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Pistons Sign Brandon Jennings; Why He’ll Bankrupt The Team As Explained By Stats

Pistons Get Brandon Jennings
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Pistons Get Brandon Jennings

Mar 9, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings (3) attempts to regain his balance after making a basket against the Golden State Warriors in the third quarter at ORACLE arena. The Bucks defeated the Warriors 103-93. Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

What’s worse than Brandon Jennings’ shot selection? Having to go through almost a month of free agency with no blips in your team offers radar after you’ve projected yourself as a $12 million-per-year point guard. Even worse: the realization that you might have to return to a team you’ve grown to abhor, in a place known for its sub-zero temps, on a one-year qualifying offer. Then, out of nowhere, the Detroit Pistons make Jennings’ Summer of Sad into a fairytale full of playoff projections, recouped redemption, and young guns revitalizing the hope of a city desperately in need of some. Everybody wins, right?

You have to remember that no one ever wins in Detroit―except some of its sports teams. And with the signing of Brandon Jennings the Pistons won’t be one of them.

Detroit Pistons’ President of Basketball Operations had a good, if albeit rocky, thing going for him. Andre Drummond, if he can avoid being a free-throw shooter with a percentage like a batting average, will be one of the league’s brightest stars in a handful of years. Greg Monroe still has some upside and plays well off of AD. With a trigger un-happy Josh Smith, they were on their way to cementing one of the league’s best frontcourts. Perhaps with a veteran point like Jose Calderon or Chauncey Billups feeding them the ball, they could blossom like a rose amidst the lingering exhaust fumes.

Instead, the Pistons swapped another Brandon (Knight) for Jennings, along with Khris Middleton and Slava Kravstov. The Bucks got to unload Jennings’ infantile fits and big contract dreams onto the Pistons, while the Detroit squad was able and willing to give him a three-year, $24 million contract. (That doesn’t come out to $12 million-per-year, in case you were wondering). The move for Milwaukee isn’t applaudable but it’s certainly not as bad as what the Pistons took on.

For starters:

1) As a high-volume shooter, PER―a player’s efficiency rating that takes into account various stats and which is standardized across the league at 15.0―should be a strong suit for him. Yet, Jennings was just a sliver over league average with a 16.20 PER in 2012-13. In his four-year career he’s never posted better than an 18.4 PER, and that was when he was a rookie.

Last year, he didn’t even finish in the top-100 in PER.

2) Counter to most players, his turnover rate has gone back up since dropping down after his rookie campaign. In 2011-12, he logged his best TOPG average of his career only to follow it with last season’s personal worst 2.5 TOPG. When factored to a per-minute ratio, 2012-13 was actually only his second-worst year, but that’s a big no-no for a point guard who shoots so badly. His assist-to-turnover ratio rescues him some―he ranked 18th in the league last year―but even on that page he’s worse than fossil-incarnate Andre Miller (2.8 AST/TO), Kyle Lowry (2.8 AST/TO), and Jameer Nelson (2.8 AST/TO).

3) The man has no right hand.

A look at his shot chart, courtesy of NBA.com, might make you think otherwise as he shoots more and better when on the right side of the paint periphery but a look at his in-game troubles would spell a different story. In fact, his almost laughable reluctance to go right is probably illustrated within the 42.57% convergence rate in the restricted area arc. He’s just bad.

 

Brandon Jennings Shot Chart

 

4) He’s a skilled passer, who for years hasn’t had reliable go-to shooters, but he’s not a pass-first player. Detroit needs a point with that philosophy, or else, the development of Drummond and Monroe might continue to suffer. With Josh Smith, another sometimes-ball-stopper and subpar shot selector, in the ranks, Jennings’ deficiencies will be even more apparent as they were when playing next to Monta Ellis.

His assist percentage, a simple estimate of the percentage of teammate field goals he has accounted for, was also worse than it was his introductory year.

5) Looking at his offensive prowess he’s also below the grade. A look at his points per possession (plus assists), shown as PP(P+A) and as seen on BBall Breakdown, puts him under the likes of players with one foot in the D-League. Those being Will Bynum, who posted a 1.234 PP(P+A), at a minimum of 800 possessions, and who he’ll have to play alongside of, and, Isaiah Thomas, with 1.294, and who has never seen the top of a store shelf he’s so small.

Detroit can’t catch a break.

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