Brandon Jennings was the starting point guard for Stan Van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons last season for 41 games — until he tore his Achilles.
Reggie Jackson was brought in with a trade and started the last 27 games at the point for the Pistons, showing some chemistry with Andre Drummond. Then this summer the Pistons gave him a five-year, $80 million contract.
That deal implies that Jackson is locked in as the starter for the Pistons, but what happens when Jennings comes back, gets healthy and starts pushing for minutes? While Jackson put up more points per game last season, Jennings shot better from three, and their PERs were almost identical (19.8 and 19.7). It’s not that clear-cut who should be the starting point guard.
The fourth guy in the Pistons’ point guard rotation, Spencer Dinwiddie (remember they have Steve Blake, too) said he doesn’t know what will happen, speaking to MLive.com.
“When you have two starters and you know only one can start, something’s got to give,” Dinwiddie said. “So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m sure Brandon’s coming back to be the best player on the floor. Reggie, I’m sure he feels like he obviously is our franchise guy right now, until ‘Dre signs his max deal. So we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen with Brandon and Reggie but everybody’s waiting to see, I’m sure.”
It’s going to be Jackson, but the fit will be interesting.
One solution is to play them at the same time — Van Gundy has said he thinks Jennings and Jackson can play together. It works in theory because the Pistons could go a little smaller and play faster, Jennings can play more two on offense where he has the shot to space the floor, and Jackson is good enough defensively to guard twos. It’s not something they would use all the time — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jodie Meeks should get a lot of run at the two — but the combo could work at times.
That said, the more likely option is for the Pistons to play Jennings at the point and show him off and hope to do it before the trade deadline — they would love to move him. He is in the last year of his contract; he wouldn’t be expensive for a team to take on as a rental, and then said team can try to re-sign him next summer. However, moving him after an Achilles injury is not going to be easy, and the Pistons will not likely get much in return.
Detroit is a fascinating story next season. Can Van Gundy bring his vision to Detroit and get this team to take a step forward? How does the offense look with Ersan Ilyasova at the four rather than Greg Monroe? Can they make the playoffs in the East?
What happens with Jennings is just another interesting storyline.