The Pistons need a multi-dimensional point guard like Brandon Jennings to work with their talented frontline players. (Associated Press)
The Pistons are a little more than halfway through the exhibition season and coming off double-digit road losses to the Bulls and Cavaliers, divisional opponents with dynamic point guards.
The Pistons are without their two most talented guards, and will be for the next couple of weeks, at least, as they prepare for their final three exhibitions.
Thankfully, the regular season will be here soon enough and the Pistons hope Brandon Jennings and Rodney Stuckey won’t be too far behind.
News: Putting up 81 and 84 points on back-to-back nights while shooting 33 percent and 38 percent is a mild cause of concern if it continues.
Views: “If it continues” is the key phrase. For one, it’s the exhibition season, which means Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks is experimenting with lineups and play calls, not with the same regular-season rhythm we should expect in a couple of weeks.
In the Bulls game, the Pistons went to Andre Drummond a lot on the low block, almost force-feeding him as he went 1-of-7. He’s still in the infancy stage of a post game, and it doesn’t get much more difficult than playing against Chicago’s defensive scheme and their front line.
What the two games showed was the Pistons’ need for a multi-dimensional point guard with their talented frontline.
Nobody’s putting Jennings in the category of a healthy Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving, but he can at least balance the floor and put players in the best position possible — in theory. Rose looked like himself again and Irving looked impressive in his limited time Thursday night.
When you consider the teams the Pistons will be going against for playoff spots or positioning, like Cleveland or Washington, those teams know their best player is touching the ball on every single play — because it’s the point guard.
Leaving Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith to their own devices as far as making decisions consistently can work against them.
Sometimes a team can neutralize its own advantage if it doesn’t have the proper pieces surrounding it. While all three are willing and above-average passers, turnovers can come in bunches which means it triggers an opponents’ fast break — which neutralizes the possibility of a very good defense.
Jennings is vital.
News: The Pistons believed concerns about Drummond, Smith and Monroe playing together would be alleviated because they wouldn’t spend long stretches on the floor as a trio.
Views: Drummond looks like the first candidate to be subbed out, sliding Monroe to center and Smith to power forward. It’s been that way the last two games, with around four minutes to go in the first quarter.
Monroe’s adjustment is arguably the greatest because of where he’s getting the ball.
He’s worked on his mid-range jumper over the offseason but hasn’t looked completely comfortable yet and at times drives into a clogged lane.
Shooting 3-of-11 against Cleveland, then 6-of-15 against Chicago is part of the adjustment, especially if teams are giving him open jump shots. He not only has to take them to free up opportunities around the floor, but also make them with some form of regularity.
News: The Pistons shot 9-of-19 from 3 point range against the Bulls, then 8-of-22 against the Cavaliers.
Views: Not bad, by preseason standards.
Chauncey Billups made two of his five attempts, but even he would admit he’s not pushing himself too hard this early.
Not to beat a dead horse here, but so much of this team’s fortunes will rely on its point guard play.
It’s why Cheeks will have a much shorter leash, at least metaphorically, on his point guards than his big men. A bad 3-point attempt from Smith will likely be excused to an extent because of what else he brings, especially defensively. Coming off a season where he took nearly three of those per game, and moving him to small forward, the Pistons knew what they were getting.
If Jennings or Will Bynum or Stuckey are taking bad shots, it can disrupt the rhythm even more than Smith, despite all three being better shooters than their new teammate.
Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looked to be out of rotation at the start of the season, but he’ll get his shot with the injuries. Rookie Gigi Datome is still recovering from an early camp injury while Kyle Singler is a good shooter who’s best when getting set up by other, more talented players.
They’ll need two or three good shooters in their rotation to maximize their length and strength on the interior.