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Cheeks says he needs Pistons’ Jennings to step up on defense. Good luck with that.

Dec 12, 2013, 11:36 AM EDT

Detroit Pistons vs Miami Heat Getty Images

It’s not that Brandon Jennings can’t play defense. He can. If you remember Jennings from the first couple seasons he was a solid defender on the perimeter.

But that has changed over the years — he doesn’t seem to care about that end of the floor now, save for gambling for steals. He shows flashes, but by and large just comes off indifferent.

Pistons coach Mo Cheeks wants that to change. After back-to-back games where first Ricky Rubio of Minnesota then Jrue Holiday of New Orleans carved up the Detroit defense with penetration, he called out Jennings. Cheeks sees games ahead against Deron Williams (Brooklyn) and Damian Lillard (Portland) and was concerned, as Fran Blinebury reports at NBA.com.

“I think Jennings has a chance to be very good,” Cheeks said. “I keep talking about steps. “You take steps, you get better at defending your position. That’s how you become one of those elite players. You don’t become elite by having someone else guard your guy.”

That someone else is rookie Kentavious Pope-Caldwell. Cheeks said he is considering switching Pope-Caldwell on to the good point guards coming up on the Pistons schedule, basically hiding Jennings on defense.

“Yeah he’d be up for the challenge,” Cheeks said of the rookie. “But if you’re going to be good, and I’m going to say this again, a good point guard, I don’t like the word ‘hide’. I want the guy who’s guarding the ball, who’s running my team, to guard that guy, if you’re going to be good.”

We’ll see if this little shot across the bow wakes Jennings up. Based on the history of the past few seasons, I’d guess not.

  1. bougin89 - Dec 12, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    Based on his last two years in Milwaukee he’s about as lazy and uninterested as you can be about playing defense. He doesn’t apply any pressure to the opposing PG. Also he’ll never get through a good, physical screen.

    • jaerba - Dec 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM

      He’s been applying a lot of ball pressure so far in Detroit. He’s not just gambling on passing lanes for his steals, he’s getting in there and bothering players (tbh, I’m surprised he doesn’t get more fouls – I guess his hand quickness is pretty exceptional.)

      But he helps way too often and too poorly, and he basically gives up when there’s a screen. Maybe he’s not used to having support on them (there really isn’t much screen support on the Pistons either, though), but it seems way too easy for opposing guards to lose him that way.

  2. boscoesworld - Dec 12, 2013 at 1:05 PM

    Brandon Jennings and Defense is an oxy moron!!! Just wait until he doesn’t make the all star team and does his yearly pout fest. He just doesn’t get it.

  3. telldatruth - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:39 PM

    Cheeks how about calling out Josh Smith too!

  4. timberwolvesbrisin - Dec 12, 2013 at 3:59 PM

    He flat out sucks.

  5. lenbias34pt - Dec 12, 2013 at 5:47 PM

    I’m not sure who is the toughest guy to coach in the NBA, but i know Mello Jennings and Josh Smith are on the short list.

    Mo has his hands full.

  6. nikedunks13 - Dec 12, 2013 at 6:54 PM

    He should tell Josh Smith to quit taking so many 3s. Why is someone who shoots under 30% from behind the arc taking 4.5 a game?

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