Brandon Jennings says he's 'thinking too much' instead of looking for shot

Al Bello

The Detroit Pistons' guard says he is thinking too much about helping his teammates rather than being aggressive with his own shot, but the numbers would indicate otherwise.

Brandon Jennings is still adjusting in his first season playing with the Detroit Pistons' unique frontcourt, and has struggled with his shooting this season mightily. The point guard is shooting a career-worst 36.9 percent and averaging 16 points per game. Over the course of eight games in the month of January, he's shot just 25.5 percent from the floor and 26.1 from the three-point stripe.

After a loss to the Clippers where Jennings went scoreless by missing seven field goal attempts, he told the Detroit News' Vincent Goodwill he's thinking too much about his shot:

"I think I'm just thinking too much, trying to find guys instead of looking for my shot," Jennings said. "So when I do, I'm out of rhythm because I'm not looking for it.

"It's been a little difficult, but it's definitely going to take some time," Jennings added. "I'm still gonna keep doing what I'm doing. This is a learning year for me, trying to be able to run a team. In Milwaukee I was just playing basketball and shooting at will. This year, I'm taking a step back."

Jennings links the issue with his learning to play with more playmaking on his mind, and the assist numbers back up that part of the story. Jennings is averaging a career-high 8.6 assists per game, which account for the NBA's seventh-best number of points created by assist per game, according to NBA.com's stats tool.

The only problem with Jennings' assertion about his shooting rhythm is that he's hardly been shy in terms of attempts.

Last season with the Milwaukee Bucks, Jennings took 15.6 shots per game, but the attempts haven't dropped off with Detroit. The point guard is taking 14.9 shots per game, and though it's fallen off to 12.8 per outing in January, that's far from not having the opportunities to find a rhythm.

Coach Maurice Cheeks isn't ready to say it's about anything other than not shooting well:

"He just didn't shoot the ball well. It's not about thinking," Cheeks said. "Part of the game is thinking. It's a happy medium where you run offense or take shots. It's not something new. You have shots, you take them. You make them or miss them."

What is it then? The Pistons' offense isn't exactly an easy thing to figure out with a big front line that includes Josh Smith, and two interior players in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. It may be fair to say Detroit's offense isn't giving Jennings easy looks. He only takes an average of two catch-and-shoot attempts per game, according to SportVU tracking data, which doesn't rank in the top-200 of the NBA.

Jennings is one of the better drivers in the NBA, earning seven attempts per game, but he shoots just 36 percent on drives. That's neither helped by his small stature nor opposing defenses packing the paint because of the inability for the Pistons to stretch the floor with more than one or two shooters on the court at a time.

And finally, because Jennings ranks sixth in the NBA by taking eight pull-ups per game, you'd expect he's good at them. But it's not so. The point guard is shooting just 35.7 percent on pull-ups. Jennings' most common open looks are not strong suits.

Looking at both shot charts and shot distribution charts from last year with the Bucks to this year with the Pistons, the only thing apparent is that Jennings doesn't have a sweet spot, nor an area on the court where he has more opportunities compared to another.

It could be on Jennings or his coach, but until his strengths are determined and some order is established in his individual offensive game, the accuracy struggles that have dogged the point guard for most of his career will continue.

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