We are fast approaching one of the most exciting times in all of sports.
The NCAA tournament—March Madness if you prefer—is a time of year that captivates casual and intense fans alike. Everyone gets into the action, filling out brackets for both fun and financial gain.
On the exact opposite side of the emotional spectrum lies the Detroit Pistons. A proud franchise in disarray, the Pistons have dropped seven straight games and 10 of their last 11.
This team is in an absolute free-fall and are likely destined for a top five pick in this year's draft.
But why dwell on the negative? Rather, let's take a look at how the best players in the history of this franchise would fare against each other in a series of one-on-one matchups.
Players will be seeded and matched up against one another in the same way that the NCAA tournament is formatted.
Seeds are based on the historical significance of each player on the franchise.
For a number of reasons this is a fun matchup.
First of all, these two don't like each other. Isiah Thomas is the face of this franchise, helping lead the Pistons to their first two titles.
Adrian Dantley was a high-scoring albeit aging forward that was shipped out of town right before the Pistons won their first title for Thomas' childhood friend Mark Aguirre.
On the court, this matchup is fairly one-sided. Dantley is an amazing low-post scorer, utilizing his strong lower body strength and superb hands.
However, Thomas is lightning quick and able to easily get to the hoop on Dantley. When Dantley backs off, the streaky-shooting Thomas makes him pay.
Thomas wins easily.
Poor John "Spider" Salley. He truly never had a chance here.
Bob Lanier was a legend in Detroit. Sure, he never won anything during his career with the team but he was one of the league's top centers for a decade.
Lanier had a game similar to today's Greg Monroe. He wouldn't blow you away with his athleticism, but he could just flat-out score and rebound, not to mention block shots.
He was an intimidating presence down low and nearly impossible to cover.
Salley was a fairly one-dimensional player despite being a high first round pick by the Pistons. Salley could block shots, that was about it.
In this matchup, Lanier punishes Salley to the point of utter submission and Salley's lack of an interior post game on either end of the court hurts him here.
Lanier in a laugher.
Prior to Isiah Thomas, Dave Bing was considered the best Pistons guard of all time.
A sweet-shooting, smooth scorer, Bing was one of the first score-first point guards in the league, averaging over 20 points per game over his 12 year career.
Stackhouse, on the other hand, is often a forgotten man in team history. He was on the cusp of being a star at various points in his career, but ultimately is viewed as a good but not great player.
On the court, Stackhouse has the size and athleticism advantage. Bing is the better shooter, but Stackhouse is the better scorer. Perhaps if this was a team game, Bing would get the best of Stack.
But in a one-on-one game, Stackhouse is able to use his size and strength to overpower the undersized Bing.
Stackhouse pulls off our first upset.
Joe Dumars, for all of his misgivings as a general manager, was a legendary player for the Pistons.
One of the few true combo guards of his era, Dumars used a rainbow jump shot to go along with fantastic on-the-ball defense to form one of the best backcourt duos of all-time with Isiah Thomas.
Vinnie Johnson was the Pistons' instant offense man off of the bench.
Nicknamed "The Microwave" for his ability to get hot quick, Johnson hit the series-clinching shot against the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1990 NBA Finals.
On the court, these two match up pretty well against each other. Johnson is lightning-quick, but is a streaky shooter that doesn't always excel at the deep ball.
This plays into Dumars' hands, as he is able to take away the drive with his strong defense.
Dumars wins this one easily.
For some basketball purists, there might be questions as to why George Yardley slipped this far. He did, in fact, lead the NBA in scoring while playing for the Pistons and is generally considered one of the league's pioneers.
But he never won a title with the Pistons, while Chauncey Billups not only won one but was the MVP of the series.
On the court, Billups is slightly shorter, but makes up for it with his lower body strength and quick hands.
Yardley is unable to overpower Billups and eventually is felled by Billups ability to knock down the three-ball.
Billups wins fairly easily.
These two were actually kind of traded for one another back at the turn of the century. And in all honesty, could not be more different from one another.
Ben Wallace was a defensive menace, able to guard multiple positions and was a four-time defensive player of the year.
His ability to disrupt shots and impose his will without scoring was legendary.
Grant Hill was perhaps the most physically gifted player to ever lace up sneakers for the Pistons.
