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At EuroBasket, Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome compete for Pistons playing time

Jonas Jerebko cut hard, pump faked, drew Luigi Datome’s fifth foul while making a layup and converted the free throw to tie Sweden’s EuroBasket game with Italy late in the fourth quarter.

Gigi was done for the night, and Italy eventually finished off Jerebko’s Sweden (82-79), but the competition between these two is just beginning.

Because the Pistons have so many players who play multiple positions, the ripple effects of any lineup adjustment can be felt everywhere in the rotation. That’s why a combo forward like Jerebko and a small forward like Datome are competing for minutes, even if Jerebko is more likely to play power forward on this Detroit team.

Today, Jerebko outdid Datome, notching 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists to Datome’s seven points in 13 minutes. But Sweden needed Jerebko more than Italy needed Datome, whose outside shooting might make him a better fit in a Pistons lineup that will heavily feature Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.

As I argued last year, Jerebko’s inclusion into the rotation is dependent on his willingness to accepter a lesser role. Lawrence Frank got a hard time for benching Jerebko early, but Frank was justified based on Jerebko deciding to shoot a lot (without making many baskets) and not do much else. Hopefully, Jerebko has accepted his NBA niche as a hustle player with a better-than-average jumper for that role. If he hasn’t, hopefully Maurice Cheeks can work with Jerebko on his outlook rather than banish him to the end of the bench like Frank did.

When Jerebko stepped to the free-throw line today, he was drenched in sweat, his face red and his hair disheveled. He clearly hasn’t stopped playing hard. In this setting, it’s as co-top player with Jeffery Taylor. In Detroit, Jerebko must play hard differently, working to get loose balls rather than jump shots.

For Datome, the path to at least cracking the Pistons’ rotation is simpler: make shots. After scoring 25 points and making 3-of-4 3-pointers against Russia in Italy’s EuroBasket opener, he’s shot just 4-of-16 from beyond the arc, including 1-of-3 today. He might have to prove himself a better shooter from distance, but then again, the Pistons might be so starved for floor spacing that he plays regularly anyway.

Jerebko and Datome are both in the thick of the Pistons’ position battles, and both had a chance to make an impression today. Whose performance rates higher is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholders who matter most, Joe Dumars and George David, are in Slovenia watching.

9 Comments

  • Sep 9, 20134:18 pm
    by Otis

    Reply

    The real bottom line seems to be that this team ain’t big enough for all the players who are worthy of minutes. Which is only a good problem to have if Dumars can find a way to balance things out. (Or, of course, if the team is just flat-out winning, but that pretty much goes without saying.) I’m not nearly as interested in any of these position battles as I am with what happens to the “spare parts” after the rotation has been sorted out. If guys like Jerebko and Datome and Mitchell and Villanueva are all similarly talented end-of-the-rotation material, as it seems they probably are, the only people who should really care which of them gets our Big Three’s leftover minutes are the players involved and their few HARDCORE fans.
     
    If clear winners emerge, more power to them (and to Dumars). It would be very nice if Datome, for example, transitions smoothly into the NBA and establishes himself as our best small forward. But if no clear winners emerge and there’s just a handful of flawed, mediocre options (as has been the case in the past with these marginal position battles) then Joe is going to have some players who are both worthy of minutes and justifiably disgruntled. That’s not a good problem to have. Assuming Joe refuses to make any trades, I’d rather have (A) between 7 and 9 LOCKS for the rotation and a few marginal role players who are clearly weak links who could stand to be upgraded, than (B) 13 or 14 guys who are legitimate end-of-the-rotation guys at worst, who all clearly deserve minutes, who on any given night could be our best player or could be a DNP-CD. I just think that’s a recipe for more mutinies.

  • Sep 9, 20135:48 pm
    by Russell

    Reply

    I’ve been watching the games.  My thoughts on the two

    Jerebko:

    Skinnier than ever
    Great hair
    SLOW footed on offensive lateral moves (still favoring Achilles?) 
    Still not a passer
    Vocal leader of the team 
    Active on D
    Too many long-evolving fadeaway jumpers
    Too bad, because he looks good going to the basket and drawing fouls

    Datome

    Skinny (but maybe wirey?)
    Good passer
    Killer shooter, even though he had a couple of down games…the d was focused on his perimeter attempts
    Fouls a ton because…
    He. Sucks. On. D.  Like, barely tries.  Easily beaten, loses his place off the ball, pretty putrid
    (However, I remember Belineli being like that, and his transformation has been a revelation)
    But, seriously, bad defender.
    Great on offensive rebounds/being in the right place
    Solid finisher
    Not a vocal leader, but is the smoothest guy in terms of demeanor

    I havent been too impressed by wither of them, however, they are not totally fumbling this tourney. 

