My favorite Swedish basketball player has an achilles injury that could sideline him from 2 to 3 months, or as many as five months, depending on who you read. This is not good, and I don’t want to pretend there is a silver lining.
But there will be fallout and not all of it need be bad. Jerebko’s absence leaves a void that will need to be filled and there are a wide range of contenders: Charlie Villanueva, Jason Maxiell, Chris Wilcox or perhaps Greg Monroe.
Even if Monroe doesn’t start, and instead Charlie V. or Maxiell steps in, he will still be moving up the depth chart. And if the young big man makes quick enough progress adapting to the speed of the game and the prowess of his opponents, he could be inserted into a starting role within a month or two. And if the team really struggles out of the gate then all bets are off.
The decision really depends on what the Pistons are looking for out of their starting power forward. If they prize someone who can play with energy, rebound and move laterally (like JJ could) as opposed to someone that can put the ball in the basket, I think Villanueva remains on the bench. Conversely, if they want to stretch the D and space the floor a little more, perhaps Villanueva is their guy.
There was a report earlier this month that the Pistons were raving about Chris Wilcox, who showed little in his time with Detroit last season. But if the coaches truly are bullish on his improvement then maybe he starts alongside Big Ben. I think, however, it was probably just a case of a head coach with some kind words after practice and a reporter with a news hole to fill.
Maxiell is a best defender of the bunch, but putting him alongside Ben Wallace means an already size-challenged frontline gets even smaller, with neither player topping out about 6-8.
In the long run, I think it’s most beneficial if Monroe grabs this spot sooner rather than later, as his passing ability and descent outside stroke complement Wallace well. But, as exemplified in his first preseason action where he got four fouls within a matter of minutes, I don’t think he’s ready to step in right away.
If I had to vote now, I think I would put Villanueva in the lineup and hpoe that the defensive prowess of Wallace, Tayshaun Prince and Stuckey can compensate for CV’s shortcomings; leaving him free to do what he does best — shoot the ball.
But man, we are really going to miss Jerebko.
Cue the ABBA music