I’m not sure how it works in the NBA, but in school or places of employment, your name partly determines where you fit in. No one clique ever really has two guys with the same name. Occasionally, there would be two dudes named Brett or something, but one of them always goes by a nickname or his last name. No one ever said, “Brett H. can ride with me, Brett R. called shotgun in the Jeep.” Seriously. I defy you to prove that sentence had ever been uttered before just now. So I don’t really know how the name thing works within the league. The league can’t hold two Dirks, I know that. It just can’t. Same thing with LeBron. There are four high-quality Kevins in the league, but Love is the only one without at least two nicknames. You have to assume that when the Raptors drafted Jonas Valanciunas from Lithuania, Detroit Swede Jonas Jerebko was capitally peeved. Both Jonas’ (Jonai?) are in the 6-foot-10, 240 range, surprisingly athletic, play for weak northern teams, and have names my grandma will almost certainly mispronounce, fitting similar sounds into the right amount of syllables. I’m thinking she’ll call one Jonesy Valencia and the other Jordan Jibco. Despite missing the entirety of the 2010 season Mr. Jibco showed massive potential after his rookie season and was touted in most leagues as a sleeper to target in the final rounds of you draft. Then you did and then you immediately had to drop him. Along with his motivation to be the league’s best Jonas, here’s why Detroit might have a sleeper not named Brandon Knight on its roster.
It’s hard to tell what the Pistons are going to look like at the start of the season; new coach, half a roster that is both old and likely immovable, and a few young guys around whom the team never intended to build. So that’s pretty sweet, huh Detroit? Like it or not, Daye, Monroe, Jerebko, and Knight are the future of this team.* I have faith that the Pistons can’t be worse than they were last season. There were too many management errors, too much in-fighting, too many stubborn missteps that turned a simple underachiever into one of the league’s laughing stocks. The Pistons will turn to their youth. Between the possibility of injury and the sapping of their older players’ skills, they’ll have to turn to their youth. Jerebko only averaged 28 minutes in 2010 and was only involved in 16 percent of the plays when he was on the court and he still managed 9/6, with a steal and 1 3ptm+blk per game with good percentages. He’ll play most of his time at the four-spot, where he’ll open the floor and cause a lot of bangers problems. The downside will be his underwhelming rebounds and his fouling put him in the jackpot a few too many times as a rookie, but then again, he was a rookie. Now he’s a sophomore with a junior’s amount of experience watching the NBA function. I don’t think he’ll come out shiny and polished like Blake Griffin did after his rookie furlough, but watching the game for a year helps. Playing for a directionless Pistons team that will likely try to roll its old line out there more than it should, won’t help. I also don’t think that tact will last. Detroit’s old line is busted and a few of them might be gone before the season starts. The window for Jerebko to repeat his 26-28 mpg is there and I think mild improvements in scoring and defense after a few months of re-acclimation are a given; something in the range of 1 3ptm/ 11.5 pts/ 6 rbd/ 2 ast/ 1 stl and a return to the final flyer pick in your draft seems about right.
*If the “Knight and Daye” combo doesn’t stick (it totally needs to stick), I’ll spend all next summer working to get Milicic back in Detroit for the Darko Knight combo.