A 12-year NBA veteran, Beno Udrih knew the situation awaiting him in Detroit precisely: play a steadying backup point guard role behind fill-in starter Ish Smith until the injured Reggie Jackson returned 20 or so games into the season. Nothing more, nothing less. It was a clear job from the beginning and one that Beno completed with no problem. SVG on Udrih's play and situation:
Stan Van Gundy has said he has no intention of playing three point guards, leaving Udrih and his 7.0-point, 3.4-assist average sidelined.
"He's played really, really well," Van Gundy said. "It's just -- and it's one he can tell you, he knew coming in exactly what the situation was. It wasn't anything that was hidden from him or anything. And so, it's never easy.
Despite being waived earlier this October by the Miami Heat in favor of undrafted 2013 graduate and D-League grinder Rodney McGruder, Beno was not far removed from playing decent ball — he played in 10 playoff games with the Memphis Grizzlies in 2015, averaging 17.5 minutes per game and nearly 8 points (had a 20-point, 7-assist and 7-rebound effort in game 1 in first round).
Even though Udrih will likely experience many games glued to the bench now that Jackson is back, there is a possibility for him to see spot backup point guard duty in back-to-back situations for some time as Jackson works carefully back into things. From Rod Beard of the Detroit News:
Van Gundy said the medical staff will continue to monitor Jackson’s minutes, potentially even restricting him from playing back-to-back games or extended minutes. The Pistons play their first back-to-back since Jackson’s return, Wednesday night in Charlotte, which could be in jeopardy.
In that case, Ish Smith easily could shift back as the starter and Beno Udrih slide back into the backup role.
Van Gundy’s clarification on the back-to-back issue:
“We haven’t decided that yet,” Stan Van Gundy said before Tuesday’s win. That’ll be determined after tonight, probably tomorrow morning after we see how he feels after tonight. There hasn’t been a blanket statement that he won’t play back to backs, but I also haven’t gotten assurances that he will, either."
Right now, Udrih is a comfortable insurance policy at best — and he and everyone knows that. It is what it is — yet it’s far from a bad thing. And in case you forgot, a good many Pistons fans, Sean Corp being one, have made the argument for Beno being the starting point guard for this team. That argument was made about two weeks ago after Ish Smith was, shall we say, coming off some less than effective performances. With Darrun Hilliard's sound play against the Chicago Bulls Tuesday night, the second-year guard is continuing to make the case that he should get the backup shooting guard minutes. However, if Hilliard falls way off and Stanley Johnson's name isn't called to take back his minutes, Udrih could very well be in line for some shooting guard time, or, to put it another way, he could be the fourth weapon in a backcourt rotation of Jackson, Caldwell-Pope and Smith.
Although Udrih is not a blazin' wild 3-three-point shooter, he's shown throughout his career that he can splash them at a respectable mid-thirties percentage clip. As such, with Jackson playing the one, Beno could conceivably see some minutes at shooting guard when KCP rests. Other possibilities could see Udrih at his natural one spot with Jackson or KCP at the two. This might be also valuable since Jackson might be able to conserve energy by playing the two on occasion, no matter who the point guard is. That any of these situations would ever materialize is slim, but it's worth considering. SVG has options galore.
It’s unfortunate for Udrih, but let's just hope Hilliard keeps his strong play up and that Johnson finds himself. That’s clearly best for the team.
In any case, Beno Udrih has more than did his job here in Detroit and proved he still has the good type of gas left in his 34-year-old NBA tank. It wouldn't be surprising at all if Udrih is asked back next season to be the Pistons’ third point guard, would it?
What do you think, DBB?