It couldn’t have happened at a worst time.
For the past month, the Detroit Pistons have been playing their best basketball of the past half decade.
And then this happened.
On what appeared to be nothing more than a casual play, Brandon Jennings was pushed by former Piston Brandon Knight while Knight was attempting to retrieve the inbound pass. Jennings fell to the ground, clutching his left leg.
And just like that Jennings, the Pistons’ leader, was finished for the season with an ruptured Achilles tendon.
The loss is devastating for the Detroit Pistons for several reasons. During their recent win streak, the Pistons began closing in on a playoff spot. That talk will need to be put on hold until the Pistons somehow recover from this injury.
D.J. Augustin is a good NBA player, as seen in his 35-point outburst Jan. 25 in a loss to the Toronto Raptors. But Augustin can’t replace Jennings’ leadership or command of the locker room. Jennings had taken tremendous steps on and off the court in the past month and had finally given the Pistons the leadership that had been lacking the past several years.
In large part, Jennings was the reason the Pistons went on the tear they were on. But now, the Pistons will have to scramble to adjust to stay on the right track for a postseason berth.
That won’t be easy, especially considering just how big a hole the team is attempting to dig itself out of after its early season woes.
The good news is Detroit’s latest challenge should help the team develop even more camaraderie. The Pistons had gained tremendous confidence while winning 15 of their past 18 games before dropping back-to-back games against Milwaukee and Toronto.
How they get that back without their leader is anyone’s guess. But it is yet another in a long line of tests for coach Stan Van Gundy.
Just when it appeared the Pistons found a winning formula, they will have to start over again.
How they respond to the latest challenge will decide if their season can be saved or has been derailed.
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jhayes1136.