Following an arduous and disappointing 1992-93 season, the Detroit Pistons' "Bad Boys" knew that the beginning of the end had come. Even before the summer training camp opened, Dennis Rodman had already left for the San Antonio Spurs, Rick Mahorn had long been traded, and Bill Laimbeer was already contemplating retirement.
In the backcourt, Joe Dumars was already 30 years old and at the end of his prime. Given the game's physicality back then, most players were already pretty banged up by that age. And on top of it all, Detroit knew that Isiah Thomas wouldn't be around for too long.
The Pistons were banking on their picks
The Pistons were prompted to rely on the future, so the front office knew they had to be smart about their draft picks. In the 1993 NBA Draft, Detroit had a good shot at landing two decent first-rounders, having the 10th and 11th picks in the draft.
With Thomas and Dumars still around, the Pistons hoped to acquire size from that year's crop. However, then Detroit general manager Billy McKinney admitted that they "just can't pass on talent." Therefore, the team went for guards and selected Tennessee's Allan Houston at 11 and Jackson State standout, Lindsey Hunter at 10.
The next Isiah Thomas
Houston and Hunter had pretty impressive resumes, but before coming up with the decision, the Pistons were closely watching tapes of the two young and talented players.
At the time, the Pistons front office knew what to do with Houston because of his God-given shooting skills. Hunter, on the other hand, had bigger shoes to fill. And he welcomed it brimming with confidence.
"I'm a young Isiah," Hunter said via NBA.com's Draft Tales. "I love to play defense. I can shoot. I'm a little cocky like him. I just met him a little while ago and I almost fainted. Here's the guy I've always looked up to and now I get the chance to play with him. I've tried to play like Isiah since I was small. He's the greatest point guard ever to play the game."
Surprisingly, Thomas himself acknowledged Hunter's qualities and quickly endorsed the youngster in a way any NBA rookie would want to.
"The coaches gave me a tape of him and I just couldn't believe what I was seeing," Thomas said of Hunter. "I took it home and told my wife, 'You've got to see this.' Not since I came into the league and Tim Hardaway have I seen a guy with that kind of dribbling ability."
Hunter and Houston went on to have a great run season with the Pistons. In fact, Hunter made the 1993-94 NBA All-Rookie team, having averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Houston, meanwhile, progressed to become a different animal. He continuously improved his scoring and logged 19.7 points per game in his last season with the Pistons. However, even when we look back at it, one thing remains a fact- they never achieved the same type of success as the backcourt duo of Thomas and Dumars running the show in Detroit before them.