During the height of his talent, he was one of the top players in the league.
On the court, this one actually has the potential to get ugly. Wallace can stay with Hill for awhile, but eventually the fleet-footed forward blows past the big man and gets his points.
Hill wins this one easily.
Before the crazy hair, makeup and all the piercings, Dennis Rodman was "The Worm," in Detroit.
Known as the best defender in the league during his time with the Pistons, Rodman had a knack for getting under the skin of opponents and dominated the game despite rarely scoring.
Similar to Ben Wallace, Rodman could defend multiple positions. He had the strength to stay with guys like Karl Malone but the quickness to give Michael Jordan fits.
Hamilton was the master of the mid-range game and playing without the ball for the Pistons and led the team in scoring multiple times.
In this matchup, however, Rodman's elasticity and length prove to much for Hamilton and he eventually wears down the rail-thin guard.
Sure, it takes Rodman awhile to score, but he eventually comes out on top.
Okay, part of the reason I paired these two together is because their games remind me so much of one another.
They each were supremely talented big men that thrived on playing smart defense, knocking down perimeter shots and grabbing defensive rebounds.
Wallace is obviously the more physically talented of the two but Laimbeer is just so stinking tough.
The real fun in this matchup is when Wallace posts Laimbeer up. There are a lot of elbows thrown and a heck of a lot of physicality. Wallace outlasts Laimbeer due to his unblockable low post shot.
Down goes Laimbeer!
In the second round, the Pistons all-time leader in most offensive categories finds himself up against the enigmatic Rasheed Wallace.
Whenever you have a big matched up against a little, the advantage usually goes to the bigger man. He has the luxury of physical strength on his side and can usually impose his will.
But Thomas is not your usual little guy. In this matchup, Thomas refuses to give an inch and finally gets Wallace to miss a shot, allowing him to dictate the pace with his quickness.
Thomas gets to the hoop at will and eventually outlasts the bigger Wallace.
Now things are starting to get interesting.
Lanier is so physically dominating that even the usually strong Rodman has trouble with him.
Lanier uses his size to clear Rodman out and uses his nice touch around the hoop to get a lot of easy hoops.
Rodman occasionally likes to step back and hit a three-pointer but even that isn't enough to save him against Lanier.
Lanier pulls it out.
Now this is a fun matchup to watch.
Two of the team's most athletic players square off against each other in a showdown of players from the ill-fated "Teal era".
Stackhouse is slightly stronger but Hill is the better defender. Hill also is quicker and is able to use his superior ball-handling ability to get by Stackhouse with ease.
After a back-and-forth game, Hill takes control late when Stackhouse struggles to knock down big shots.
Hill pulls it out.
This might be the best matchup of the bunch.
These two players are perhaps the most evenly matched of anyone playing.
Both are physical guards that play smart, mistake-free ball and rely on the deep ball for the bulk of their points.
Dumars is the better defender but Billups is stronger.
After the smoke settles, Dumars is able to hold off Billups and wins the battle of former NBA Finals MVPs.
Poor Joe Dumars.
Not only does he have to face off against his former backcourt mate Vinnie Johnson earlier in the tournament, but he then has to face two NBA Finals MVPs in Billups and Thomas.
Thomas is a streaky shooter and Dumars is a superior defender.
On paper, Dumars should win this game easily.
But Thomas is also perhaps the greatest competitor to ever play for the Pistons and through his sheer force of will is able to gut out a victory.
Relying mainly on his ability to shoot off the dribble, Thomas eventually pulls off the victory.
In the second Final Four matchup, the greatest athlete to ever play for the Pistons finds himself up against the greatest center to ever play for the club.
Lanier can absolutely punish Hill down low, but Hill is much quicker and can drive at will.
This all comes down to who misses first and once Lanier throws up a brick, Hill takes control of the game.
This one turns out to be somewhat of a blowout, with Hill pulling off the upset.
If this was only about size, Hill would win easily.
If this was only about athletic ability, Hill would probably pull it out.
Heck, if this was only about the ability to get to the hoop, Hill still might win.
But this is about winning and Hill never did this at the highest level.
Thomas was a battle-tested warrior that fought against the greatest to ever play this game, including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.
Thomas easily disposes of Hill and is our champion!