Where Does Detroit Rank Among Destinations for NBA Free Agents?

Where Does Detroit Rank Among Destinations for NBA Free Agents?
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

As the NBA free agency period continues to dominate headlines, the Detroit Pistons already have their newest franchise centerpiece.

Ausar Thompson, chosen fifth overall in this year’s NBA Draft, is a 6-foot-7 forward who skipped college and instead played in the Overtime Elite basketball league.

With this decision, the Pistons will be entering their latest franchise-defining chapter, one that will be crucial ahead of a stacked free agency class of 2024, and worth watching at Michigan sportsbooks.

About Pistons Rebuild

Within the last two seasons, the Pistons hit the reset button and immediately began their rebuilding phase. Their strategy was simple: Draft young assets and acquire talent with unlocked potential. Their backcourt will be shared by Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, former No. 1 and No. 5 overall selections in their respective draft classes.

Then, the Motor City acquired Marvin Bagley and James Wiseman, two former No. 2 overall picks, drafted in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Armed with a young and talented core, the Pistons are expected to at least reveal progress compared to their last two campaigns.

At Caesars Sportsbook Michigan, Thompson has +2500 odds of being named NBA Rookie of the Year.

The Pistons need to lean heavily on their strategy of building with youth, because Detroit has not been a choice destination for free agents lately.

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How We Complied This List

BetMichigan.com – your home for the best Michigan sports betting bonuses – compiled a system to determine the most desirable destinations within the league using a series of metrics.

We compiled data on state tax burdens (from WalletHub), media market ranking (from USTVDB.com, via Nielsen’s 2022-2023 DMA rankings) and city popularity (World'sBestCities.com, via Resonance Consultancy). We also calculated team-specific factors: Attendance rankings since the 2018-19 season (from ESPN.com), winning percentage since the 2019-20 season (Basketball-Reference.com) and 2024 NBA championship odds (SportsOddsHistory.com) to construct an aggregate ranking.

Toronto was not included on the list as we used only U.S. data.

We did not include attendance data from the 2020-21 NBA season, as COVID-19 protocols varied across the league. For Washington D.C.’s state tax income, we utilized data from nearby Virginia. Our 2024 NBA Championship odds are up to date as of July 5, 2023.

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NBA Cities Ranked By Desirability

RankCityCity Aggregate RankTeam Aggregate RankTotal Aggregate Rank
4LA (Lakers)1099.5
5LA (Clippers)109.339.67
8San Francisco13.678.3311
9New York1014.6712.33
17Salt Lake City201316.5
20Washington DC11.3323.6717.5
22Oklahoma City2011.6718.67
23San Antonio19.671919.33
26New Orleans20.3319.3319.83

Recent Pistons Free Agent History Barren

The most recent max contract from the Pistons was offered in 2016 to Andre Drummond, who was a restricted free agent. Since then, Motown has had one of the worst teams in the league, reaching the playoffs just once in the last seven seasons. Small wonder that DraftKings Michigan lists the over/under for Pistons wins in the 2023-24 season at 27.5.

Detroit’s lack of on-court success over the last decade has made it a less appealing destination for free agents in the future. Assuming draft and trade plans go as expected, they’ll be targeting a highly-prized veteran free agent in 2024 to help develop their young core. But Detroit is not the only place that free agents are avoiding.

NBA Free Agents Shy Away From Detroit

The Detroit Pistons have been ranked as the 24th city in the NBA for free agents, just ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, their team aggregate ranks indicate that the Motor City has had one of the best home attendances in the last season, ranking 12th, in the upper half of the league average.

Their average home attendance is 18,529, which proves that Pistons fans are optimistic about their electrifying, dynamic core led by Ivey, Cunningham, and now, Thompson. The Pistons finished 17-65, dead last in the entire league, in the 2022-23 season.

Now, Detroit will look to bounce back following the return of a healthy Cunningham. As of Tuesday afternoon, various Michigan sports betting apps had odds between +50000 and +60000 to win the 2023-24 NBA title.

The Pistons hope to replicate the NBA champion Denver Nuggets, who had a winning formula of drafting young assets and developing them into a championship-contending team with great chemistry.

The Pistons certainly have a long way to go, especially according to multiple sportsbooks. But if they begin to win games and at least make the playoffs, their future will look promising. If they do, this can potentially elevate them into the upper tier of the most-desirable cities in the NBA.




Felix Veletanga

Felix Veletanga is an experienced reporter who has covered local news, politics, and sports in Northern New Jersey, and now lends his expertise to the Michigan sports betting market. He previously covered the Saint Peter’s men’s basketball team’s 2022 NCAA Cinderella run for HudPost. Felix specializes in combat fighting and soccer betting analysis with a focus on the Premier League.

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