Detroit Pistons' All-Time Starting 5

Jakub Rudnik@jakubrudnikContributor IIIAugust 15, 2013

Detroit Pistons' All-Time Starting 5

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    The Detroit Pistons have had many great players and at every position, boasting a combined 103 NBA All-Star appearances in franchise history and having 15 former Pistons currently in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

    Members of the Pistons' all-time starting five are an exclusive group, the best of the best.

    The Pistons' all-time starting five includes one player from each of the standard five positions— point guard, shooting guard, small forward and center. Each player must have played at least one full season starting at that position for the Pistons.

    Winning an NBA championship with the team is important as a qualification, but not essential to making the lineup. Statistics, All-Star appearances, All-NBA and All-Defensive team selections and Hall of Fame membership are factored into selecting the best starting five in Pistons' history.

Point Guard: Isiah Thomas

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    With all due respect to Dave Bing and Chauncey Billups, Isiah Thomas is the best point guard in Pistons' history by far.

    The No. 2 overall pick out of Indiana in the 1981 NBA draft played each of his 13 NBA seasons with the Pistons. Over 979 career games, he averaged 19.2 points, 9.3 assists and 1.9 steals.

    Thomas was a pure point guard who looked to pass first and got the most out of his teammates. He was an incredible competitor and one of the toughest players the league has seen. 

    He led the Pistons to nine playoff appearances during his tenure, including their first two NBA championships in 1989 and 1990. He was named the NBA Finals MVP in 1990.

    Thomas made 12 All-Star teams and was named to five All-NBA teams (three as a first-team selection). In 1996, he was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. In 2000, he was elected to the Hall of Fame as Detroit's franchise leader in points, assists and steals.

Shooting Guard: Joe Dumars

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    Isiah Thomas' backcourt mate, Joe Dumars was the best shooting guard in the Pistons' franchise history.

    Like Thomas, Dumars spent his entire career of 14 seasons with the Pistons, posting career averages of 16.1 points and 4.5 steals. He made six All-Star teams and was named to three All-NBA teams.

    While Thomas ran the offense, Dumars was the best perimeter defender of the 'Bad Boys' era, making five All-NBA Defensive teams from 1989-93 (four on the first team). His defense on Michael Jordan was imperative for the Pistons in the 1989 and 1990 Eastern Conference finals.

    He was one of the leaders of the 1988-89 and 1989-90 championship teams for Detroit and won the NBA Finals MVP in 1989. He averaged over 15 points and four assists in 112 career playoff games.

    Dumars was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. He is the franchise leader in three-point baskets, second behind Thomas in overall points and assists, and ranks third in steals.

Small Forward: Dave DeBusschere

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    Dave DeBusschere was a hometown guy who was the best two-way small forward the Pistons have ever had.

    He was a tenacious defender who could guard three positions. There was no NBA All-Defensive team while he was with the Pistons, but he made the  NBA All-Defensive First Team first team in his final six NBA seasons with the Knicks. He played before extensive statistics for steals and blocks were tracked, but he averaged over 11 rebounds five times for the Pistons.

    Offensively, he averaged over 16 points per game for his career, with a career high of 18.2 in 1967. He played before the the existence of the three-point arc, yet consistently took shots from beyond 20 feet.

    DeBusschere never won a championship with the Pistons, but he was a member of the New York Knicks teams that won titles in 1970 and 1973. He is a Hall of Famer and was named one of the NBA's Greatest 50 Players

Power Forward: Dennis Rodman

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    Before the hair dye and Bad as I Wanna Be book toursDennis Rodman was simply one of the most dynamic defenders to ever play for Detroit.

    Offensively he played both forward positions, but Rodman could guard every position on the floor effectively. He was an eight-time All-Defensive team member (five with the Pistons) and was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and in 1991. His only two All-Star appearances came as a Piston in 1990 and 1992.

    He was also one of the greatest rebounders the game has ever seen. He led the league in rebounding seven consecutive seasons from 1992-98, the first two of which came with the Pistons. 

    Rodman's defense was crucial to the 1988-89 and 1989-90 championship teams, which were two of the best NBA defensive squads ever assembled. They gave up just 99 points per 100 possessions when he was on the court during the 1989 playoffs, for the lowest of any rotation player. He was second in that category in 1990 to teammate Bill Laimbeer.

    Even with just six seasons in Detroit, he ranks fourth in franchise history in rebounds and eighth in blocks. The Pistons retired his jersey in 2011, the same year he was elected to the Hall of Fame

Center: Bob Lanier

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    While both Ben Wallace and Bill Laimbeer played for NBA championship teams in Detroit, Bob Lanier is the best center in Pistons' history.

    The No. 1 overall pick in 1970 played his first nine full seasons in Detroit before being traded to Milwaukee. After his rookie season, he averaged at least 21 points and nine rebounds each season in Detroit and made seven All-Star teams from 1972-79. He also averaged at least three assists per game over seven seasons.

    Lanier was known for his offensive talents, but he was also solid on the defensive end. He averaged three blocks and 1.4 steals in 1973-74: the first season the NBA kept track of both stats. That same year, he had the best defensive rating in the league at 88.

    Lanier has the highest scoring average in franchise history (22.7), is second all-time in rebounds and third in blocked shots and total points. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1992.