NBA Trade Rumors: Pistons Erred by Choosing Brandon Jennings over Rajon Rondo

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2013

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 02: Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics fights for the ball against Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the game on November 2, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons have gone to great lengths this offseason to get themselves back into playoff contention. They took a big step toward accomplishing that by acquiring former Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, according to Royce Young of CBS Sports, but they certainly could have done better.

According to the Pistons' official Twitter account, Detroit picked up Jennings in a sign-and-trade deal with the Bucks, which sent point guard Brandon Knight and two other players to Milwaukee.

The deal also resulted in Jennings getting signed to a three-year contract worth more than $25 million, according to SportsCenter.

Things are suddenly looking up for the downtrodden Pistons, as they also signed Josh Smith and Chauncey Billups this offseason, while selecting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope out of Georgia in the first round of the 2013 NBA draft. Adding those pieces to the likes of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe gives Pistons fans plenty of hope for the first time in at least a few years.

Although Jennings is a supremely talented player, it remains to be seen if he can be a top contributor on a winning team. The Bucks were average at best during his tenure in Milwaukee, and while that wasn't totally his fault, he failed to raise his game to a superstar-esque level.

One point guard who is capable of playing at that level on a regular basis is Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics. It's no secret that Rondo's future in Boston is in doubt, especially with the organization retooling for the future. Not surprisingly, the Pistons had some interest in Rondo prior to settling for Jennings, according to Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News.

Goodwill didn't reveal if there was an offer on the table for Rondo, nor did he speculate upon which players might have been involved in the trade talks, but Rondo would have been an interesting fit in Detroit.

It's clear that the Pistons didn't believe in Knight as their point guard of the future, but their judgment was ultimately questionable.

Jennings is just 23 years of age, so he could potentially get much better over the next few seasons. His career average of 17 points per game is solid from the point guard position as well, but he is not a traditional ball distributor.

Jennings averages less than six assists per contest over the course of his career, although he did set a career-best mark in that category this past season with 6.5 per game.

He also has a penchant for taking bad shots, as he has shot better than 40 percent from the field in a season just once in four years. It's unrealistic to expect a gunner like Jennings to shoot 50 percent, but he needs to get closer to 45 percent, or else he is going to hurt the Pistons in some important situations.

Rondo is far from perfect, as there have been questions about him as a teammate, but he is the consummate teammate when it comes to in-game situations. Perhaps no NBA player is more unselfish than the 27-year-old Kentucky product, as he has averaged 9.8 assists or more per game in each of the past four seasons.

Rondo's 2012-13 campaign was cut short due to a torn ACL, but all indications are that he is progressing well. Provided Rondo is healthy and ready to play by opening night or not long after, he would have been a much better option for the Pistons. Not only would he have been more effective than Jennings at integrating the likes of Smith, Drummond and Monroe into the offense, but he has winning experience as he ran point for the Celtics' title team in 2008.

Jennings is obviously a better pure scorer than Rondo, but Rondo has steadily improved in that regard as he averaged nearly 14 points per game last season. He also happens to be a legitimate triple-double threat on any given night as he pulled in 5.6 rebounds per contest as well last season. Rondo is an all-around threat who can take over a game in a multitude of ways.

It's true that Jennings can take over a game here or there based on his scoring prowess, but he is very inconsistent in that regard.

Rondo always brings something to the table, even if one area of his game is suffering, and that is what makes him such a great player.

There is no telling what type of package the Pistons would have had to come up with in order to secure Rondo from the Celtics, but as long as it wasn't significantly more than what they gave up to land Jennings, the Pistons made a major mistake.

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