There was a time early in this decade when the Detroit Pistons' model for success succeeded. It was based on the notion that four good offensive players could carry a great defensive player, with issues on the offensive side of the ball.
Now in 2009, Kobe Bryant—who was part of that team that the Pistons beat—is now of course on the defending NBA champions, and it looks now like they will be tough defenders of their crown at season's end.
The one constant in all of this has been Ben Wallace, who is and has been a very good defensive player for the Pistons, back in 2004, when the team won its last championship. The team went deep into the playoffs every year while Wallace anchored the defense.
The other constant in this battle has been the fact that he is not a very good offensive player. The 2009 team is attempting to return to contention in the Eastern Conference, and it doesn't appear to be working as well as it did back then.
To make matters worse, if that is possible, now the team has reloaded with two other centers who are not any better than Big Ben is on the jump shot side of the game. Kwame Brown, a first round draft pick by Michael Jordan, no less, is unable to demonstrate any offensive finesse or competency with the rock. And the addition of Chris Wilcox has not made the Pistons better offensively.
Matters are far worse because, in 2004 Ben Wallace was good enough on the defensive side of the ball, that the team could overcome his lack of offense and poor free-throw shooting, perhaps the Leagues worst. Now he is clearly near the end of a great career, mainly for his time in Detroit, not so much with the Chicago Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Pistons are trying to contend with an aging Wallace and two other centers, who cannot seem to get their own shots on a regular game time basis. That's why this model no longer works. The other players are not good enough offensively to overcome the lack of scoring coming from the post.
What this means for Piston players and their fans is another long season—perhaps one of much frustration. You know it's bad when a chief rival, LeBron James, tells the local Detroit media, that he doesn't consider the Pistons to be real competitors, of his team—and they then go out and blowout, what had been a rather close game.