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Brandon Jennings has opportunity with Pistons to transform his reputation

Brandon Jennings’ critics say he’s been inefficient.

They’re right.

But now that Jennings is with the Pistons, he has a real opportunity to limit his inefficiencies. Maybe then, observers will notice what he does well.

Pass

Jennings is actually a good passer with decent court vision.

In Milwaukee, he shot the ball a lot and probably didn’t pass enough. But even through all of his missed shots, he averaged 6.5 assists per game last year, which ranked 16th in the NBA. That’s not exactly an elite mark, but it’s decent for someone known to never pass.

Dan previously argued Jennings wasn’t actually surrounded by bad shooters earlier in his Bucks tenure, and that’s true. But Jennings was still expected to be the No. 1 scoring option, and that led him to take too many terrible shots.

That past mistake won’t necessarily affect Jennings with the Pistons, though.

In Detroit, with all of the offensive weapons around Jennings, nobody expects him to automatically assume the role of No. 1 option. Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are also capable of leading the team in scoring. And Chauncey Billups can still create his own shot in times of need when he’s on the court.

Get to the rim

Jennings is good at repeatedly driving to the rim – he ranked 29th in layup attempts last season – but he he’s not very good at finishing once he gets there. He shot just 49.5 percent on layups last year, 8.1 percentage points below the league average.

Too often, he collapsed in a heap around the basket near defenders or struggled with his dysfunctional right hand as he shot left-handed layups from the right side.

But as an excellent pick-and-roll ball handler, Jennings can use his slashing ability to set up teammates rather than just attempting to score – especially with the Pistons. Drummond and Monroe especially, but also Smith, are great at setting picks and rolling to the basket.

Defend well enough

Jennings regressed defensively the last couple years, a fact Bucks fans are quick to point out.

But the Pistons give Jennings a chance to look more competent defensive maybe if for no other reason than he seems to be more personally investing in this team than his previous one. But there are other reasons, too.

Jennings is a better defender than Monta Ellis, and that meant more defensive responsibility for Jennings in Milwaukee. In Detroit, Jennings won’t carry that burden.

Maurice Cheeks has raved about the defense of Rodney Stuckey, who very well could be Jennings’ primary backcourt partner. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has also shown good defense during summer league and preseason, and he could develop into getting big minutes at shooting guard.

Plus, a shot-blocking frontline that includes Drummond and Smith might be even more imposing the Bucks’ Larry Sanders-anchored defense. That should take pressure off Jennings, too.

Get a fresh start

So, where can Jennings, a once seemingly budding star who lost his way, play to his potential?

Maybe on a team where he can shoot a reasonable amount and pass to quality scorers rather than be the No. 1 offensive option.

Maybe on a team where he can drive and drop off passes rather than finish every time.

Maybe on a team where he can defend within his means rather than attempt to compensate a bad defensive shooting guard.

Maybe on the Detroit Pistons.

7 Comments

  • Oct 29, 20136:17 pm
    by Ryan

    Reply

    If Brandon Jennings learns to work as hard as Brandon Knight does then he might progress here. I don’t see good reason to believe that’ll happen but it might. If it does Jennings could become a solid starter.

    • Oct 30, 20139:14 am
      by Jameson Draper

      Reply

      Why do you say that? Knight worked hard and wasn’t necessarily good here. I’d say Jennings already is a “solid” starter, he just has the skills to progress to that next level.

  • Oct 29, 20139:05 pm
    by i!

    Reply

    Bucks fan here. I agree with this post — I think that a lot of Jennings’ flaws come from being miscast as a No. 1 option in Milwaukee. Not a good enough scorer, and he became undisciplined when it became apparent that he was the Bucks’ best option even when he was half-assing it.

    But I definitely remember extended stretches where he demonstrated pass-first basketball, competent defense, and coachability. Not necessarily all three at the same time, and less so recently than early in his career, but I think he’s got a real chance to turn it around in the right environment.

  • Oct 29, 201310:48 pm
    by Kathy Clater

    Reply

    Had heard the negative attitude and locker room talk like everyone else, but that article in the link was eye opening.  Sure hope he takes advantage of fresh start and we don’t see that nonsense here.

  • Oct 30, 20138:53 am
    by RyanK

    Reply

    And just like that we see much of what’s been reported about Dumars is based on opinion, not fact.  All along I was critical of those who said Dumars is on the verge of being fired because no one other than bloggers and media reports suggested it…stating opinions as if they are facts with nothing support it . Now the horses mouth has cleared the air on the topic.

    Tom Gores on Dumars being on the hot seat:
    A:
     He’s not. Joe and I collaborated on these moves, we talk every other day. He’s done everything we’ve asked, and his basketball organization is really solid. I’m excited where they’re at. I don’t think I could’ve asked for more this summer

    From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131030/SPORTS0102/310300025#ixzz2jCzpQFpl

  • Oct 30, 20139:26 am
    by Vic

    Reply

    I totally agree. When I saw his early March 2013 stats where he averaged like 15 assists over 3 games, I was totally sold. 
    He fits like a glove on this team. A 3 point shooter with pg talent, and a killer instinct. 

  • [...] Brandon Jennings has opportunity with Pistons to transform his reputation: By Jameson Draper (@jamdraper) [...]

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