Brandon Jennings’ critics say he’s been inefficient.
But now that Jennings is with the Pistons, he has a real opportunity to limit his inefficiencies. Maybe then, observers will notice what he does well.
Jennings is actually a good passer with decent court vision.
In Milwaukee, he shot the ball a lot and probably didn’t pass enough. But even through all of his missed shots, he averaged 6.5 assists per game last year, which ranked 16th in the NBA. That’s not exactly an elite mark, but it’s decent for someone known to never pass.
Dan previously argued Jennings wasn’t actually surrounded by bad shooters earlier in his Bucks tenure, and that’s true. But Jennings was still expected to be the No. 1 scoring option, and that led him to take too many terrible shots.
That past mistake won’t necessarily affect Jennings with the Pistons, though.
In Detroit, with all of the offensive weapons around Jennings, nobody expects him to automatically assume the role of No. 1 option. Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are also capable of leading the team in scoring. And Chauncey Billups can still create his own shot in times of need when he’s on the court.
Get to the rim
Jennings is good at repeatedly driving to the rim – he ranked 29th in layup attempts last season – but he he’s not very good at finishing once he gets there. He shot just 49.5 percent on layups last year, 8.1 percentage points below the league average.
Too often, he collapsed in a heap around the basket near defenders or struggled with his dysfunctional right hand as he shot left-handed layups from the right side.
But as an excellent pick-and-roll ball handler, Jennings can use his slashing ability to set up teammates rather than just attempting to score – especially with the Pistons. Drummond and Monroe especially, but also Smith, are great at setting picks and rolling to the basket.
Defend well enough
Jennings regressed defensively the last couple years, a fact Bucks fans are quick to point out.
But the Pistons give Jennings a chance to look more competent defensive maybe if for no other reason than he seems to be more personally investing in this team than his previous one. But there are other reasons, too.
Jennings is a better defender than Monta Ellis, and that meant more defensive responsibility for Jennings in Milwaukee. In Detroit, Jennings won’t carry that burden.
Maurice Cheeks has raved about the defense of Rodney Stuckey, who very well could be Jennings’ primary backcourt partner. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has also shown good defense during summer league and preseason, and he could develop into getting big minutes at shooting guard.
Plus, a shot-blocking frontline that includes Drummond and Smith might be even more imposing the Bucks’ Larry Sanders-anchored defense. That should take pressure off Jennings, too.
Get a fresh start
So, where can Jennings, a once seemingly budding star who lost his way, play to his potential?
Maybe on a team where he can shoot a reasonable amount and pass to quality scorers rather than be the No. 1 offensive option.
Maybe on a team where he can drive and drop off passes rather than finish every time.
Maybe on a team where he can defend within his means rather than attempt to compensate a bad defensive shooting guard.
Maybe on the Detroit Pistons.