Brandon Jennings shoots too much.
That’s a commonly accepted assessment of his game, to the point Jennings addressed his shot selection at his introductory news conference with the Pistons. There, Jennings pledged to shoot less. Pistons general manager Joe Dumars, sitting beside Jennings, didn’t seem to disagree with that plan.
But behind closed doors, at least according to Jennings, Dumars had a different message for his new point guard.
However, in a conversation with Joe Dumars a few days ago, the Pistons’ president of basketball operations apparently told Jennings a little selfishness could be a good thing for a point guard, despite the latter’s promise to get his new teammates more involved offensively than during his shoot-first days with the Milwaukee Bucks.
“That’s one thing me and Joe talked about,” Jennings said. “That was my first problem in the beginning, when I came back — trying to please everybody, trying to make sure I was being a pass-first point guard instead of just playing basketball. But like tonight, I’ve just got to play basketball. If the shot’s there, I’m going to take it. If not, then I’m going to pass it.”
It’s difficult to make sense of Dumars’ advice, but here’s my best try:
Jennings, even with a shoot-first mentality, is a fine player. He’d probably be best in the long run if he adjusted his game to pass a little more, and these early season games are a great opportunity to experiment. But Dumars is in the final year of his contract and probably needs the Pistons to make the playoffs to keep his job. The Pistons might be better in the short term if Jennings just plays how he’s comfortable rather than working through the kinks as he expands his game.
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Whatever Dumars’ reasoning, it appears Jennings is listening.
Jennings ranks No. 27 among 30 starting point guards in passes per touch, as gathered from NBA.com’s tracking data.
In itself, that doesn’t mean Jennings is playing a less-than-ideal role. But his shooting compares unfavorably to the other five starting point guards who pass on fewer than 70 percent of their touches.
Maybe Dumars should have a different conversation with Jennings.