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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: September 6, 6:02 PM ET
No. 80: Detroit Pistons

By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 113
Title track: 31
Ownership: 79
Coaching: 92
Players: 106
Fan relations: 91
Affordability: 31
Stadium experience: 69
Bang for the buck: 87

Turning around the Detroit Pistons, as with the city of Detroit, isn't overnight work. After eight straight playoff-caliber seasons, including four conference finals, one NBA Finals and the 2004 title, Detroit has won a total of 82 games in the past three seasons. But at least the Pistons don't gouge their fans for a mediocre product: After nearly a 7 percent reduction in fan costs during the 2010-11 season, management lopped off another 2.4 percent last season, resulting in average ticket prices 15 percent below league average. Bargain-basement pricing only partly explains the Pistons' 33-spot rise in our Standings, though. New owner Tom Gores has the decided advantage of not being the old owner. "He really hasn't done anything significant yet, but he's not Karen Davidson," says Dan Feldman of TrueHoop blog PistonPowered.com. "He wants to own this team. She didn't." Then there was last year's finish: 21-21 after a 4-20 start. "That might be seeing a pattern where none exists, the schedule getting easier or another meaningless factor ," Feldman says. "But it certainly feels like progress." In Detroit, that's close enough.