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An inside look at the Detroit Pistons and the NBA.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Jerebko establishing himself

The loss of Tayshaun Prince for an extended period has opened the door for some of the Pistons young players to get more playing time. The one guy that has separated himself from the pack and cemented himself at the starting small forward spot is Jonas Jerebko.

Jerebko has secured the spot despite not playing much small forward in the preseason. Pistons coach John Kuester said Jerebko's energy and commitment to defense were so impressive that he felt comfortable plugging Jerebko in at small forward.

“Jonas has far exceeded all my expectations,” Kuester said. “I never expected him to be able to play (at) the consistent level that he has. Don’t look at his stats from an offensive standpoint. He brings a lot to the table. His energy and the extra possessions that he gives us have been outstanding."

Kuester said when he was making the decision to replace Prince in the starting lineup, it was Jerebko’s defense that separated him from the other options. Kuester believes Jerebko can defend guys like Vince Carter, Andre Iguodala and other NBA small forwards.

“The 3 men in our league are tall and strong,” Kuester said. “Right now … he can guard the Vince Carters on a consistent basis. Vince Carter is going to get his numbers and there are a lot of great players that are going to get their numbers, but his energy and his ability to do whatever it takes to get to his man is the thing that impressed me the most. He’s consistently done that. That’s what I saw in the preseason, that he can guard a number of people. That’s our biggest concern losing Tayshaun, ‘Can we defend these positions?’ ”

Kuester is also confident in rookie Austin Daye, who will see his share of minutes at small forward. Daye had his best game as a pro in the loss to Orlando, finishing with 11 points (5-for-7 shooting) and five rebounds in 18 minutes.

“Austin is going to be an outstanding player in time,” Kuester said. “His basketball IQ is very impressive. That’s where he is going to come in and at times show people that he can really play. He’s got a lot of confidence on the offensive end.”

Rodney Stuckey will also see time at small forward when the Pistons go to their three-guard lineup and Kuester said don’t be surprised if DaJuan Summers gets an opportunity soon. But Kuester said he hasn’t really explored the possibility of playing Charlie Villanueva at the 3.

Hamilton getting closer
Richard Hamilton remains day-to-day with a right ankle sprain, but Kuester said Hamilton is making progress.

"He’s not started running, but he’s walking a lot more comfortably than I’ve seen him in the past," Kuester said.


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