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Pistons News: Darrun Hilliard's minutes; Greg Monroe weighs in on Drummond; Brandon Jennings to claim backup PG position

Brandon Jennings and Darrun Hilliard could be the spark the bench needs

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Could bench woes push Darrun Hilliard into the rotation?

With almost a quarter of the season behind us, several things have become apparent: Andre Drummond is dominating in the paint, Stanley Johnson is the real deal, Marcus Morris has the tools to become an effective two-way player and the Pistons' bench is an inconsistent abyss. Detroit's reserves have struggled out of the gate so far, with Aron Baynes the only backup who can claim to have made a positive impact on the court efficiency-wise. Veterans Steve Blake and Anthony Tolliver have at times been able to provide some offense alongside rookie Stanley Johnson, but their production is inconsistent and has often not been up to par. Reggie Bullock, who impressed the team in pre-season, has sputtered in limited minutes, while end-of-bench players Joel Anthony and Darrun Hilliard have only received garbage time in a series of losses.

With injuries to projected sixth man Jodie Meeks paving the way for added playing time for Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock, second-round draft pick Darrun Hilliard has so far been unable to log any meaningful minutes with the Pistons. Despite checking in at the scorer's table twice in the past week, Stan Van Gundy has been thinking of sending the seldom-used rookie to the Grand Rapids Drive to keep him active.

The Detroit News' Rod Beard, like many fans, believes that a slight tinkering to Stan Van Gundy's rotation could yield some added production off the bench. However, while Beard looks to the rest of the NBA for potential help, there could be one potential solution sitting on the bench - Hilliard.

The 22-year-old rookie guard has so far logged 15 NBA minutes that have not answered any questions regarding the Villanova product's basketball ability. While it is unlikely the Pennsylvania native will solve all the Pistons' bench woes, odds are he wouldn't negatively impact the second unit either. Bullock, who is ahead of him on the depth chart, is averaging an unflattering 0.4 points and 0.6 rebounds on a shooting slash of .059/.111/1.000 through 10 games, a benchmark that should be well within reach for a four-year collegiate player like Darrun.

Monroe: "Drummond has always been an outstanding rebounder"

Prior to claiming the first of four regular season matchup against the Pistons, Greg Monroe opened up on his upcoming duel with former frontcourt mate Andre Drummond, as the Detroit Free Press' Vince Ellis relays:

"He's always been an outstanding rebounder," Monroe said Monday morning before he faced his former team for the first time in the regular season. "He was getting 20 rebounds when I was there. Ersan (Ilyasova) is kind of a different rebounder than me, so it's not surprising."

"When you have someone you're playing with that averages 10 rebounds, too, you're going to get a few less rebounds," Monroe said. "There's a lot more rebounds available, so he's gonna get more. It's not surprising to me at all. He's always had that motor. He's always had that hunger to rebound."

Drummond went from averaging 13.5 rebounds per game last season to 17.1 through the course of 16 games this year and has been leading the NBA in that category. Monroe's replacement, Ersan Ilyasova has been averaging 3.6 rebounds per game for Detroit, down from the 6 rebounds he has averaged during his career, and a far cry from the 10.2 rebounds Greg averaged beside Drummond last year.

In Milwaukee, Monroe has been putting up his usual 15 and 10, leading the young Bucks to a steady start as well as helping fuel the beginning of a Central Division rivalry between both the Michigan and Wisconsin-based teams.

Healthy Brandon Jennings likely to assume backup point guard role

With Jennings on track for a Christmas return, news has emerged that corroborates earlier statements as to the point guard's role post injury. Per Hoops Rumors' Dana Gauruder:

Jennings, who is still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in January, has been participating in practices but is still targeted to return sometime next month. "He doesn't have his quickness back," Van Gundy said. "He's a ways away but he's getting there. He can do pretty much everything. It's just getting back into being able to play at that tempo. There's definitely been progress but he's still a ways away." When he returns, Jennings will likely move ahead of Steve Blake and Spencer Dinwiddie on the second unit.

This isn't news in itself, as Van Gundy himself talked about a potential Jackson-Jennings tandem during the offseason, but the addition of Steve Blake and Spencer Dinwiddie's potential shrouded the mercurial guard's future in Detroit. Good thing the sky seems clear these days. Combined, Blinwiddie's averaging  4.7 points, 3.3 assists across 1.5 turnovers, shooting 32.5% from the field and 20.9% from deep, not exactly the desired stat line from your backup floor general.

Of course, we can't expect Jennings to return to the form he was in prior to his injury where he was putting up 21 points and 7 assists during the Post Smith Era, but his passing flair and emotional play style should remain intact and could prove to be the difference the second unit has been in need of.

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