Pistons are being held back by their inability to convert their free throws
30th. Detroit is dead last in free-throw percentage, something you've no doubt heard multiple times over the course of a game as a Piston walks to the line. As a team, Motown is only converting 65.5% of its freebies, which, apart from being the worst completion rate in the League, is also the worst in franchise history. Although the Pistons are currently sitting at 17-14 on the season, they could easily have won a few more games had they been able to shoot their free-throws.
Of course, it doesn't help that the team's best career free-throw shooter, Jodie Meeks, is out with a Jones fracture, or that several of the players on the roster are currently shooting well below their career numbers. Spencer Dinwiddie (57.9%) Anthony Tolliver (58.8%), Aron Baynes (67.7%) and to a lesser extent Steve Blake (71.4%) and Ersan Ilyasova (73.5%) are shooting below their averages. This has been offset slightly due to some of their teammates picking up the slack, with Marcus Morris (73.7%), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (81.3%) and Reggie Jackson (86.0%) all shooting career bests.
The main culprit however is Andre Drummond, who leads the team in FT attempts with 234, but has only converted 89 of them (38%) - a far stretch from the 60% mark Stan Van Gundy believed the center could hit this year. In comparison, Reggie Jackson, who has attempted the second most amount of shots from the charity stripe, trails Andre with 150 attempts. There has been rising debate over opposing teams' use of Hack-A-Dre over the course of the game, with some even employing the tactic as early as the first quarter. Despite the improvement from last season, it seems that the enemy's scouting reports on how to stop us seem fairly simple: send us to the line.
With a dedicated shooting coach like David Hopla on staff, why are they struggling to convert what should be mere formalities for players of their caliber? Either way, one thing is for sure, they'll need to drastically improve their performance from the stripe if they want to make a serious playoff run.
Healthy Jennings ready to contribute, waiting for SVG's go-ahead
After a decent performance in Grand Rapids with the Pistons' D-League affiliate, Brandon Jennings was added to the team's active roster and was dressed for the past few games, but hasn't seen any court time. Stan Van Gundy earlier explained that he'd wait and see how Brandon fares in training, but that so far, the guard hasn't been able to outplay a red-hot Steve Blake. However, as The Detroit News' Rod Beard relays, Jennings is itching for any type of NBA action:
"I'm fine, I'm ready," said Jennings, who has not played for the Pistons since suffering an Achilles tear last January. "However, this is not my decision. This is my coach's decision, so I wait and see."
Jennings said he does not want to fill a defined role with the Pistons. He just wants to bring energy and fight.
"I'm looking to bring energy when I get a chance to play and see what happens," Jennings said. "I want to find guys when they're open, play defense, just play hard."
Pistons fans seem to share the same feelings as Swag, as we all look forward for his season debut -- could he see action in Detroit's next game in New York against the Knicks? The Detroit Free Press' Vince Ellis certainly thinks so, pointing to SVG's comments about the point guard's need for additional team practices and conditioning ruling him out of all games up until Saturday's game against the Celtics. However, should Jennings suit up on Tuesday, he will still be behind Steve Blake on the depth chart, but both his teammates and his coach have said they're looking forward to the day he returns to the court, as they're hoping he'll help power the offense off the bench.
"We are waiting for him to get fully healthy," Jackson said. "He has been looking good. Of course it will take time to get all the way there. He has been pushing himself on the court. He has done everything asked of him. We all want him to do well. We are waiting for him to show the world that he is back and we are 100 percent behind him."
Despite lack of playing time, Joel Anthony content with mentoring role
After playing in 49 games last season in which he provided strong defense and some much-needed veteran leadership off the court, Anthony has so far appeared in 7 games this year, totaling 32 minutes of court time, with 13 of those minutes coming during the Pistons' 4OT win over the Bulls last week. The eight-year NBA veteran has seen his minutes slowly reduced since his departure from the Miami Heat three seasons ago, but the 33-year-old Canadian has embraced his new role as a mentor, as he tells MLive's Aaron McMann during an interview:
I feel grounded now saying that I'm the vet and older one. It's weird how fast that happens, that I'm the older one among the much younger guys. It's been good for me. I've gotten a chance to work with some of the young guys and try to help them out, try to help them get better.
Anthony, who re-upped to the tune of 2 years, $5 million during the summer, has always had a good impact on the team both on and off the court, and, despite being one of the team's elder statesman, he is still the first in the gym, and one of the last to leave it according to his coach. During his interview with McMann, Joel discusses a range of topics, from his introduction to basketball, to his offseason decision to change to a vegetarian diet; the whole interview is a good read, and it provides some insight into the life of the Pistons' third-string center.
Tweet of the Week
Hey man say what you want. But Shrugs all star numbers pic.twitter.com/eXLHixynS7— Brandon Jennings (@thinkiminthe90s) December 21, 2015