On Detroit’s final possession of the game, Rodney McGruder found himself open at the 3-point line. It was garbage time, with the game long since decided and the little-used reserve figured he’d try to turn a 28-point deficit into a 25-point one. He front-rimmed the shot, Luka Garza missed the putback and the buzzer sounded. The Detroit Pistons fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 117-89.
Just another loss for a team struggling mightily on the offensive end. Only it was more than that. The Pistons put up 47 threes and only made just 8 (17%) of them. No team in NBA history had put up that many 3s and made so few.
In fact, only four other teams in history had shot at least 45 an delivered a lower percentage than Detroit did in Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday. Unsurprisingly, those four other games occurred since 2019 as we live in a prolific 3-point era.
The Houston Rockets of last season hold the ignoble record of what is, pound for pound, the worst 3-point performance of all time. They connected on just 4 of 45 attempts (8.9%) in a 133-84 loss to the Memphis Grizzles.
I don’t want to kick a first-round pick while he’s down, but Cade Cunningham, playing in only his second game after missing all of training camp and the start of the season with an ankle injury, was the biggest offender.
The No. 1 overall pick went 0-of-9 from deep as it was clear he doesn’t have his legs under him and is still badly out of rhythm. Players are always allowed to have off nights, especially a rookie like Cunningham just coming back from injury. The problem was, even his ostensibly “reliable” teammates couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean.
Killian Hayes and Jerami Grant had perfectly respectful nights from the floor, with the two combining to shoot 11-of-20 and 6-of-12 from 3. Only one other Pistons made a 3-point shot. Trey Lyles, who hit 2-of-8 attempts.
The rest of the team? 19-of-73 (26%) from the floor and 2-of-35 (5.7%) from deep. Saddiq Bey, who would have likely set a rookie record for 3s made in a season last year if not for the shortened season was 0-of-4. Frank Jackson who shot over 40% on nearly 4 attempts per game was 0-for-5. Kelly Olynyk, the stretch big the Pistons signed in the offseason to open the floor up for Cade and Killian Hayes was 0-for-2.
In some ways, nothing about this Pistons team will make sense until shots start going in at a normal rate. That is when it will be clear if this is a run-of-the-mill bad team or one so poorly conceived, constructed and with a doomed game plan that changes will need to be made simply to salvage the development cycle of its young players.
But, hey, at least we’ll always have this one for the record books.