It was announced Tuesday that Pistons’ newcomer Brandon Jennings will miss three weeks because of an impacted wisdom tooth. If this is the case, Jennings will more than likely miss the start of the Pistons’ season.
This is a blow to the Pistons and Jennings who needed to use the preseason as a means of gaining on court continuity. The team could have used these early preseason games as a chance to form an early identity and grease up the wheels a bit before the regular season tipped off.
Out of all the new Pistons players, Jennings probably needed this time the most. Jennings should use his time off the court wisely and spend Peyton Manning-esque hours in the film room in preparation for his return.
With Jennings destined to miss a bit of time, who steps up in his absence?
There’s a couple of choices.
Expect Mr. Big Shot to start the year out as the team’s starting floor general if Jennings doesn’t make it back in time. Billups was more than likely on his way to being slated as the starting shooting guard for the team, but until the return of Jennings he will assume his natural point guard spot.
The team shouldn’t miss a beat with Billups holding the reigns as he is in familiar territory. It’s possible Billups will spend an abundance of time this year playing point guard for the team if Jennings struggles conforming to his new surroundings or gets into Cheeks’ doghouse for his occasional shenanigans.
Billups has never been an explosive athlete and it’s even more apparent as he’s aged and injuries have accumulated. What Billups brings to the lineup is control. Billups has always played at his own methodical pace that disinhibits a lot of careless turnovers, and that’s a crucial characteristic a team wants from a spell point guard.
Many really liked the Pistons’ move of re-signing Billups as a valuable bench piece and mentor, and by the looks of it, it should pay dividends early.
Bynum, a sixth-year pro, probably didn’t think he had much of a shot to start for the Pistons on opening night after the team acquired both Jennings and Billups this offseason, but injuries happen and opportunities arise. When opportunity arrives, players like Bynum have to snatch it.
Bynum has done a pretty great job so far. With Billups and Jennings both shelved during a preseason game against the Miami Heat last week, Bynum played an absurd 46 minutes and notched 28 points while dishing out six assists.
Absolutely, and I’m sure Cheeks acknowledged that type of effort.
Bynum has been nothing but a workhorse and spark plug for the Pistons since arriving in 2008. He’s been a player who takes advantage of any opportunity he gets. Although he has a slim opportunity to contend for a lot of minutes this season because of a crowded roster, Bynum will have an impact if he’s thrusted into the rotation.
The Detroit Free Press reported Cheeks is adamant about not using five guards in the rotation: “You’ve got to say somebody’s going to play and somebody’s not going to play.”
If that’s the case, Bynum is on the chopping block in terms of the final rotation spot for the Pistons. In all likelihood, the final spot will come down to him or rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Both will see minutes to start the year with Jennings and Rodney Stuckey likely missing time. How each play in that short period of time will probably answer a lot of questions about the end of the Pistons bench and how Cheeks plans on using it.
Opportunity is knocking.
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