Look for Jonas Jerebko to edge Charlie Villanueva for starting PF spot

I’m pretty confident, barring injury, the Pistons’ opening-night starting lineup will be:

But if there’s one position up for grabs, it’s power forward. Jerebko was a better player last year and likely a better complement the other four projected starters. Charlie Villanueva has greater potential and may have put in better (if not more) work this summer.

So much attention has been paid to the logjam on the  wing, deservedly so. It’s the deepest, most talented and most accomplished part of the team. Everyone recognizes that if not handled properly, the minute breakdown could have disastrous effects on and off the court.

But for John Kuester, managing the power forward situation, might also take a delicate touch.

Jerebko earned a huge role last season because he worked hard and played smartly. But he also received minutes because of the Pistons’ injuries. If he doesn’t see as many minutes with everyone healthy, how would he take that?

“Of course, it’s fun to start,” Jerebko said. “But I mean, I’m just trying to get on the court and help the team. And of course I want to keep starting, and I’m going to work for it, too.”

Villanueva also wants to start. As I’ve written before, I think Villanueva fancies himself a better player than he is. More than anything, starting raises a player’s profile and gives him a higher status in the league.

“It’s very important,” Villanueva said. “It’s important to me to just be on the court. I think I can bring so much to this team, and last year it was hard for me with the injuries, and that limited me to do some of those things. I’m feeling healthy. I feel 100 percent. So, I’m excited to be on the court.”

Really, I think both players would be fine coming off the bench, as long as they still get consistent minutes. But I’m not sure of that. Either could sulk.

I’m glad both want to start. I’d have a problem if they didn’t.

The wing players battling for minutes will be a storyline all season, unless Detroit makes a trade. But right now, I think the power forward situation is the most intriguing.

I also think Kuester offered a clue at Pistons media day yesterday about who will start.

“Piston basketball is playing defense, grinding things out, making sure you execute on offense, setting great screens,” Kuester said. “… It isn’t always the most talented team, as opposed to the team that plays best together.”

Who does that sound like to you?

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Tags: Charlie Villanueva John Kuester Jonas Jerebko

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