When the Detroit Pistons traded starting small forward Tayshaun Prince and his top backup Austin Daye it seemed like great news for the little-used Jonas Jerebko. After being a key rotation piece in his first two healthy seasons in Detroit, Jerebko has been relegated to the end of the bench almost all season.
He lost his backup power forward minutes to 3-point threat Charlie Villanueva and has been an afterthought ever since. The 6-10 Jerebko, always thought of as a tweener between the forward positions looked poised to be the primary backup of Kyle Singer. He has played in the two games since the trade: over 18 minutes against the Indiana Pacers but only 6 minutes Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now Jerebko appears set to again lose his spot in the rotation.
Coach Lawrence Frank, it seems, faced with a glut of guards, would rather play Rodney Stuckey at small forward and give spot minutes at shooting guard to Kim English than have Jerebko be Singler's primary backup.
Meantime, Singler's backup appears most likely to be Rodney Stuckey, who also is playing as backup shooting guard.
"L (Lawrence Frank) said that to me as well, so I've just got to be ready for anything," Stuckey, who began his career as a point guard, said of potentially extensive playing time at small forward.
The Pistons offered a small taste of the change in Friday's win, late in the third quarter, when Stuckey played briefly at small forward while Brandon Knight and Kim English paired up in the backcourt.
Playing Stuckey at backup small forward sends the clear message that Corey Maggette isn't returning to the rotation. The Pistons also tried Jonas Jerebko at that position in each of the two games since Wednesday's trade, with poor results both times -- Jerebko had a field goal and no rebounds in six minutes Friday -- so that probably isn't the answer either.
As a Jerebko fan this news makes me incredibly depressed. Even though I love English getting another shot at real minutes I'd much rather see JJ out there than Kimmie. The only glimmer of hope is that I honestly don't think this experiment is going to work.
Playing Stuckey at SF completely negates his strength advantage and post-up opportunities and he is not good enough defensively to guard forwards on a nightly basis.