NBA mailbag: The divergent paths of the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons

Alperen Sengun and the Houston Rockets are off to an impressive start this season. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Over the last three seasons, the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets were easily the NBA's two least successful teams on the court, winning 59 games (Houston) and 60 (Detroit), respectively. Piling up losses yielded those teams a series of lottery picks, including the top two in 2022 (Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green) and twins Amen and Ausar Thompson this year.

After adding Dillon Brooks, Fred VanVleet and other veterans in free agency, the Rockets have shown dramatic improvement early in the 2023-24 season, including a recent six-game winning streak.

Conversely, the Pistons have yet to turn the corner despite signing coach Monty Williams to a deal that made him the NBA's highest-paid coach at the time (Gregg Popovich has since surpassed him). Detroit remains mired near the bottom of the NBA standings at 2-10.

What can we learn from the contrasting approaches taken this summer by the Pistons and Rockets? And how can Detroit get the same kind of development out of Cunningham that we've seen from Houston's young talent this season?

Throughout the NBA season, I will answer your questions about the latest, most interesting topics in basketball, which can be sent directly to peltonmailbag@gmail.com.

Let's get to this week's Pistons- and Rockets-themed questions.

"Does putting better players or offensive structure around prospects lead to development? Basically thinking of Houston and how Green and Alperen Sengun look so much better playing off of FVV and Brooks." -- Saurabh