Brandon Jennings probably doesn't get as much attention as he deserves -- both good and bad. Joe Dumars made sure of that by deflecting most of last year's point guard scrutiny to the current front-court dilemma.
But let's talk about Jennings a little bit. We should agree that Jennings is an immediate upgrade over Brandon Knight and he should be commended for striving (or at least tweeting) to be more of a pass-first guard, even if it's hard for him to change who he is. His assists are up and his shots are down ever so slightly, but let's not kid ourselves -- the shots are still too high and they're hardly going down, if you know what I mean.
While Josh Smith is busy being one of the worst three-point shooters of all time, Jennings is doing some notable brick work of his own.
Over his last 11 games, Jennings is shooting 29 percent from the field on over 13 attempts per game (27 percent from three on almost 6 attempts). Yes, that's a small sample size, but it's the worst stretch of his career, no matter how you cherry pick it. (If you can find a worse stretch, correct me in the comments, but I played with B-Ref for a whole 17 minutes!)
On Monday, the box score reflected zero points for Jennings, just the second time in the volume scorer's career he's been shut out. He scored zero points in a game last year over a similar struggle of an 11-game stretch in which he had games of 1 for 15, 0 for 3, 1 for 11, 3 for 13 and 4 for 15 (16-percent combined) and he still finished with better overall shooting averages than his most recent stretch, because he usually has pretty good games in between to "even" things out a bit.
That's unfortunately not the case this year.
Jennings has chucked the second most shots on this year's Pistons, 120 more than the third most, Greg Monroe, and is only hoisting 0.3 fewer attempts per game than Smith. And in Smith fashion... Jennings is the worst shooting point guard in the NBA among qualified leaders. I can't imagine another starting point guard in the NBA having as futile a stretch as Jennings' latest. And I really don't understand how an NBA guard can be this bad at shooting.
To try to be fair, though, Jennings has called this a learning year, a year in which he's trying to lead an offense for once rather than "shooting at will." Ignoring the fact that his shot numbers are similar to his years past, the mental aspect may be playing an adverse role:
"I think I'm just thinking too much, trying to find guys instead of looking for my shot," Jennings said. "So when I do, I'm out of rhythm because I'm not looking for it."
Anytime you're thinking about thinking, I'm thinking you're probably thinking too much. Jennings has never been a particularly good shooter, even when he's looking for his own shot, and a shoot-first guard is not what I believe is expected of Jennings. Alas, if a poor shooting shoot-first guard is how he needs to think to not be as bad as he has been, then I guess we have the guard we thought we had all along.
As for getting Jennings right mentally, he was in a similar situation earlier this season when he lost all confidence in his shot. Coincidentally, it was a game against Milwaukee in which he regained it. A return to his old team's city on Wednesday, where he actually struggled last month, will hopefully help him get back on track.
Mentally at least. Later this week, we'll be having a special guest writer join us to break down the physical reasons why Jennings sucks so much at shooting and how Jennings might be able to fix it.
Now, your thoughts.