Los Angeles Clippers (14-10) vs Detroit Pistons (14-11)
Palace of Auburn Hills
4:30 p.m. PST
December 14, 2015
FOX Prime Ticket
Last time they met?
November 14, 2015 — Sans Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, the Clippers mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter behind 37 points from Jamal Crawford and 34 points from Blake Griffin, who sealed the deal with a jumper with 17 seconds remaining. It was a narrow escape at home but the Clippers came out on top 101-96.
What’s changed since then?
The Clippers have steadied the ship and are 3-1 on a 5-game Eastern Conference road trip. A win tonight will make it 4-1. Meanwhile, the Pistons are back on track after back-to-back wins over Philly and then Indiana.
1. What happens when Brandon Jennings returns for the Pistons?
Ben Gulker, Detroit Bad Boys (@brgulker): Hopefully, Jennings provides a jolt of life to the Pistons’ dismal bench – which is among the worst in the league currently. The Pistons’ bench lacks several things, and Jennings can’t fix them all, but he can provide much-needed ball handling, playmaking, and shot creation to a unit that has very, very little of that right now.
Roscoe Whalan, (@RoscoeWhalan7): 12 months out with injury and the acquisition of Reggie Jackson may lead some to forget that before hurting his Achilles, Jennings was rolling. He’s saying the right things and appears content to come off the bench. It’s a contract year for Jennings so I’m thinking he’ll play his part, give a boost to the Pistons and maybe even help lead them to the Playoffs.
Kaveh Jam (@KavehsRoom): The constant pressure on Reggie Jackson to score is alleviated. Jennings has reportedly looked good in practice with his shot and lateral movement. Even if he gives them 25 minutes, it’s going to solidify some much needed bench depth.
2. Who’s better: Andre Drummond or DeAndre Jordan?
Gulker: Prior to the beginning of the season, I would have said DeAndre Jordan, hands down. I still would have preferred Drummond for a rebuilding team like the Pistons, due to youth and untapped potential, but Jordan was a much more complete player, especially on the defensive side of the ball. After Dre’s first twenty-five games, however, that’s a much harder question. I’d still give the nod to DeAndre’s team defense, but Dre’s defense is improving significantly. There’s no question he still misses rotations here and there, but he’s getting better – and his two steals per game help immensely. Long-term, Dre still has the advantage – he’s still only twenty-two years old after all – and Dre gets more boards and points… but a lot of that is due to role and usage. All that said, if you’re looking to compete for a championship now, I think you take Jordan. But, if you’re thinking about building a contender over the long-term, I think you take Andre.
Whalan: Hey, a guy who’s shooting free throws worse than DJ this year! The advantage probably ends there, though. DJ is what he is, which is great but Drummond is still only 22, has 10 games of 18 or more rebounds already this year and has some offense to boot. DJ brings a lot of things to like to the table but if I’m starting a franchise from scratch, Drummond is my guy.
Jam: Drummond and it’s not close. The physical tools on both ends of the floor separate them by such a wide margin at this point. Drummond is the unequivocal reason why Detroit wields a top-10 defense. You could even argue Drummond was the league’s best center through the first month of the season.
3. Is J.J. Redick criminally underrated, a little overrated or sufficiently rated?
Gulker: I admittedly don’t know what the pundits are saying about the Clippers right now, but I am Redick fan. I was never a fan in college because Duke, but the work he put into his game as a pro to carve out a niche won my respect. As an aside, I’m hoping Nik Stauskas, a former Michigan Wolverine, can accomplish similar things. I’m a stat head, and his scoring efficiency is just too good to be ignored. Couple that with his bargain salary, and you’ve got a pretty compelling player – especially for the Clippers and the role he plays for you. Sure, he’s limited, but next to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, you’d be hard pressed to find something better for just a shade over $7 million per season.
Whalan: Not criminally — but somewhat — like a misdemeanor level of being underrated. He’s never going to have a 25+ point Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson type quarter but while he’s running rings around defenders he’s making life a lot easier for all involved. That said, when he’s running around and making shots, the Clippers are 26-5 over the past three seasons when Redick scores more than 20.
Jam: He’s sufficiently rated as a basketball player. But his value to the Clippers is underrated. There are time’s when he’s not on the floor where the Clippers offense is in full sputter mode. His shooting is indispensable and systematically allows the other pieces of the offense to function.