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NBA AM: Pistons Banking On Brandon Jennings
Posted By Lang Greene On September 11, 2013 @ 9:20 am In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
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Pistons Confident Before Training Camp Opens: The Detroit Pistons had a busy summer. Whether or not you agree with the moves the franchise made during the offseason, there’s no mistaking the team is invested in making a return to the playoffs in 2014.
The arrival of forward Josh Smith, who signed a four-year deal worth $54 million in free agency, was the club’s marquee transaction. The team also signed former Finals MVP Chauncey Billups for an added dose of veteran leadership and, in its final act, acquired point guard Brandon Jennings in a sign-and-trade deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Pistons will also be led by a new head coach next season in Maurice Cheeks.
Cheeks, a former All-Star point guard, has spent the majority of his time with Jennings since his arrival preaching the importance of leadership and accountability.
The Pistons, while talented, will likely only go as far as Jennings can take them as the unquestioned floor general, and up until this point Jennings has completely bought into the process.
“His main thing is he’s going to look for me to be the leader,” Jennings said according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com regarding Cheeks. “How I go is how the team’s going to go. Some pressure, but he’s like, ‘I wouldn’t be telling you this stuff if I didn’t believe you could do it.’ That’s good to hear from a guy who played at such a high level. He’s a guy who won a championship. You also have Chauncey Billups here, Rasheed Wallace, Joe Dumars – you’ve got a bunch of guys here who played at a high level and also won. What more can you ask for?”
Jennings is extremely excited about the roster and believes the Pistons’ two young big men, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, are on the verge of their own individual breakthroughs.
“With the talent we have – we have two of the best young big men in the league right now, [Andre] Drummond and Greg Monroe,” Jennings said. “You really don’t see that too much anymore. That was the David Robinson-Tim Duncan era, when they were together. Now that we have two of ’em – and two young guys – I’m real excited to be able to play with those two.
“I haven’t been able to play with a guy who’s a post presence since Andrew Bogut, somebody you could throw it down to. Now that I have a post presence, and another guy like Josh, who can go get a bucket, Drummond, we can do pick and roll – just all type of options now.”
Detroit finished 29-53 last season and missed the playoffs for the fourth straight campaign.
Clippers’ Redick Embracing Pressure: Heading into training camp, the Los Angeles Clippers are primed to receive plenty of attention. The franchise possesses one of the NBA’s best one-two punches in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, an NBA title winning coach in Doc Rivers and a boatload of depth to make a title run.
Sharpshooting guard J.J. Redick was acquired by Los Angeles in a lucrative sign-and-trade over the summer. Despite starting only 54 contests in his seven year career, the Clippers gave Redick a four-year, $27 million deal.
Redick knows the pressure for this unit will be high this season and is embracing being in this type of atmosphere.
“Going back to the week or so we were getting this deal done during free agency, I mentioned to Doc that I wanted to be in this situation because there was going to be pressure, because there was going to be expectations,” Redick said according to Eric Patten of Clippers.com . “I feel like when I look back at my career I’ve always done better and I’ve always been happier when there’s more expectation and more pressure.”
The Clippers will need Redick to adjust quickly to his new role. The team will be missing two players, Eric Bledsoe and Chauncey Billups, from its backcourt who played significant roles last season.
Redick believes he should be able to gain cohesion and contribute immediately in Los Angeles.
“I felt my skill set, both from a physical standpoint and from a mental and approach standpoint, was a perfect fit for this team,” Redick said. “I still feel that way. Obviously, you have to go play games and see how you mesh as a team, but I see this as a great fit for me.”
Rivers agrees about the fit.
“I’m really big on fit,” Rivers said. “I’ll turn down a more talented player for a better fit for this team. And I think we’ve done a great job of that.”
“I feel so fortunate to have great coaching,” Redick said. “Coaches that have taught me great habits and taught me great things about basketball and life, but I’ve always played for coaches who have held me accountable and that’s made me a better player and person. And I expect the same with Doc.”
The Clippers finished with a franchise record 56 wins last season but was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Memphis Grizzlies.
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