What is the No. 1 thing Brandon Jennings can do to step up and help the Pistons make the playoffs?
Carry himself like the veteran he now is
On a team that added Josh Smith and should see continued development from Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, an upgrade from Brandon Knight to Brandon Jennings should be enough to get the Pistons into the playoffs. On the court, Jennings doesn’t really need to change (though it would be nice if he cut out his bad shots and defended harder).
But off the court, I hope Jennings progresses. Jennings was part of a reportedly toxic locker room in Milwaukee, and locker room problems are the last thing the Pistons need.
Teams, naturally, at least somewhat look to the point guard for leadership. He doesn’t have to be Chauncey Billups 2.0 in this regard, but Jennings can’t lower the team’s level of professionalism. I’d hope he raises it, especially on a team with three rookies and two second-year players, but I’d just take a neutral showing of professionalism.
The drastic highs and lows in Jennings’ Milwaukee tenure are well-documented, as are the legitimate questions about whether he can still develop into a consistent, pass-happy point guard. In Detroit, surrounded by bigs who can run, pass and finish, it will be very easy for Jennings to shed his reputation, deserved or not, as a shoot-first (and maybe shoot-second) point guard. All he has to do is let it happen.
Defend and pass
Jennings, contrary to popular belief, has relatively high defending and passing skills. Now, he might not do those things, but he has the ability. If he’s not the No. 1 offensive option like he was in Milwaukee, Jennings can actually showcase those skills more. If he does, this Pistons are going to run really, really smoothly this season.
Learn from his available mentors
There’s another point guard on the Pistons who went through a similar, “You’ll never be a real point guard” stage. Jennings needs to learn from Chauncey Billups. Billups needs can teach Jennings how manage that stigma and change that perception.
Maurice Cheeks was a pretty good point guard himself. There’s knowledge between those two. Jennings should take advantage.
And stop taking contested 20-footers.