The Detroit Pistons have been toeing the line of mediocrity for the start of the 2013-14 NBA season. Through their first 29 games of the year, the Pistons are in the playoff picture in the struggling Eastern Conference, but also sit at only a marginal 13-16 for the year, a mark which they surely have to be looking to improve upon going forward.
While the Pistons haven’t been nearly the defensive team that some people expected them to be with their already talented young frontcourt adding Josh Smith, their offense hasn’t reached its potential either with the arrivals of Smith and point guard Brandon Jennings. In actuality, Smith and Jennings are part of the reason this offense hasn’t reached it’s potential.
The Pistons have just the 16th ranked offense in the league this season, putting up 102.8 points per 100 possessions. A large part of that has been their offensive inefficiency. As a team they rank 21st in the league with a meager true shooting percentage of 48.9 percent. Smith and Jennings both play a huge part in that.
Smith’s inefficient offense and poor shot-selection has been under heavy scrutiny for some time now and rightfully so. Anytime a player with his size and athletic ability is settling for as many threes and long twos as he does, it’s not a positive. While Smith has taken 211 shots this season either in the paint or in the restricted area, he has taken 228 shots from the mid-range and from three. The difference, however, lies in the fact that Smith is shooting 68.5 percent in the restricted area as opposed to the 26.6 percent he’s shooting from the mid-range and 26.1 percent he’s shooting from three.
Jennings’ shot-selection hasn’t been much better, though. For the year, Jennings is shooting a meager 39.4 percent from the field, though a respectable 36 percent from three. The issue, as has been the case for most of Jennings’ young career, is that he’s taking entirely too many jumpers from the wrong areas. Jennings ranks 10th in the NBA in three-point attempts from above the break this season. Though he’s shooting a solid 37.4 percent on those attempts, above the break threes account for just over 29 percent of his overall field goal attempts. That’s not exactly an ideal ratio for your point guard.
The reason Jennings’ and Smith’s shot-selection has an adverse effect on the Pistons’ offense is the fact that these two guys have been the two leading scorers for Detroit and their leaders in shot attempts this season. Both Jennings and Smith average over 15 field goal attempts per game, with the next closest Piston, Rodney Stuckey, averaging 11.9 attempts per game.
Though you want to get these two players involved and it’s going to be hard to change some of their bad habits that have developed over their careers, the Pistons have to find a way to be a more efficient offense. Likely, that means getting Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond more involved, especially if they can’t stop Smith and Jennings from taking poor shots. In the end, though, it’s clear that they need to change something and that something involves Jennings and Smith.