Thursday, October 3, 2013

Previewing '13-'14: Jonas Jerebko

This is the first in a series previewing every player on the Pistons roster before the season kicks into gear.
2012-2013 Stats

44.9% (30.1%)

Jonas Jerebko is entering his fourth year, but fifth after coming to the league. An achilles tendon tear in 2010-2011 robbed the big man of his entire season, and when he returned, the Pistons were an entirely different team with a new coach, a new offensive core (Greg Monroe), and a laughably inept depth chart. In spite of that, his minutes and games played fell off and his athleticism took a marked decline (for example, last year, opposing power forwards charted a 17.2 PER against him). Holding a player option at the end of this season, 2013-2014 stands as Jerebko's most important season to date.

Jerebko never found his niche in Lawrence Frank's system. When Frank arrived in Detroit, Jerebko's minutes started declining precipitously, culminating last year when he played in only 49 games. There are reasons for that: Jerebko is a PF/SF tweener that doesn't excel at either position. Last season, he made a habit of missing wide open three pointers:

For his size (6'10"; a generous measurement to anyone who has watched him play), a rebound rate of only 11.9%, combined with the above inability to stretch the floor and/or score inside, Jerebko stands as a starkly ineffective player, which makes his league average 15.72 PER all the more befuddling. However, a FT rate (FTA/FGA) of 27.8% and an above-average percentage from the stripe help to make Jerebko a potentially impactful player in a system more in tune with his abilities.

But the Pistons are facing a logjam in the frontcourt. With the acquisitions of Josh Smith, Tony Mitchell, and Luigi Datome, Jerebko will struggle to compete with three players who are all more talented in some aspect of the game. On his best day, Jerebko is a poor-man's Josh Smith--a big capable of shooting, running the floor, passing, and making a defensive impact--but since Smith will soak up a significant amount of the front-court minutes, Jonas' role will likely be insignificant.

Projected '13-'14 role: Suit and tie; trade bait
Detroit has too much talent up front for Jerebko to become a consistent contributor. With an expiring contract and the potential to contribute as a replacement-level roleplayer, Jerebko's most significant playing time will be to showcase him for other teams. With a dearth of future draft picks, expect Jerebko to be in another city sometime this year.

Projected '13-'14 stats
47% (33%)

What does this mean for the team?
Jerebko will be a nonfactor this season and likely traded well before the deadline. With a handful of valuable trade pieces, a need for draft picks, and a front court stacked with talent, Jerebko has no real future with the Pistons. Unfortunately, Joe Dumars will struggle to make a deal worthy of the potential of Jerebko. With first-round picks in the upcoming draft the hottest commodity in decades, even a package deal with Jerebko included will afford little more than some future second rounders. But stocking up on assets will be important for this Pistons team, which was recently ranked last in the league with regards to value for future picks.

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