    • Sep 11, 20131:03 pm
      by gtg2013

      Reply

      “SLOW footed on offensive lateral moves (still favoring Achilles?) ”
       
      Yeah, I was thinking that last year, he hasn’t seemed to have fully recovered. Which would not be unexpected, really. I remember when Achilles injuries were automatic career-enders.

  • Sep 9, 20138:03 pm
    by Serge

    Reply

    Those are highlights if you all are interested in just a coupla plays.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVpIZNd9828 

  • Sep 9, 20138:39 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    Datome sucks worse than CV on D from what I’ve seen. But it’s not that bad because he’ll just be a backup SF there to shoot 3s… And his shot is pretty special from what I see, so he’ll fit perfectly into that role.

    Jerebko is still a great cutter and hustle guy… Good defender… Hope he gets minutes in small ball rotations.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Singler beats out both of them… He’s a two-way player, even though he’s average on offense and defense… Singler is not as much a liability on offense/defense as Jerebko/Datome respectively. 

  • Sep 10, 201312:03 am
    by pistons moribund

    Reply

    Datome looks like an Tay if he were white and italian with a much smoother shooting stroke and a beard.  Same kind of gaunt and thin.  From seeing all the games, seems to defer to the hot hand when there is one.  Good passer and had some really nice drop offs and moves the ball pretty good.  On the game where he didnt score, he passed the ball off a lot to his team and didnt have that get mine attitude.  During the other games, he scored when his team needed him to and was more aggressive when asked to attack the basket, ie, everyone standing and looking at him.  No real point guard on the team and a lot of mismatches against him.  Sometimes he would defend the PF or C.  Probably because he is tall.  Very hard to gauge how he is going to turn out by the difference in the competition.  He has good vision and court sense and makes the extra pass and tries not to force things on occasion even tough he is clearly the smartest player on the court.
    JJ on the other hand is hard to watch.  He is really trying hard and I appreciate that but I think he sometime over estimates his true ability.  Plays outside his limits which sometimes makes for really ugly basketball, almost cringe worthy.  While his team certainly depend on him more then Datome, he doesn’t seem to make his team mates better.  He seems to be going all out and trying to win the game all by himself while Datome picks his spots and understands his limitations and strengths much more. 
    The Italians have a kind of style that is both selfish and passionate.  The Swedish team is what you expect from someone who eats Surströmming, kind of mechanical, forced, and emotionless.  Like going to IKEA and loving the furniture there.  It all looks good but its a stop gap because you want to look broke and stylish all at the same time.  But you know there is something better out there, you just haven’t seen it yet.
    His name is Datome

  • Sep 10, 20132:33 pm
    by Moonchild

    Reply

    Get rid of Charlie V and give Jonas those minutes

  • Sep 12, 201312:02 am
    by Mike

    Reply

    This month is so frustrating, even though the lions tigers are playing, I miss my Pistons and Wings.  These random post just get the blood flowing.  After we make the playoffs it’ll be funny to see all the post grow after next offseason.  I’m with Otis curious to see we’re are leftovers go 

  • Sep 12, 20132:07 pm
    by JOB

    Reply

    Bench rebounding is not looking good. Hopefully CV and JJ realize that hard defensive rebounding will likely give one the edge of the other (or JSJ: jean shorts josh will be our first big), and hopefully it’s CV that does it since you can actually run plays w him on offense. But if JJ doesnt show the ability to volume defensive rebound in the 2nd unit minutes… why play him at all?
    Not really worth discussing Datome until he starts playing on a floor with athletes. He may need 6 months of NBA practices before being ready for the speed difference. Teletovic… i saw him in brooklyn several times last year. He’s got a great stand still shot, but you could tell he wasn’t used to the speed and not just of closeouts or when he was defending, but even perimeter passes (whip arounds) he could often barely handle.

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