At the start of this season, it was the Pistons' frontcourt of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond that generated the majority of the buzz and rightfully so. It's been the play of point guard Brandon Jennings, however, that has been the glue and held this team together as Detroit continues to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.
When he arrived in Detroit this past summer, Jennings said
he was going to showcase his entire repertoire, that he would be a pass-first point
guard and bring "Lob City" to the Motor City. He's done exactly that while also
looking to push the ball at all times to get easy opportunities in transition.
Furthermore, he's done it without the presence of off-guard Chauncey Billups,
who has been injured most of the season but was brought back to the Pistons to
provide veteran leadership in the backcourt.
Jennings has completely set the tone for the entire team.
He's been the vocal leader, and he's backed up his words with his play on both
ends of the court. Sure, his field-goal percentages will always be up-and-down,
but he's been setting up his teammates first before looking for his own shot.
It's a tactic that has kept his teammates happy and willing to run the floor
with him at all times while still keeping the defense focused on Jennings
and his ability to score the ball as well as distribute it.
In case that's not enough, Jennings has also helped speed
the development of rookie shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who has
started in place of Billups. Jennings and KCP have played well together in the
backcourt, so much so that KCP could remain the starter even when Billups
returns. KCP's shooting continues to improve, and he's maintained an impressive
presence defensively on the perimeter.
The Pistons were projected to be one of the better teams in
the East, and that was before major injuries to teams like the Chicago Bulls,
Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. Detroit has a legitimate chance to
potentially reach the third spot behind the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.
While the play of the frontcourt will continue to garner most of the praise, it
shouldn't go unnoticed that Jennings is living up to his own expectations by
demonstrating the proper leadership, resolve and swagger.
Besides guiding the Pistons to a winning record, Jennings hopes to be an
All-Star this year. While that could be wishful thinking behind the likes of
Kyrie Irving and John Wall, winning gets rewarded when it comes to coaches
picking the All-Star reserves. As long as he continues playing the way he is,
Jennings - along with the Pistons - has a chance to reap the benefits.