How much value does Brandon Jennings have to the Pistons?

Jan 19, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings (7) dribbles the ball as Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) defends during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 19, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings (7) dribbles the ball as Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) defends during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

How much value to does Brandon Jennings have to the Pistons after the team stocked up on guards this offseason?

The addition of Steve Blake gives Detroit four point guards on the roster. The Pistons were also rumored to be interested in former Nuggets guard Ty Lawson and John Lucas III, who served in a reserve role last season for Detroit.

All of the free agent frenzy indicates that perhaps Stan Van Gundy isn’t confident in the group going into next season.

Reggie Jackson, who just signed an $80 million dollar contract for five years, is entrenched as the starter. He dazzled fans and his coach during his short time in Detroit last season. Van Gundy even said that Jackson’s deal will be a bargain moving forward. Spencer Dinwiddie, who was a rookie last year, will also be in the mix along with the aforementioned Blake.

Meanwhile, Jennings, who ruptured his Achilles in January, is also part of that group which begs to question whether or not he’ll return to pre-injury form or be able to even start the season.

Dr. Eugene Hong addressed the Achilles issue after Kobe Bryant ruptured his Achilles in 2013. Hong said:

"Returning to play after an acute Achilles tendon rupture may take 6-9 months in an active, healthy young athlete. Of course, as with other serious sports related injuries, recovery may take longer, and there is no guarantee that performance will recover to the pre-injury level despite aggressive and conscientious management and rehabilitation."

Using Hong’s timetable, there is a chance Jennings won’t be ready until mid to late October. So when he returns, what kind of Jennings will we see?

Pistons Brandon Jennings
Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Recent players who have suffered a ruptured Achilles include Bryant and former Piston great Chauncey Billups.

Bryant, who ruptured his against the Warriors during the 2012-2013 postseason, returned the following year and played just six games before going down yet again. Bryant was a shell of himself last year and suffered a season-ending rotator cuff tear just thirty-five games into the season.

During those thirty-five games, Bryant shot just thirty-seven percent from the field and had an offensive win shares (OWS) of -0.4.

Billups ruptured his Achilles in the 2011-2012 season and played just another forty-three games in two seasons. He lost his ability to get to the rim and was no longer a knockdown shooter as he was in Detroit and Denver.

Jennings has a long road ahead of him. Bryant is a basketball legend and Billups was a heck of player in his own right. Both of these players struggled to get back to where they were after their injury. It’s safe to say that pre-injury Jennings is not what Bryant and Billups were in their respective primes.

So to the question of what Brandon Jennings we’ll see next season is still yet to be determined. But if there’s one thing Jennings has going for him,it’s he’s only twenty-five years old. Both Bryant and Billups were in their mid to late thirties when they had their injuries.

Perhaps the more important question is what is Jennings’ value to the Pistons on the floor or on the trade block?

Right now, he has no value to other teams. Jennings is a player who has always relied on his speed and athleticism to score and those kind of players coming off serious injuries are not in high demand. Even when healthy, Jennings has been inconsistent.

Last season, Jennings was benched early on in favor of D.J. Augustin but later found his way back into the lineup. After the new year, Jennings went on a tear averaging 20.9 points per game and 9.3 assists per game in his final thirteen games before the injury.

He’s shown flashes of being a top-ten point guard, but hasn’t put things together for long stretches of time.

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If the Pistons wanted, they could trade Jennings now but the return would be very low. Teams are not going to part ways with good assets for an inconsistent point guard coming off an Achilles injury. The Pistons would be better off waiting.

If Jennings recovers and even becomes eighty percent of what he was, he becomes an asset either off the bench or on the trading block. Yes, there are questions about whether or not Jennings will be happy with being a bench player but this is the last year of his deal and he really has no choice. If Jennings wants a big deal next offseason, he’ll have to succeed in any role given.

Bottom line, there is no definitive answer regarding the Jennings we’ll see come October. However, Jennings could have good value later down the road and parting ways with him now is giving up on an investment way too early.

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