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Tony Mitchell could top Jonas Jerebko and Charlie Villanueva for rotation spot

Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks has said that neither Jonas Jerebko nor Charlie Villanueva has put a lock on the fourth big spot in the rotation, so maybe Mitchell could get in there quicker than originally thought.

“I think he played well,” Cheeks said afterward. “His attention to detail was good. I think you know he’s a rookie. He’s going to make some rookie mistakes. He made a few of them tonight, but veterans make mistakes, too.”

Given Maurice Cheeksstated preference toward veterans, I’d be surprised if Tony Mitchell wins the job, but it’s absolutely to Mitchell’s credit he’s in the race. Jonas Jerebko and Charlie Villanueva know they can’t take a rotation spot for granted, and Mitchell is still building a relatively strong case.

Mitchell has made an astounding 11-of-15 shots and is averaging more rebounds, blocks and assists and fewer turnovers per minute than Jerebko and Villanueva in the preseason. He’s also averaging considerably fewer points and considerably more fouls per minute than those two.

If Mitchell makes the rotation, the Pistons would be getting a low-usage, high-efficiency, mistake-prone player. At this point, I’d take that over Villanueva and maaaybe Jerebko. Considering Mitchell has the highest ceiling of the bunch and, as the youngest of the three by five years, the most room to grow, he’s even more appealing

It’s also possible Cheeks doesn’t have to decide immediately. Villanueva left Tuesday’s win over the Wizards with back soreness, and it’s possible both Jerebko and Mitchell fit into the initial rotation.

If the Pistons are missing enough guards (Brandon Jennings and/or Rodney Stuckey) when the season begins, that could trickle down into playing time for Mitchell. Chauncey Billups could slide from shooting guard to point guard, though that’s not even a requisite move here. Kyle Singler could slide from small forward to shooting guard, especially if Cheeks deems Kentavious Caldwell-Pope unready. Jerebko could slide from power forward to small forward. And then Mitchel could play at power forward.

That might even buy Mitchell enough time get his bearings and solidify a rotation spot. But if I had to guess now, Jerebko is the fourth big man, and Mitchell will begin the season glued to the bench while the game’s result is in question.

At minimum, Mitchell is making a case to make the active list nightly when everyone is healthy. Right now, even that isn’t guaranteed for him.


  • Oct 24, 201311:38 am
    by tarsier


    He seemed like a good shooter in college. If he can keep that up, I see no reason to ever put CV on the floor.

  • Oct 24, 201311:59 am
    by Ryank


    We all know CV only does one thing and he doesn’t do it very well.  Jonas…he doesn’t really do anything well…he’s average across the board, no real strengths or weaknesses.  He does work hard and that can payoff in non-playoff games…although it doesn’t standout in the playoffs because everyone plays harder then.

    I’m just hoping Mitchell can make both Smith and Monroe expendable by the end of next season.  If he is a double-double guy, tough defender, with a mid-range jumper, I don’t think it’s so far fetched as those who will blast me for the comment in forthcoming posts.  

    Joe D signed this second rounder a three year deal for a reason…  I think that reason is concern about another team paying him more than we can match at the end 

  • Oct 24, 201312:19 pm
    by picknroll


    I think we can all agree that we have seen enough of Charlie!!  I like Jerebko because he plays hard but I know as well that he has a limited game.  I’m not ready for any predictions for Mitchell, but am hoping he might be someone who really comes on during the season and solidifies a spot in the rotation!  

  • Oct 24, 20131:05 pm
    by Moonchild


    Charlie is a bum, i would say hes average at best, but hes a very poor rebounder and defender.  Mitchell is the new Shawn Marion (with a better shot), I think that we should def give him minutes if he continues to prove himself….I can almost envision him and Jonas as the new Hunter and James (in terms of energy, scoring and defense off the bench, i know they play different positions)

  • Oct 24, 20133:09 pm
    by Holy Crow


    Chilly Nilla Wafer has got Tony Mitchel’s shoe-print in his forehead. Who’s going to the D-league?

  • Oct 24, 20137:54 pm
    by AlC


    As much as I like Mitchell, the proper place for him is spending the first few weeks of the season in the League, in order to get acclimated to the scene and lifestyle, then to go down to the D-League where he can play major minutes and refine some things and keep his conditioning up, then hopefully rejoin us for about the last 30 or so games of the season.  20NBA-32DL-30NBA should be his season, give or take some games and depending on injuries.

  • Oct 25, 201311:51 am
    by anacaniwelk


    All 3 of them will play.  None of them is good enough to keep the job to himself.  Jerebko is my least favorite option.  He is absolutely useless defensively and a below average shooter.

  • Oct 25, 20132:59 pm
    by Chris


    So this may be a crazy thought…But with the potential Mitchel is showing, I seriously think Detroit will move Monroe by the trade deadline and take a run at Melo next season. Monroe has been my favorite Piston for a while, and I’d love to see him stay, but he appears to be the odd man out. Think about this, Monroe is moved for a upper level SG and a draft pick, freeing up cap space. We get rid of Stuckey, and Villa (as part of the Monroe deal or for picks) to free up more space. Move Smith to PF permanently, Mitchel is looking like he could be a solid 3rd big, let Singler, Luigi, and even Jerbko duke it out at SF, and we go after Melo next year in free agency and still have a shot at the playoffs this as long as we get a solid SG in return for Monroe (also gives KCP time to adjust to the NBA).   I know LA and New York will throw boat loads of money at Melo, but he doesn’t appear to be happy in New York and the only thing he gains by going to LA is to play in another big market with another team full of geriatrics and that black hole of a ball hog in Kobe. It seems to me he is at the point in his career that he might be willing to take a championship shot over money, and with our solid young and talented core, that could be enough to sway him…or I could just be crazy haha

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