NBA Analyst Highlights How the 80s Detroit Pistons Have Significantly Impacted the Current Teams

Published 08/02/2020, 3:46 PM EDT

As the years go by, the NBA keeps evolving. Obviously the game isn’t the same now as it was in the 60s or the 70s. The intensity of the approach might be the same more or less. But the technicality of the game is different now. The way players and coaches strategize positions and effective plays have evolved a lot over the years. 


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Rashad Phillips, a former basketball player is now an analyst who also runs his own show called ‘Sports Talk 2319.’ Philips talked a great deal of basketball with his latest guest, Isiah Thomas who also happens to be a two-time NBA champion. 

When you hear about the Detroit Pistons of the late 80s, a smiling image of Isiah Thomas should come to your mind. Isaiah led the infamous ‘Bad Boys Pistons’, a team that won back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. 


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Phillips was in high praise of Isiah and his dominant Pistons team. “When I look at NBA teams today, Zeke, the fabric of the Detroit Pistons kind of lives in every NBA team today,” he said. 

“When you look at two dominant ball-handlers, what you guys had with you and Joe [Dumars], the stretch big, [Bill] Laimbeer, the hybrid posts, [John] Salley, Dennis Rodman, and the side pick and rolls and the high pick and rolls, that is what the NBA is today,” Phillips exclaimed. 

Are the current NBA teams inspired by the 80s Pistons? 

The Pistons had a very dynamic team back in the 80s. As Phillips mentioned they had a versatile lineup that could adapt to different roles based on the situation. It was not like a player should stick to his position in the game. There are no rigid structures now. 

Adaptability is the key, and many teams are building lineups that contain versatile players who can play different positions. If you take the Denver Nuggets as an example, they displayed an amazing game when big-man Nikola Jokic filled in as the team’s point guard.

King LeBron James is a clear example of a hybrid player. He’s been the Lakers’ primary ball-handler, playing as a point-guard, stepping out from his natural small forward position. There are several other players who drop in from their natural position to play a different role for the team. 

The Oklahoma City Thunder have a talented lineup. They have got Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who can both play as point guards. Steven Adams and Danilo Gallinari, two towering athletes who can cause problems along with the other two in the team. Teams like the Raptors and the Warriors also sport hybrid lineups in the NBA. 

It has become a much common factor now. Players aren’t sticking to a single position and are open to playing on different areas of the court. That is how the game has evolved now. “I’m watching the Detroit Pistons in today’s NBA offensively,” Rashad Phillips told Isiah Thomas. 

Rashad Phillips says Isiah Thomas can win a three-peat if he plays now 

Besides praising the Pistons for being way ahead of their time in the NBA, Phillips showered Isiah Thomas with compliments about his talent. Phillips believes that if an athlete like Isiah Thomas played in today’s game he would be the same great player he was. 

The Isiah from the 80s could very excel in the 2020 NBA, according to Rashad Phillips. “You are one of the few that I can take ‘89 Isaiah Thomas and put him in today’s NBA and he’s a superstar.”


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When you look at the fabric of the NBA today the Detroit Pistons roster began a trend of “Hybrid Lineups” in the late 80’s. Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley and more. Two handlers, athletes and stretch bigs. 🎯

— Rashad Phillips (@RP3natural) August 2, 2020

“If I put you on a Philadelphia 76ers right now; if I take ‘89 Isiah and drop him in the Philadelphia 76ers, the Philadelphia 76ers are probably going to be three-peating. That’s how relevant your game was,” Phillips said.


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SOURCE: Rashad Phillips – Twitter


Arjun Athreya

1719 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.