. He was the anchor for a Pistons’ defense that upset the heavily-favored Los Angeles Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. The Pistons would later retire his No. 3 jersey.
3. Bill Laimbeer
Laimbeer had a brief stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the bulk of his career was spent with the Detroit Pistons. In 11 seasons, Laimbeer embodied the “Bad Boy” Pistons and really became the face of an era. Laimbeer led the team in rebounding from 1983 to 1989, and he was the key frontcourt player for two champions.
2. Joe Dumars
Before the dominant backcourts of modern day, such as Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, there was Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas. Thomas’ wingman for two championships, Dumars was a primetime performer. He tallied 15.6 PPG and 4.6 APG in his 112 career playoff games. Dumars played his entire career with the Pistons, and he was even the architect behind the 2004 championship squad. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2006.
1. Isiah Thomas
Thomas, a Hall of Fame point guard, was the driving force behind the two Pistons championship teams in 1989 and 1990. He played all 13 seasons in a Pistons uniform and will go down as one of the great guards in NBA history. He was a 12-time All-Star and one-time Finals MVP. His No. 11 is retired by the Pistons.