It’s been tough sledding for the Pistons for basically a decade now. They have not won any NBA playoff contests since 2008, their last three trips since all resulting in sweeps. They have gone from head coach to head coach, with seemingly nobody able to make wins appear out of thin air.
Blake Griffin was healthy for them last year and performing at an All-NBA caliber, dominating across the stat sheet. He was never healthy this year though, and whenever he was on the floor, he looked like a shell of his former All-Star self. It was not fun to see for Blake, the team, or the fans.
But, he says now that he has fully recovered from the arthroscopic knee surgery he had in January. This is really great news for Griffin, who is still just 31 and has a lot of basketball left in the tank. If Detroit wants to make any sort of noise next year, they’re going to need him.
And it’s important to remember: This team, though underwhelming, made the playoffs with him playing 75 games a year ago. Add in some young talent and maybe a vet or two around him, and they could end up in a similar position again in 2020-21.
Start Getting Used to It, Kid
Grizzlies beat-writer Peter Edmiston made a surprising, but valid, claim recently about the use of Jaren Jackson Jr. in the Grizzlies lineup. He believes that most of his minutes are going to be coming at center for the years to come.
Jonas Valanciunas has been the team’s starting five this season, with Jackson playing the four next to him. In lieu of using a second center off the bench, they have been sticking JJJ at that spot, where he has actually been playing 54% of his minutes.
When you have an athletic big man that stands nearly 7’0″, there are plenty of creative ways to use him. His low-post game leaves a bit to be desired, but his outside shooting has continued to improve. He matches up better with centers than power forwards, yet it’s hard to just stick JV on the bench.
At this point, Jonas might be the most underrated center in the league, putting up the best numbers of his career while playing for a team that brought him in at the deadline last year. He spent a lot of time in Toronto — his name always coming up in rumors.
In Memphis, that hasn’t been the case. He has produced and been a solid starting mate with Jaren. Of course, if the prediction is that he will be taking Valanciunas’ starting minutes down the road, they could have an issue on their hands.
JV is too good to be coming off the bench, so they may have to find a natural stretch-five to come in and play behind him. And if Edmiston is incorrect, and JV continues to get the starts with JJJ at the four, that’s fine too.
Given how well the team has played this year despite injuries and roster uncertainty, they should just keep rolling with it.
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