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3-on-3: Reviewing losses in Portland and Oakland

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. There’s not a whole lot to like about the first two games of this western road trip, but who has impressed you most for the Pistons?

Dan Feldman: Andre Drummond. After a little lull, this has been the Drummond I hoped to see this season. He had 16 points, 16 rebounds, two steals and a block against Portland and then followed with 16 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocks against Golden State. I’m not convinced this a turning point rather than a randomly positive spell, but for now, I’ll take bursts of brilliance from Drummond.

Jameson Draper: Drummond. He’s been killing it on the boards and playing relatively well on offense. There’s not much to discuss about his game other than that he’s a budding star, and he seems to be making small improvements with each game. He’s been really fun to watch.

Tim Thielke: Is there any answer besides Drummond? In the two games he has 32 points, 30 boards (15 of them offensive), four blocks, five steals, zero turnovers and hit 16-of-19 shots. If the Pistons had won those games, Drummond would probably have won Eastern Conference Player of the Week, something no current Piston but Rodney Stuckey has ever done.

2. Brandon Jennings was supposed to be trying to evolve into a true point guard. Early in this road trip, he’s been quite the opposite — is this a concern going forward for the now-struggling Pistons?  

Dan Feldman: No more so than it was before. I never believed Jennings would magically transform into more of a passer, but I thought — and still do — his talent upgrade would help. Hopefully, Jennings find a happier medium, but the Pistons have much bigger fish to fry — mainly patching the holes in their defense.

Jameson Draper: I don’t think it’s an issue. I don’t know about everyone else, but I really like what Jennings is doing. He’s slowly breaking out of his former shell, averaging a career high in assists thus far. He’s spreading the ball around and shooting at a relatively efficient rate. I’d like to see him become a little bit more of a point guard, but I like what we have seen so far.

Tim Thielke: Yes, Jennings plays with some very efficient scorers in Greg Monroe and Drummond. He should make opponents pay when they focus on stopping those two, but he has been calling his own number far too often when that hasn’t been the case.

3. Josh Smith’s lackluster stretch reached a possible breaking point last night when Maurice Cheeks kept him glued to the bench for much of the massacre at Golden State. How do you think he rebounds these last two games?

Dan Feldman: I like Josh Smith‘s attitude. I doubt he’s fazed. There are few, if any, questions about his effort. For better or worse, I bet he goes back to being the same Smith he’s been his whole career, including so far with the Pistons.

Jameson Draper: He needs to quietly dominate. In the first half against Portland, I really liked what I saw from Smith. He was 4-5 from the field, distributing and playing stellar defense. That was the last good thing I’ve seen out of him. Hopefully in their next games, Smith can go under the radar and play some solid basketball.

Tim Thielke: Smith had a couple bad games. It happens to everyone. But he probably won’t spend much time in the next two games matched up with DeMarcus Cousins or Pau Gasol. Smith should dominate anyone else in those games.

18 Comments

  • Nov 14, 201311:26 am
    by Vic

    Reply

    I want to put the blame squarely on Joe Dumars for Jennings regression, which has regressed the team (at least on the offensive end… For defense, its all on Cheeks and not playing KCP.)
    Jennings actually started out well and had his best game with 21 points and 11 assists… then Joe Dumars happened.
    http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2013/11/brandon_jennings_attempts_most.html
    “Jennings focused on playmaking responsibilities after returning from oral surgery which cost him most of preseason and the first two regular-season games.
     
    However, in a conversation with Joe Dumars a few days ago, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations apparently told Jennings a little selfishness could be a good thing for a point guard, despite the latter’s promise to get his new teammates more involved offensively than during his shoot-first days with the Milwaukee Bucks.
     
    “That’s one thing me and Joe talked about,” Jennings said.  ”That was my first problem in the beginning, when I came back — trying to please everybody, trying to make sure I was being a pass-first point guard instead of just playing basketball.  But like tonight, I’ve just got to play basketball.  If the shot’s there, I’m going to take it.  If not, then I’m going to pass it.”
     
    So, basically, shoot first.”
     
    I can understand a “shoot first” pg in the “4th quarter”
    But if you’ve got 3 borderline all-star big men you’ve got to rack up assists and get them in their spots for at least 3 quarters. Go off in the 4th quarter after everyone else is into it.

