The New and Improved (??) Brandon Jennings


Throughout Brandon Jennings‘ career, he has been criticized for a variety of things. He’s been known for chucking up bad shot after bad shot. He’s been known to play no defense. He’s been known for a lot of things.

At many points of his career these statements were all true. He took terrible shots in Milwaukee and parts of his first season in Detroit. He played terrible defense especially in his first season in Detroit.

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Once coach Mo Cheeks was relieved of his duties last year, Jennings even admitted to mailing in the rest of the season. Things were not looking good for the point guard that never went to college.

Then things changed once coach Stan Van Gundy came in as dual Head Coach/President duties.

Known for being one of the best head coaches in the entire league, Van Gundy stressed defensive consistency and better shot selection.

The player that has seen the biggest improvement this year is the much maligned Point Guard Brandon Jennings.

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One of Jennings’ biggest problems was his shooting consistency. Coming into the 2014-2015 season, Jennings has averaged a meager 39% FG% for his entire career.

Sure, his career 35% 3pt FG% is a bit better than average. A 39% FG% however, is nearly inexcusable for a player taking so many shots.

Everything seems to have changed for Jennings this year though. He’s currently averaging his lowest minute total per game at 29.0 MPG. With an actual backup in D.J. Augustin even Jennings has to have expected that.

What’s the most impressive part about Jennings’ season is how he’s shooting and playing defense. Eleven games into the season, he’s averaging a career high 45.2% FG% and 47.0 3pt FG%. That’s marvelous for him.

Nov 14, 2014; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Reggie Jackson (15) drives to the basket against Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings (7) during the fourth quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The best part about Jennings has been his improved defense. In the win against the Thunder on the road, one of the primary reasons the Pistons pulled away in Overtime was his defense on OKC PG Reggie Jackson down the stretch.

Sure, it’s still super early in the season. Sure, you should never assess a player on a super small sample size of 11 games. Sure, he played good defense on Jackson in one game.

But it’s nice to see a change in the mindset of Jennings so soon. Him actually trying on defense will pay dividends down the road for the Pistons.

If Jennings’ defense stays at least average and along with his improved offensive skillset, he will be a bargain at $8 million a year.

After the loss last night to the Orlando Magic, the Pistons’ record now stands at a heartless 3-8. Their future superstar Andre Drummond is struggling. Greg Monroe has been good but has disappeared for some stretches along with his 2-game suspension to start the year. Josh Smith is Josh Smith.

All of a sudden, the Pistons need Jennings to step his game up. That’s exactly what he’s done (so far) 11 games into the young season.