Jennings is key to Dumars’, Detroit’s future
by Shawn Windsor, USA TODAY Sports
He’s too small. He can’t play defense. He’s selfish.
He doesn’t finish at the rim, or make enough threes, or use his off hand well in the paint.
He takes too many long two-pointers and hoists them too early in the shot clock. Of course he does, he’s a gunner who thumbed his nose at the NBA’s age requirement and bolted from high school for Europe, where he struggled in the only year he played there.
Brandon Jennings, the Detroit Pistons’ newest point guard, arrives riding a narrative I’m sure he’d like to change, and one that isn’t entirely fair.
If Joe Dumars is going to make his latest experiment work, he had better hope Jennings’ story isn’t finished.
The Pistons’ president of basketball operations carries a playoff-or-bust edict these days and used that pressure to reshape his roster. He passed on a local hero in the draft for a two-way shooting guard. He brought in free agent Josh Smith to round out the promising front line.
Now he’s gambling that a 23-year-old, 169-pound, shoot-first point guard can properly stir the ingredients in the beaker, that he can shed old habits and refine his inner playmaker.
If Dumars is right, he has the makings of an athletic, talented and entertaining core that should fill some of those empty Palace seats and make a solid run at the postseason. If he’s wrong, his long run in the front office is likely over.
This isn’t the first time Dumars has taken a chance on a former lottery pick trying to learn how to play point guard. If Jennings remakes himself even half as well as Chauncey Billups did, then the sign-and-trade could be the jumpstart the franchise needs.
To get Jennings, the Pistons gave up a promising backcourt player. Brandon Knight is still only 21.
During his two years here, he showed nice form on his jumper, fearlessness, athleticism and length. What he didn’t show was an ability to run a pick-and-roll consistently or a point guard’s intuition.
So what? Neither have plenty of other 20-year-olds trying to learn how to run an NBA team. It’s easy to overlook the learning curve when … [For more on Brandon Jennings is key to Joe Dumars', Detroit's future, click here.]