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Jennings eager to play with new Pistons teammates

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The Canadian Press
8/6/2013 5:48:47 PM
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Brandon Jennings can hardly wait to take the court alongside Detroit's athletic big men.

"I guess you can say we can bring the 'Lob City' to Detroit this year," Jennings said.

That's quite a boast, considering the Pistons have missed the playoffs for four straight seasons, but if there was one thing Jennings tried to make clear Tuesday, it was that he will absolutely look to pass the ball a bit more than he did in Milwaukee. Detroit acquired Jennings from the Bucks last week, hoping the new point guard can be an important part of an extensive off-season overhaul.

The Pistons also signed forward Josh Smith and guard Chauncey Billups. They traded guard Brandon Knight in the deal for Jennings.

It was a flurry of moves that, at the very least, has people around Detroit talking about the Pistons again. How it will look on the court is anyone's guess -- and Jennings' job will be to help this group become a cohesive unit.

"This year I think you're going to see a whole different player, just with all the talent that I have around me, the veterans that are in the locker room," Jennings said. "Now I can just actually be myself and be who I was five years ago, when I was in high school, playing AAU basketball."

The 23-year-old Jennings seems well aware of some of the knocks against him. He shot 40 per cent from the field last season, easily the worst mark in the NBA for any player who took over 1,200 shots. Of course, he also averaged a career-high 6.5 assists per game.

"I definitely have to change my game for this team, for my teammates, everybody to be successful," Jennings said. "The things that I was doing in Milwaukee, I won't have to do here -- take all those bad shots."

The Bucks made the playoffs last season with a 38-44 record. Detroit was nine games worse, and the Pistons made a coaching change this off-season, bringing in Maurice Cheeks to replace Lawrence Frank.

Talented big man Greg Monroe is still only 23, and 6-foot-11 Andre Drummond turns 20 on Saturday. That's what Jennings is talking about when he says the Pistons have a bright future and teammates he'll enjoy playing with.

Detroit added Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 17.5 points for Atlanta last season. The question now is how well he'll mesh with the other frontcourt players -- and what Jennings and Billups can add to the backcourt. Drummond was at Tuesday's news conference, when Jennings was introduced.

"It's like I got drafted all over again," Drummond said. "I'm walking into a new situation, a new coaching staff, a new bunch of players."

It's certainly an exciting time for a franchise that has not had many of them lately. Detroit's rebuilding process has been slow. First, Tom Gores became the team's new owner in 2011 following a drawn-out sale. Over the next couple years, the Pistons parted ways with Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince, giving themselves flexibility.

It felt for a while like this would be the off-season when Detroit's patience might finally turn into action -- when the Pistons would put some of their salary cap space to use and be aggressive in the trade market. That's exactly what's happened, and although it's hard to say where this lineup ranks in the Eastern Conference, nobody can accuse Detroit of standing pat.

Team President Joe Dumars doesn't anticipate any more major changes, so all that's left now is the waiting.

"I do feel like the roster that we have right now is a roster that can compete for the playoffs," Dumars said. "I don't foresee us doing any more big moves."

Brandon Jennings Joe Dumars (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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