On Tuesday, Brandon Jennings, out for the season with injury, had some time to link up via phone with the HangTime podcast on NBA.com, hosted by Sekou Smith, Lang Whitaker and Rick Fox. During his 20 minute cameo, Jennings discusses a range of pressing issues, including social media, the presence of Reggie Jackson, Detroit's playoff hopes and much more.
Jennings, whether fairly or otherwise, over the course of his NBA career, has been much maligned for several reasons, namely shot-selection and immaturity. What people seem to forget is that he came into the league at the age of 19 after spending a year abroad, and is still only 25. Perhaps unfairly, people hold him to an unreasonable standard after he became the youngest player in NBA history to score 50 points in a game, in only his 7th NBA game, against Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, at the tender age of 20 years and 52 games.
However, this podcast, coupled with his play this season, has indicated an upwards trend in his leadership capabilities. It was evident in the immediate aftermath of "The Waiving" and the entering into the Tolliverse, when, even though he may not have been having a great game, he would still exude bench swag of Bazemorian proportions, whereas last year he would have sullenly stewed at the end of the bench.
I'd like to draw attention to two topics of conversation in the podcast, which can be enjoyed in its entirety here (H/T's to both dblack13 and Supa Dupe). Firstly, Jennings made mention on the state of his rehabilitation, and how he's three weeks ahead of schedule, but indicated that an injury of this magnitude was nearly inevitable. He revealed that the doctor told him that his Achilles was so worn down that he was bound to tear it sooner or later. Jennings gave the explanation of the accumulation of wear and tear from his high school years and all the various amateur tournaments such as AAU that he played, perhaps indicating a system change is needed, but I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on how American high school basketball works.
The topic more pressing to us as fans, however, was the situation with Reggie Jackson. Whilst he didn't mention Jackson directly, he did say how he didn't care who got the shots and who was dominating the ball as long as the team was winning, perhaps indicating a willingness to try and make it work with Jackson next season. Now whether Jennings really holds these views or if he was just posturing for the masses, it is at least slightly reassuring to hear from a fan's perspective.
Lastly, I know I only said I'd draw attention to two topics, but, very interestingly, and perhaps slightly amusingly, Jennings did say he felt the Pistons "deserved" to be in the playoffs this season. I know many people here who are of the opposite opinion (I'm of the view that you finish where you deserve, so if we make the playoffs, we deserve to be there), and that a 5-23 start and a subsequent 10 game losing streak to begin the Jackson Five cannot be ignored, but it probably shows the team's collective mindset that they are not giving up.