He was the superstar the team lacked, and his scoring and rebounding was going to put Detroit in the thick of the playoff race.
The deal for Griffin has made a difference, but not in the way it was expected heading into Thursday's visit to the Denver Nuggets.
The Pistons (30-37) were postseason contenders in the Eastern Conference when they got Griffin but now they're essentially planning for the draft lottery.
Detroit has lost eight of its last 10 after Griffin was 5 of 16 in 110-79 loss at Utah.
Now things don't get any easier against a team in the hunt for a Western Conference playoff spot.
Denver (37-31) is coming off a 112-103 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, which puts added importance on Thursday's game. After playing the Pistons the Nuggets are on the road for seven games and enter Thursday after blowing a 13-point lead to the Lakers.
"I thought we had some guys out there in that end of the third quarter that were not ready to play," Denver coach Mike Malone said. "That hurt us to close that quarter in a big way."
That means beating a Detroit team that is winless in its last 10 road games and 1-15 in its last 16 road games. in its last 15 road games is essential, and the players know it. They know where they are 10th in the standings but only a game out of seventh with 14 games to go.
It's a lot of pressure for a young team, but the Nuggets have a veteran in Paul Millsap to show them how to handle it.
"It's easier said than done, especially with a younger group," Millsap said recently. "We just try to keep calm and tell them to get our heads (together) and lay it all on the line. That's all we can do right now. We've got to win games for us to get to the playoffs and that's got to be our main focus."
Denver hasn't played poorly, it's just other teams have caught fire. The Nuggets are 14-8 since mid-January but Utah has won 19 of 21 in roughly the same stretch to vault over them in the standings.
The Pistons were the latest victim for the Jazz, who scored 42 in the first quarter and led by as many as 39.
"That game was over in one quarter," Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy said after the loss. "They came out and blitzed us.
Detroit reeled off five straight wins after trading for Griffin on Jan. 30 and moved a game above .500. Since then the Pistons are 3-11 and are five games behind Miami for the last playoff spot.
The Pistons might have Reggie Bullock back in the lineup after he missed Tuesday's game with a sore back resulting from a Sunday morning car accident. It was a minor accident but he was held out against the Jazz.
"It's just soreness I'm dealing with," Bullock told The Detroit Free Press. "It's nothing that I've never dealt with before."
The Pistons won't have guard Reggie Jackson, who has been out since Dec. 26 with a Grade 3 ankle sprain. He is on the trip and says things are improving.
"Getting better, slowly, but surely getting better," Jackson told The Free Press. "Still not where I want it to be but it's getting better."
Not having their starting point guard against a motivated and finally healthy Denver team will make things tough for Detroit.