Brandon Jennings, Joe Dumars

Brandon Jennings says Pistons ‘should own the glass’ next season


The Pistons have a lot of new pieces to fit together once training camp opens at the end of the month, but that’s going to be part of the fun.

Detroit added Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith to an already talented group of young players, and put a new head coach in place in Maurice Cheeks who will be tasked with trying to make it all work from the very start.

Jennings didn’t receive the extension he wanted from the Bucks largely due to his inconsistent play that saw him looking to shoot more than pass from the point guard position, but that may have been a function of who he had with him on the roster. As he looks forward to next season, Jennings is excited by the possibilities.

From Keith Langlois of

“Andre Drummond, his potential is very high. He’s so young, too,” Jennings said Tuesday after his first workout in the team’s Auburn Hills practice facility. “Greg Monroe, he’s a guy we can get the ball to under the basket and make plays, get buckets. They’re two big, physical guys, too. And with Josh (Smith), bringing him in here, I think we should own the glass this year, defense and offense.”

Early in Jennings’ Milwaukee career, when Andrew Bogut was healthy, he got to see the effect of a low-post presence on the rest of a team’s attack. When Jennings said at his introductory press conference in early August, “I definitely have to change my game for this team, for my teammates, everybody to be successful,” that’s what he had in mind.

“With the talent we have – we have two of the best young big men in the league right now, Drummond and Greg Monroe. You really don’t see that too much anymore,” he said after Tuesday’s workout. “That was the David Robinson-Tim Duncan era, when they were together. Now that we have two of ’em – and two young guys – I’m real excited to be able to play with those two.”

As for the part about rebounding, the Pistons were 13th in the league in both rebound rate and rebound differential per game last season. The addition of Smith should help a little but it’s worth noting that considering his size and athleticism, his average of 8.4 rebounds per game last season should be considered an underachievement at his position.

But nitpicking aside, the fact that Jennings is going into his new situation in Detroit with the mindset of changing his game to suit his new teammates is a positive sign.

51Q: Does Ty Lawson vault the Rockets into the top tier of championship contenders?

DENVER, CO - MARCH 07:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets controls the ball against Ty Lawson #3 of the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on March 7, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockets defeated the Nuggets 114-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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I see five clear upper-echelon championship contenders –  Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Thunder and Cavaliers.

Do the Rockets belong in that group, or do they fill the next tier by themselves?

Ty Lawson – acquired for pennies on the dollar – could put Houston over the top.

But, really, this premise might not be fair to the Rockets. They earned the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference last season and reached the conference finals last season. James Harden finished second in MVP voting. Dwight Howard looked like a star during the playoffs. The supporting cast – Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Patrick Beverley, Corey Brewer and even Jason Terry – played better than anyone expected. Young players like Clint Capela, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell could make a leap at any moment.

There’s a case to be made we should have taken Houston more seriously even before trading for Lawson.

I didn’t, though, and I don’t think many others did either.

I suspect one of the biggest reasons is the Rockets’ balance. Houston – 12th in points scored per possession, sixth in points allowed per possession – was one of only two teams to win more than 51 games last season without ranking top five in either category. Of the seven teams with so many victories, the Hawks – sixth, seventh – were the only other. Atlanta was a darling team, winning 60 games after going 38-44 the season prior. The Rockets’ modest win increase, from 54 to 56, drew less attention.

But balance shouldn’t be punished. Houston’s surprisingly strong defense should be celebrated. Lawson might push its middling offense over the top.

There are reasons to question that, though.

The biggest is Lawson’s sobriety. If he’s not focused and engaged, this all goes out the window. His comments about going to rehab only because it was court-ordered raise doubts, though they hardly foretell anything.

Let’s say Lawson’s off-court problems are behind him. How big of an upgrade is he? The Rockets already had a pretty good point guard who fit well with Harden in Beverley. Lawson is a clear offensive upgrade, but in the biggest moments, the ball will still run through Harden. At that point, would you rather have Beverley or Lawson on the floor? Beverley is a far superior defender, and his off-ball offensive game isn’t far from Lawson’s. Beverley is is a fine spot-up shooter, and Lawson’s strengths involve having the ball and creating. Lawson’s biggest boost could come when Harden sits, but that was fewer than 12 minutes per game last season.

Sure, a secondary ball-handler could ease pressure on Harden throughout a long regular season. Lawson and Harden can take turns running the attack.

But we’re talking about title contention, and in those high-leverage situations, it’s Harden’s show. How much does Lawson matter then?

The Rockets have a chance to win a championship. As good a chance as the NBA’s five best teams? I’m not so sure.

UNLV following Kentucky’s lead with combine for NBA scouts

Goodluck Okonoboh, Patrick McCaw
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Kentucky held a two-day combine last season for NBA scouts.

Now, LSU and UNLV are following suit.

Rob Dauster of NBC Sports:

The Runnin’ Rebels will hold their event on October 23rd and 24th at the Mendenhall Center, UNLV’s practice facility, sources told The expectation is that all 30 NBA teams will be in attendance.

LSU has potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and another first-round prospect in Tim Quarterman.

UNLV features lottery prospect Stephen Zimmerman.

This won’t replace scouts attending games and watching practices, but the fact that all 30 teams plan to attend shows how seriously the pro league takes these. No college team wanted John Calipari to have that competitive advantage in recruiting, so the smart ones are leveling the field with their own combines. Soon, more college teams will follow.

As the calendar gets packed, NBA teams might have to pick and choose which they attend. At that point, we might get little clues about which prospects they’re scouting hardest.