|Jerebko (Getty Images)|
We tend to ignore player-coach relationships when it comes to production. A player plays, and how he plays individually has little if not nothing to do with how he fits with his coach. But we've seen time and time again a player suffer in one situation, then blossom in another. O.J. Mayo was a fantastic rookie, who all of a sudden became an underwhelming backup guard in Memphis when Lionel Hollins took over, and now is an explosive scorer for Dallas. What, is this just random? There's no connection?
Jerebko was a promising player in his first few seasons in the NBA. He played exceptionally well in his rookie season, lost his second to injury, then made serious advances last season. But now? He has found his spot in the rotation lost to Charlie Villanueva of all people, and even his spot at small forward is being taken by ... a guard. From DetroitBadBoys.com:
After being a key rotation piece in his first two healthy seasons in Detroit, Jerebko has been relegated to the end of the bench almost all season.
He lost his backup power forward minutes to 3-point threat Charlie Villanueva and has been an afterthought ever since. The 6-10 Jerebko, always thought of as a tweener between the forward positions looked poised to be the primary backup of Kyle Singer. He has played in the two games since the trade: over 18 minutes against the Indiana Pacers but only 6 minutes Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now Jerebko appears set to again lose his spot in the rotation.
Coach Lawrence Frank, it seems, faced with a glut of guards, would rather play Rodney Stuckey at small forward and give spot minutes at shooting guard to Kim English than have Jerebko be Singler's primary backup.
And from MLive.com:
Playing Stuckey at backup small forward sends the clear message that Corey Maggette isn't returning to the rotation. The Pistons also tried Jonas Jerebko at that position in each of the two games since Wednesday's trade, with poor results both times -- Jerebko had a field goal and no rebounds in six minutes Friday -- so that probably isn't the answer either.
Jerebko has certainly struggled this year, along with, you know, the entire Pistons team. But you have to wonder if some of his regression is linked to the decrease in playing time. Players get desperate and force things when they are worried about minutes. Meanwhile, the bigger question is why the Pistons are so desperate to find time for Stuckey, contract and all. And, if Jerebko is not a part of their long-term plans, why they're not shopping him.
Jerebko is a hard worker and a multi-faceted athlete. In today's NBA, he's not the definition of a tweener but is your standard combo forward you need to combat the athleticism on display. Jerebko's struggles can't be perceived as a permanent or long-standing issue; there's too much evidence otherwise considering he only turns 26 this month.
Frank has done a pretty great job after the Pistons' awful start, but this might be a situation where the fit simply isn't right. Here's to hoping Jerebko finds himself somewhere he can make it onto the floor.