Detroit adds Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith and people are worried? Really?

So the Detroit Pistons added Brandon Jennings in a sign and trade that gave up the somewhat disappointing Brandon Knight. They’ve used their cap room this off-season to add Josh Smith at 14 million per year and Jennings at eight. Probably better talent than Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva at a bit more of a cost.

The problem of course comes in with the probably. Ben Gordon, while disappointing in a Pistons uniform, was certainly coming off a much better year than Brandon Jennings. He scored more points on greater efficiency, and while his assist numbers were about two and a half lower per game, he was a SG not a PG. Jennings isn’t exactly a great ball distributor.

With Jennings the Pistons simply hope to capture the good side. At times, he looks like an amazing player with potential to be an elite PG, most often he’s kind of an out of control chucker.

Meanwhile, Josh Smith is the SF equivalent to Jennings. A guy with tantalizing talent that falls into patterns of chucking shots, unintelligent play, and shooting his teams out of games. His primary strength, theoretically, is scoring, yet he holds a career TS% of 51.6%. I know someone will say he’s a rebounder and shot-blocker as well, but he doesn’t do so in a way which really makes a consistent impact for his team defensively.

Now maybe Detroit has a solid core going with Monroe and Drummond. Those are a couple guys everyone is awfully high on, but neither looks like a future superstar, and future star is still a question mark in my mind for either guy. For all the hype about Monroe, his scoring efficiency dropped considerably last season which wasn’t exactly a step forward.

Drummond shows plenty of signs, but it doesn’t make him more than the next JaVale McGee or DeAndre Jordan at this point.

Either way, even if you believe in the young big man duo, surrounding them by three perimeter players who want to jack up as many shots as possible doesn’t necessarily seem like the best development path for anyone.

Maybe Brandon Jennings can reinvent his game from playground superstar to pure passer, but this is a team that probably legitimately needs a Kirk Hinrich running the show a lot more than a Brandon Jennings. Does anyone trust Jennings to get the ball in to the big men consistently, tone down his shooting? Does anyone trust Josh Smith to do the same?

Detroit may have upgraded on talent, but the same was said with the BG/CV signings. It was noted by many that the fit was lousy, but the talent was better so surely it’d work out. Well it didn’t. The same thing applies here. Maybe in this case the talent around the incoming players is better, maybe that talent can improve and take them to the next level.

Maybe Detroit can slip into the playoffs at the bottom of the East before getting destroyed in the first round. It’s not out of the realm of possibility. After the Heat, Bulls, Nets, Pacers, and Knicks it looks fairly wide open as the drop off in talent seems pretty significant. There are probably five or so teams left legitimately aiming for the playoffs and probably five legitimately planning on how to best add the most ping pong balls for next year’s super draft.

The lack of competition for those bottom three seeds means they’ll have a realistic shot at grabbing one if they want, but they’re not an up and coming team. This team maxes out as first round playoff loser. I’ve heard Atlanta Hawks 2.0 used to describe them, they wish the upside was that high.


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  • BG/CV was an unmitigated disaster. Josh Smith has been a much better player than either and is still young. Detroit went from 39 wins to 27 wins after the BG/CV signings. Detroit won 29 last year. With all the new parts and young players, 500 ball and playoffs would be a nice accomplishment. Which looks entirely possible to me. And would put their ceiling at or above the Hawks IMHO.

    p.s. I like the coaching staff: Seems like Cheeks and Wallace with Dumars are the types of people to get through to Smith/Jennings esp. given Smith/Jennings are disappointed in their FA salary outcome.

  • In reply to JayJohnstone:

    apparently Doug will never get over his man crush on Gordon, even though those of us who hated the guy where proved absolutely correct by what he turned into after he left the Bulls, a total bum who just wanted to get paid.

    Doug doubled down on his bet last offseason, when he basically said that the Bulls were jackasses for not trading for Gordon in order to pick up a "guaranteed" lottery pick. We will see if that pick ever materializes as a lottery pick, my bet is that it does not.

    Never mind that the move would have cost the Bulls somwhere between $50-60 million including tax payments, while negating any other moves.

    While I don't love either Jennings or Smith, if you have to think twice or do a statistical analysis of which duo you would rather have, then you are thinking way too much. Especially when you factor in that Detroit isn't exactly paradise on earth, or South Beach for that matter.

    It will be very interesting to see how the second tier of eastern conference shakes out this season, Hawks, Bucks, Cavs, Wiz, Raps, Pistons all in play for 6-8.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I do think the Pistons got better but don't like the moves in the longterm. The Pistons would of been better off developing the Monroe-Drummond frontcourt instead of bringing in a carlos boozer type bad contract(josh smith) into the mix along with a chucker instead of traditional point guard. The Pistons had some success when they had calderon running the point last year. Now they are stuck with two chuckers in smith and jennings shooting them out of games.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    Again not in love with the guy, but he is talented and he will make an effort to play defense, so comparing him to the BozoHole is ludicrous.

    However, comparing him to our 2 time fake allstar, Luol Deng is not.

