Internal improvement: Jonas Jerebko

Tom Gores said it better happen. Jonas Jerebko guaranteed it. Rodney Stuckey agreed.

The Detroit Pistons can certainly make the playoffs this season, but given how similar the team is to last year’s, it won’t be easy. It appears the Pistons are mostly relying on internal improvement in order to exceed expectations and reach the postseason.

For our 2012 preview series, Patrick and I will each examine one area where we see realistic room for improvement from each Piston. Today, we look at Jonas Jerebko.

3-point shooting

Jonas Jerebko is not a bad perimeter shooter, but he’s not a good one, and it’s frustrating how close he is to being good.

First of all, a higher percentage of Jerebko’s outside shots should be 3-pointers. He far too often shot with his foot on or just inside the arc – minimally, if it all, increasing his odds of making the attempt at the expense of trying a shot worth 50 percent more points. Even if Jerebko’s effective field-goal percentage was slightly higher on long 2s than on 3s last year, that gets to my second point:

Jerebko should attempt more corner 3s, an area from which he shot 38 percent (according to nba.com/stats). From other 3-point areas, he shot 28 percent. If he’s taking more of his 3s from the corner, there’s no way his effective field-goal percentage on long 2s is higher than his effective field-goal percentage on 3s.

With a 30 percent mark on his 3-pointers last year, Jerebko was solidly below the league average of 35 percent. If he spends more of this season camped in the corner and patiently waits for spot-up opportunities where he knows his feet are beyond the arc, his 3-point percentage should improve – as will the Pistons spacing. Plus, his strong off-ball cuts will be even more effective from the corner and still lead to plenty of offensive rebounds.

-Dan Feldman

Not having the ball

It’s not that Jerebko doesn’t already move without the ball. He clearly does. He’s one of the more active players on the Pistons. But his plans this offseason as well as his offseason plans after his rookie year involved working on his game with the ball in his hands. Those are probably good things for Jerebko the individual player in the long-run. But for the Pistons as constructed? They probably don’t help much.

With as many ball-dominating players as the Pistons have, Jerebko is probably never going to be a guy the Pistons toss the ball to and run a play for. Instead, there are a couple of things he can improve that will help both him and the Pistons. He’s athletic enough to become a better finisher inside, and with a passing big man like Greg Monroe becoming more and more a focal point of Detroit’s offense, it’s easy to imagine Monroe getting numerous easy attempts for Jerebko. He could also work on his spot-up 3-point shot. Slashing guards Rodney Stuckey and Brandon Knight love to attack the basket. Both guys also tend to have moments when they are a little over-aggressive, get into traffic and find themselves in need of an outlet in a lane that has collapsed on them. If Jerebko can work on raising that 3-point percentage from the 31 percent he’s at for his career now to 35ish range, it will make him a more dangerous offensive player and it will create more space for Stuckey and Knight, since Jerebko’s defender will have to be more mindful of his shooting ability.

-Patrick Hayes

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