I’m slightly worried about Jonas Jerebko’s view of himself

The Pistons have a president in Joe Dumars who’s committed to defense.

They have a coach in John Kuester who’s committed to defense.

And they have veterans like Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince who are committed to defense.

The top-down organizational devotion to defense is big part of the reason I think Dumars signed Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. I can’t believe Dumars thought those two had been good defenders. But I could see him thinking the Pistons’ system could overcome that.

Well, maybe the opposite has happened.

I’m more concerned with how he plays than what he says about how he plays, but Jonas Jerebko didn’t exactly thrill me at Pistons media day yesterday. Jerebko said he worked on “everything” this summer, but the two areas he named were ball-handling and his mid-range game.

With the the Pistons’ roster, how often will Jerebko need to handle the ball? How often will he need to shoot a mid-range jumper?

Jerebko played so much last season because he was a perfect role player. He hustled, defended and offensive rebounded. Trying to become a go-to player would not help the Pistons in the short-term (probably not in the long term, either). They already have enough players with that mindset.

Jerebko bulking up a little so he can better defend power forwards would help. Improving his 3-pointer so he can stretch the floor would help. Even trying to play center would have a chance to help, given how thin the Pistons’ frontcourt is.

But apparently that experiment is long over.

“I don’t see myself as a center,” Jerebko said.

Given how he played as a rookie last year, I’m pretty sure Jerebko works hard. I’m just not sure he worked smartly this offseason.

There is a big caveat to all this, though. Jerebko played for Sweden in European Championships this summer. Unless I’m underrating Joakim Kjellbom, Jerebko had to carry that team – and he did. He averaged 25 points and 12.3 rebounds in four games.

“It got me a lot more confident, to show myself that I can do it,” Jerebko said.

If an American played professionally overseas and refused to cater his game for an American national team at the expense of his professional team, American fans would revolt. I don’t have a problem with Jerebko working on his game in ways that would help Sweden more than the Pistons, especially because playing for his home country was more immediate.

I just hope he can still be a good role player for the Pistons, especially at power forward. This team needs more players who can accept a role. I hope they didn’t lose one such player over the summer.

Someone asked Jerebko whether he could average 25 and 10 here.

“I’m definitely not going to do that,” Jerebko said, “but I’m going to try.”

I just hope he doesn’t try too hard.

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