Tonight at 8 p.m. the Detroit Pistons (1-8) and Houston Rockets (1-9) will face off on ESPN. This may be the worst NBA basketball game that ESPN has ever shown. It's unfortunate, but this is the hand ESPN was dealt. through some unfortunate circumstances.
First, there was potential when this broadcast was scheduled before the season began. The game will feature the top two picks in the 2021 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, it only took a few weeks for it to become clear that it did not feature the top two players in the 2021 NBA Draft.
Cade Cunningham, the surefire no-brainer No. 1 pick in the draft got a late start to his season and has struggled since joining the Pistons' lineup. The good news is that he's coming off arguably the best game of his career. The bad news is that means he still only went 6-for-17 from the field and turned the ball over six times.
Jalen Green, the second pick in the draft, has also had some struggles. He had two great games, including a 30 point performance against the Celtics where he hit eight of ten three pointers, but he still finds himself way down on NBA.com's rookie ladder. He's well behind the third and fourth picks in the draft, Evan Mobley and Scottie Barnes.
Obviously, we're working with a small sample size here. Green and Cunningham could both salvage their rookie years since there are 70-plus games remaining. Both guys could end up back at the top of their class. It's just that right now at this moment, they're not the kind of guys that have a lot of juice. Neither Cunningham or Green is currently inspiring LaMelo Ball or Zion Williamson-type interest.
On top of the disappointing rookies, these teams are just bad. It's possible that ESPN has broadcast a game featuring teams with a winning percentage worse than Detroit and Houston's combined 11.7%, but it would have to be two good teams that dropped their season-openers or something like that. There's little to no chance these teams aren't looking at high lottery picks again next summer.
This is just a bad game featuring two bad teams with two currently mediocre rookies. It's the perfect storm for a bad basketball game, which means it will most definitely be a thrilling contest that comes down to the wire. This league, am I right?