Jennings willing to take backup role upon return

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Auburn Hills — Brandon Jennings spends too much time on the Internet. He heard from Pistons fans that he might not be a good fit coming off the bench for the Pistons.

He will be rusty. His ego is too big. He is accustomed to being a starter.

That makes Jennings bristle. He sees a young team with potential. He sees a starting unit that is bonding and making things work. The last thing he wants is to disrupt things when he returns to the lineup in three weeks.

"I am not going to mess up the chemistry," Jennings said. "The starters have chemistry and they have been playing well. If I can come off the bench and help out, then why not?"

Jennings played 41 games last season as the Pistons lead guard. But a torn Achilles which required surgery caused the Pistons to trade for their guard of the future — Reggie Jackson. He is one of the leaders of the team and was rewarded with a five-year, $80 million contract. So Jackson is in, long term; Jennings is out.

Jennings still wants to compete and fight like he is a starter, but it does not mean he will complain if he comes off the bench for the remainder of the season.

"Always in my head (I am a starter)," Jennings said. "But sometimes you've got to take the back seat and do what is best for the team."

And if he never starts?

"I want sixth man of the year," Jennings said.

Jennings coming off the bench is best for the Pistons. This bench has been inconsistent at best and at least twice cost the Pistons wins.

Forward Stanley Johnson is emerging as its best player. He is coming off a nice 19-point, 10-rebound outing against Houston. If the Pistons can pair Jennings with Johnson, they can become the two J's crew and get the Pistons through rough spots, particularly in the late third and early fourth quarters.

Spencer Dinwiddie, who is back on the bench, was often the reserves' top scorer.

Here are some of the clunkers that have concerned the Pistons:

In their first loss of the season, the Pistons bench produced two points and five rebounds while shooting 1-for-12 against the Indiana Pacers. They were 6-of-20 for 15 points in a two-point loss to the Washington Wizards and 9-of-26 in a loss to Sacramento.

The Pistons need Jennings but do not want to rush him. He works daily to strengthen his left calf and work on conditioning for a Christmas return. Jennings shoots every day and has gone through every workout except five-on-five scrimmages. He believes his offense will come, but Jennings mostly works on his movement to be a more competent defensive player.

"I am tired of shooting by myself," Jennings said. "I am tired of not playing one on one with anybody."

And he is tired of being patient.

"I am feeling pretty well," Jennings said. "I am more confident. I still have to be patient. That is the main thing. I have been learning patience the whole 10 months."

Brandon Jennings played 41 games last season before being sidelined by a torn Achilles.