    Fact: In the last four seasons, Josh Smith averaged 17.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.9 assists and 3.2 stocks (steals + blocks) while shooting 47.5 percent and missing just 12 games total.

    seems to me that Deng loses in every single category.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Although, I have always coveted his teamate, Al Horford as the ideal frontcourt mate for Noah, I wouldn't have to think twice before trading either Bozo or Deng for Josh Smith, and would gladly have done so this summer or anytime since we first laid our eyes on the BozoHole.

    Noah, Butler and Smith would be a heck of a frontline. The athleticism alone would be a blast to watch.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    I would seriously love to see a Horford Noah front court. I think they would beast mode it. Too bad there isn't a way to make that dream a reality....

  • In reply to BigWay:

    While reading this article the same thing occurred to me about Doug's man-crush on Ben Gordon, but I couldn't have written it as well as you did!

  • It will be interesting. At least they have a chance to surprise. Outside of Chicago, Indy and Miami - I don't really count NY b/c I just don't think much of them - Detroit has as much of a shot as anyone. I think that Detroit could easily finish in the 4 or 5 or 6 seed in the East. Spacing is an issue, but Jennings and Josh Smith are young and talented. Both could be traded at some point, although Smith's contract could make that difficult. So, I'd be happy if I'm a Pistons fan.

  • Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings are not really what you would consider reliable, committed competitors. They do a lot of me centered shooting etc. and frequently go off the reservation whem it comes to team basketball..

    If Smith were younger I might be excited if I were a Pistons fan to think Mo Cheeks maybe resurrects his attitude and redirects his career. However, at this point I think Smith is what he is. As for Jennings I just don't see a winning presence as reflected by his plummeting shooting percentages. And Drummond's potential remains over shadowed by his actual performance. Coming out of Connecticut his desire to bring it on a nightly basis was questioned. repeatedly.

    Personally, I think the Pistons should tank to kingdom come with "injuries" and late game bottom rotation guy substitutions, and hope their possibly franchise altering messiah arrives making Detroit fans forget about middling players like Jennings and Smith.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    It would be very shortsighted to think this team as duly constructed has any playoff success in its future. If Dumars IS on the hot seat, and this was the best he could do. Not gonna be good enough.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Agree that they should tank, but now it's to late. I'm no fan of Drummond, but Monroe is a good piece. They have other nice players on the roster including their rookie SG, but a high lottery pick next year could have been the big piece to bringing the franchise back. Now they are in the 6-10 range in the east. They should have been patient for one more year. It seems Dumars was getting desperate to save his job. I think I heard Sam Mitchel say on NBA tv that potential has a shelf-life. This team is full of players nearing their expiration date.

  • No one going to mention Chauncey? I'd be entirely inclined to agree with Doug's assessment, but Billups gives me a little doubt. He might be the right kind of mentor / glue guy to make these pieces work. — *might* being the operative phrase.

  • In reply to kukoc4cocopuffs:

    If it were two or three years ago, I'd give that a chance. I think Billups is past the point of significant help.

  • yawn...

  • How about this deal for the Bulls?

    Deng to 76ers for Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner.

    The Bulls can let Turner go at the end of the Season, and Young's deal would likely be less than anything that they would need to pay Deng if he comes back. If the Bulls are able to strike gold with a 2014 free agent it's likely that they could easily move Young.

  • In reply to nucahx:

    I don't see the Sixers wanting that deal. They would give up two role players for a guy who will leave at the end of the year. All it would do for them is take them from a high lottery pick to a low lottery pick. If the Bulls don't want to keep Deng, I think he ends up with the Lakers next year.

  • In reply to PaBullfan:

    I agree, why would the Sixers go for that deal, unless they were in love with Deng and he was willing to sign an extension, which I doubt that they are or he is.

    Personally, I would be thrilled to move on from the "Deng era". Turner and Young would certainly add to our athleticism and make us deeper. They would however, eat into(completely kill) the 2014 cap space, such as it is. Are either one of them worth it, I don't know, probably not, but then again we don't have any idea who we can realistically get next summer, if anybody.

    Probably rather have Josh Smith and/or Brandon Jennings.

  • In reply to nucahx:

    I'd pass not a fan of Turner and Thaddeus Young would be little more than duplicating the Taj role...

  • In reply to nucahx:

    Don't Rose and Turner hate each other?

  • Pistons are nothing but fringe playoff contenders with little upside. They are no threat to make any real noise. Only team I am concerned by after this offseason are the Nets after stacking their starting lineup. Team looks super dangerous on paper. Could implode like most super teams ala the Lakers but I doubt it with the alpha team leader types they added in Garnett and Pierce. After seeing the lack of leadership and fire while getting beaten by a far lesser talented team in the Bulls I think Garnett and Pierce are just about perfect fit for them. They don't need to play the superstar roles just be super role players and vocal leaders.

    That second tier in the east is getting crowded. Bulls, Pacers and Nets battling to take down the Heat. Should be a fun season.

  • I think the smith signing was ok. Drummond isn't ready to take on 35 min/game yet. Smith can play along nicely with both of Detroit's young bigs. I think Drummond has a pretty high upside, he's still so young and growing into his body. With smith, det can trade Monroe for a shooter/spacer. Jennings is a chucker and not too useful, but is probably an upgrade over knight. I'm feeling meh about those moves, but then again I'm feeling meh about the team (if I'm a pistons fan)

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