Jonas Jerebko: 2013-14 Detroit Pistons Preview

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Spor

After an up-and-down 2012-2013 NBA season, Jonas Jerebko will need to convince a new coaching staff he's worth minutes in a crowded front-court rotation. If he can, Pistons fans should expect steady production from Sweden's finest.

2012-2013 Year in Review

After spending nearly two full months on the bench, out of Lawrence Frank's rotation, it would be easy to conclude that Jonas Jerebko had his worst NBA season in 12-13.

In some ways, it was.

For his Swedish National team, Jonas carries an awful lot of weight. According to the Detroit Free Press' Vince Ellis, the same kind of weight LeBron James carries for the repeating champion Miami Heat, playing all five positions when necessary and doing everything at each position.

Leading up to the 12-13 NBA season, hopes for Jonas were pretty high around these parts, in part because of what he accomplished on the court for his country. Unfortunately, his stellar play didn't fully translate (at least early on).

After a stretch of dismal performances, Sweden's star found himself riding the pine.

It's hard to quantify what I'm about to say, but those who watched last season closely are likely to agree that Jonas just didn't look like Jonas. The high-energy, move without the basketball, corral every loose ball, and run the floor as hard as possible Jonas that Pistons fans had come to love didn't show up for the early part of last season.

This is speculation, but many were wondering if he was struggling to adjust to his NBA off the bench, non focal point of the offense role after being Sweden's do-it-all superstar. Maybe it was reported conflict with Frank. Maybe it was a combination.

Or, maybe it was just a slump.

Jonas found himself back in the rotation in late January, 2013 and rather quietly put together a very impressive two and a half months of basketball.

Somewhat surprisingly, Jonas Jerebko's complete season numbers compare favorably to his first two seasons from a statistical perspective, which is impressive after his truly poor start to the season.

2013-2014 Projected Production

In spite of a strong finish, it may be an uphill climb for Jonas this season, not because of production, but because of a much improved, much deeper roster. I expect Jonas to be the player he was to close last season, but how many minutes he plays is a very open question.

A new coaching staff may be promising after Jonas' reported fall out with Frank, but new roster additions mean competition for every minute at small forward and power forward, Jonas' two NBA positions.

Josh Smith is likely to start at SF and take the lion's share of the PF minutes behind Greg Monroe. Luigi Datome is expected to provide some desperately needed floor spacing and three-point shooting off bench at SF, and Kyle Singler may be in the hunt for minutes there as well for the same reasons.

However, there are also some good reasons for optimism if, like me, you're pulling for Jonas this season.

There is a strong statistical argument that favors Jerebko over all three of those players. Previously cited box score stats Win Shares and Wins Produced give Jonas a fairly significant edge over both Josh Smith and Kyle Singler, with Datome an NBA unkown. Maurice Cheeks will be under immediate pressure to win now, and playing his most productive players may favor Jonas in the long run.

Furthermore, Jonas' skillset may make him a very natural pairing next to Josh Smith or Greg Monroe when either of those players is at PF. Although not an exceptional three-point shooter, Jonas is fantastic at moving without the ball and running the floor. If Cheeks goes big often with Jonas, Smith, and Andre Drummond, it's easy to envision plenty of transition opportunities for Jonas running the floor. If Cheeks chooses to pair Jonas with either Smith or Monroe at SF and PF respectively, Smith's and Monroe's highly-touted passing skills may give Jonas a chance to shine on offense.

Prediction

Per minute, I expect Jonas to produce as he has in the past, but how many minutes he plays is anyone's guess. But, because I have to:

20 minutes, 8 points, 4 boards, 1.5 steals, 47% FG, 31% 3P%

And of course, leading the NBA in broken hearts per 36.

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