USA TODAY Sports
The Pistons have some new competition at lead guard.
Brandon Jennings has started all but three of the games he's played in his five-year career, and that should continue in the 2014-15 season.
But his place in the starting lineup is more precarious than perhaps it has ever been.
The Pistons brought in D.J. Augustin via free agency to serve as Jennings' backup (and likely to play alongside him at times).
While Augustin has had an up-and-down career, he started all 82 games for the then-Charlotte Bobcats in 2010-11. And he played arguably the best basketball of his career last season after signing with the Chicago Bulls midseason, averaging 13.1 points, 4.4 assists in just over 30 minutes per game off the bench.
Augustin is open to coming off the bench in a role similar to that which he played in Chicago.
“I think we’re all pretty smart players,” Augustin said to Darrell Williams of The New Orleans Advocate. “You can play us together, too. You can switch it around. Whatever my situation is, if I have to come off the bench, I’m going to play hard. We just have to play together.”
The spot is Jennings' to lose, but that's exactly what he'll do if he plays like he did to finish the 2013-14 season. In eight April games he averaged 13.1 points and 5.9 assists while shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and 27.1 percent from the arc.
The 6'1" Jennings is the better overall scorer and distributor of the two, but Augustin is the superior outside shooter—an area where the Pistons really struggled in 2013-14. And though he's shorter, the 6'0" Augustin rated as the better defender by many metrics. According to 82games.com, opposing point guards in 2013-14 had a PER of 17.2 when facing Jennings, and a 15.6 PER against Augustin.
The gulf between the two isn't enormous, and Jennings' superior length in theory gives him the potential to improve on the defensive end. But even Jennings being a marginally lesser defender than Augustin will make the battle for the starting spot at least somewhat interesting, especially if Augustin's success carries over from Chicago.
It seems more likely than not that Jennings spends the year starting at the point for the Pistons. But the addition of Augustin makes their roster much more flexible, and it makes the possibility of a trade involving Jennings significantly safer for the Pistons.