Athlete of the Week in the D: Pistons Guard Brandon Jennings

By: Kate Chidester | January 16, 2015
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Here in Detroit, we love our sports teams. Between the Lions, Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons, there’s a constant, infectious sports buzz around the Motor City that’s impossible to resist.

Who helps create this excitement? Detroit’s athletes — the ones we cheer for from the comfort of our home, the social atmosphere of our favorite pub, or from the games themselves, wearing our favorite jerseys and cheering until our voices are hoarse.

Every week, we can watch any number of Detroit’s players — from Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera to Lions standout wide receiver Calvin Johnson — rise to the occasion and lift their teams to victory or have spectacular personal performances.

This week, we turn our attention to Pistons guard Brandon Jennings, who’s helped his team win nine of its last 11 games.

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Jennings, 25, has been impressive for the Pistons over the past week, averaging 21.8 points on 40.4-percent shooting, along with eight assists, in four games. On Monday, he turned in a 34-point, 10-assist effort against the Atlantic-leading Toronto Raptors to help the Pistons improve to 14-25.

Although the Pistons still remain well below .500, they began turning their season around in late December. They lost 13 in a row at one point and were 5-23 before Stan Van Gundy made the decision to release forward Josh Smith.

Jennings, and the entire Pistons’ offense, has flourished since that roster change. Detroit’s offense runs more smoothly through 6-foot-1 guard Jennings, who’s averaging 20.2 points and 6.6 assists since Smith’s departure, and 22.3 points on 46-percent shooting through nine games this month.

Overall, Jennings leads the Pistons and ranks No. 13 in the league with 233 assists. He’s scored 538 points — trailing only Greg Monroe on the Pistons’ roster — on 40.3-percent shooting.

After getting off to a rough start, the Pistons are now just two games out of a playoff spot in the East. A lot of things can still happen between now and April, but one thing is certain:  Without Jennings’ recent surge, the Pistons wouldn’t even have a chance to be in the playoff picture.

Now that’s something Detroit fans can be excited about.