    • Nov 14, 20131:52 pm
      by Some Dude

      Reply

      This wouldn’t be an issue if guys would just make shots. I bet Dumars told Jennings to be a little selfish because nobody else can hit a damn jumper. I honestly don’t mind Jennings (being Jennings) right now.
      He’s one of the only guys that can hit a jumper, other than Datome. Until the other guys prove to Jennings that they can hit a shot and give him an assist. I think he continues to look for his shots. And c’mon, he’s averaging 5.6 assist right. Still more than anybody else last year, pre Calderon trade. 
      I’m not bothered. I think the offense will eventually start to work better. And once lineup/rotation changes are made. Jumpers should start falling, and Jennings will start passing, and assist will increase.

  • Nov 14, 201311:46 am
    by MIKEYDE248

    Reply

    I don’t know if you noticed the word “sometimes” in that statement and then Jennings decribing that he will always look for players first and only take shots when he thinks it’s the best option.

    • Nov 14, 20131:39 pm
      by Otis

      Reply

      See, to me that’s just being a point guard. Read the situation and make good decisions. You don’t need to get green lights and red lights from the GM to know when to shoot and when not to. Shoot first is okay as long as he’s efficient and we’re winning games, and as long as it’s “pass second” as opposed to “shoot first, shoot second.” The kid has court vision and passing skills, so I’m not going to get too worried about his adjustment period just yet.
       
      What I will worry about is this jumbo lineup that’s looked like a TOTAL drag.

  • Nov 14, 201312:32 pm
    by David

    Reply

    Jennings , Monroe & Drummond I think were the reasons were were even in the Portland game, Josh Smith needs to focus more on taking the ball to the basket instead of shooting three pointers. Secondly they’re getting turnovers they just can’t convert those turnover into points. That is the biggest thing I am seeing in this early season. Two very winnable games ahead on this road trip then back home hopefully to get over .500. I’d like to see KCP and Datome get more playing time

    • Nov 14, 20131:55 pm
      by Some Dude

      Reply

      The problem is, they can’t hit a jumper. They get stops on D (sometimes), get a steal, run the fast break only to end with a Stuckey mid-range jumper that clanks off the rim. They all should force something at the basket but people keep taking jumpers they can’t hit.

  • Nov 14, 20136:05 pm
    by Corey

    Reply

    Hitting jumpers would be nice, but the O is ok. The team D is wildly broken.

  • Nov 14, 20136:26 pm
    by Keith

    Reply

    Should we be concerned that Andre Drummond is currently shooting 14% from the FT line? It helps he doesn’t get to the line a lot, but at some point we are going to be in a close game against a half decent coach who just decides to foul Drummond 10 times for absolutely free possessions. This is particularly concerning because Drummond is just the kind of player that SHOULD draw lots of fouls being aggressive near the basket. His best scoring games are all games where he hit a ridiculous percentage of his shots, not where he actually took a good number of shots. Is that symptomatic? Since we can’t rely on him to hit ANY free throws, we eschew him on offense unless obviously wide open? That might be ok for now as he’s still producing, but long term we can’t keep presuming Drummond will be a star if we can’t ever put the ball in his hands consistently.

    • Nov 15, 20138:42 am
      by Some Dude

      Reply

      Doesn’t really matter if he never gets a chance to shoot them. If he just goes 0-2 one night, whatever. But if he was like 2-10 then we got trouble. So far his bad FT shooting hasn’t hurt us. But the thing is, he doesn’t shoot enough FT during games, it’s a small sample size so we really don’t know if he’s improved or not. Supposedly he has improved, but we won’t know until he shoots more. If he just gets to the line twice a night it makes it hard to get a rhythm. 
      Last year there was a point were CV was actually shooting worse than Drummond. That doesn’t mean CV is a worse shooter than him. Just means he wasn’t getting to the line enough to develop a rhythm in game. So for Drummond to improve, he needs to short more FT during games, not just practice.

  • Nov 14, 201310:03 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    Hard to imagine anyone liking what jennings is doing. 
    He is taking 4 more shots a game than monroe and he is shooting a pitiful 39% overall and 29% on his 3 pointers.
    A point guard has to make good decisions and takijng rhe most shots, by a wide margin, while shooting such an atrocious % is the sign of bad decision making.  And poor point guard play.
    It is why the bucks were happy to get rid of him.

    • Nov 15, 20135:07 am
      by Michael

      Reply

      You hit the nail on the head, Jennings can shoot first if he can make a shot.  Otherwise pass it inside where the bigs are nailing 65%.
      Someone tell Andre to stop biting on the pump fakes, it’s his weakness on D.  Get’s him out of position, causes unnecessary fouls leading to foul trouble.
      He is athletic enough to get blocks even when he jumps AFTER the offensive guy leaves his feet.  And not biting on a pump fake is just good BASIC DEFENSE, which the Pistons are not playing.
       

    • Nov 15, 20138:28 am
      by Some Dude

      Reply

      @ frankie d
       
      The % aren’t there for Jennings AT THE MOMENT. But that stuff should rise as the season goes on. Have we forgotten he’s coming off an injury and wasn’t active for about 3 weeks? let him play and get into a groove, please. And he’s been aggressive at getting to the paint for layups, he just hasn’t been able to finish. But I like that he is attacking the rim. People aren’t hitting jumpers right now which clogs up the lane. Hopefully the insertion of Datome and KCP will open things up making it easier for Jennings to finish. He’s been struggling, but that’s not the same as playing poorly. I don’t think he is play bad basketball. Jennings is still adjusting to his teammates and visa versa. He is the only guy on the team with one on one playmaking ability which is MUST use FOR NOW because people are struggling to hit shots. He’s kinda force to call his own number until everybody else plays better.

      • Nov 15, 201312:42 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        What do you base that on?  Jennings is basically hitting is career numbers.  I doubt he is giing to change much.
        And you certainly cannot count on that.

  • Nov 15, 20136:43 am
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    I even mind what Jennings is doing….you take what the defense gives you …also remember Jennings missed the preseason so he is getting use to his teammate and game shape….
    Mark This Down!!!! we are ready to go on a nice winning streak!!!! over the next 10 games …
    I just feel like its ready to click

    • Nov 15, 20138:35 am
      by Some Dude

      Reply

      Exactly. People think Jennings is chucking, HE’S NOT. I’ve been observing, and I will admit he chucks occasionally. But for the most part he is taking what the defense if giving him. He gets to the paint for tear drop floaters, doesn’t always make them but hey, if nobody is in front of you to block it, TAKE THE SHOT. I don’t mind that. It’s not like he’s taking shots with a hand in his face all the time. From what I’ve seen he is shooting often, but he does it when he finds an opening. That’s fine. And most of his shots come in the 4th quarter when he’s trying to force a comeback. I don’t think he’s shoot so much if the Pistons weren’t always losing.

  • Nov 15, 20139:59 am
    by Danny

    Reply

     

    Nov 15, 20138:35 am
    by Some Dude
    Reply

    Exactly. People think Jennings is chucking, HE’S NOT. I’ve been observing, and I will admit he chucks occasionally.
     
    The defense goes under the screens cause he usually doesn’t hit, there is a reason the defense is giving him that shot.  He is a capable shooter, but takes tons of off balance shots and strange runners.  Then when he finally gets streaky and starts hitting, he usually dominates the ball and doesn’t get the rest of the team involved, like a good point guard would.  Yes it is still early, just an observation from the first couple of games.

  • Nov 15, 201310:02 am
    by Jeremy

    Reply

    I’m probably going to get nailed for this but I’m going to say it anyways. I don’t think the issue completely lies with Jennings. Yes, I think he needs to be more selective with his shots, however, I don’t think he would have to put up as many shots if he was actually playing with a starting 2 guard that was being productive. The Billups nostalgia train has ended with me. He is shooting 33% from the field in 22 minutes of run with 5.3 pts, 2.4 assists, and 1.4 turnovers. Did I mention he is starting? I will give it up that he slows the offense down when things get erratic, but a well placed time out would do the same. He needs to be delegated to the role that D.Fischer (another 17 year vet) is playing in OKC. Fischer is just about as productive in half the time: shooting 39.1% from the field in 12.6 mins of run with 3.6pts, 1.3 assists, and .6 turnovers. Start KCP and give him the extra minutes, keep Stuckey coming off the bench, and have Billups fill in as needed when your guards are in foul trouble. 

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