Bucks’ Brandon Jennings Looks Like the Real Deal
Before rookie Brandon Jennings was making headlines for the Milwaukee Bucks, he was making negative ones for himself leading up to the beginning of the 2009-10 NBA season. Known by just about everyone because of his decision to skip college ball and play in Europe, Jennings had question marks all around him. His upside was immense and GM’s knew that Jennings had the potential to be a franchise-changing player unlike the majority of the players in last year’s draft class. However, they also knew his downside was investing money into a cancerous teammate who would repeat his lackluster performance in Rome.
Before Jennings could even step on the court he was back at it, firing his mouth away about then-teammate Ramon Sessions and Luke Ridnour. On a radio show with rapper Joe Budden, he mentioned being upset with the Knicks passing on him and deeming himself the starter over Ridnour. He also made headlines by calling out Ricky Rubio, saying he was “overrated” and not as good as Jennings after a workout with the Kings.
Bucks’ general manager John Hammond decided that the upside of Jennings was well worth the potential of failure and he selected him with the tenth overall pick in the draft. His cockiness and swagger is something that, to an extent, all great basketball players need to have, and Hammond believed Jennings had that.
What Hammond most likely did not think Jennings had was the ability to average over 20 points per game in his first six games, racking up four wins for the Bucks. In many ways, Jennings is looking like the savior that is going to save the Bucks. Rumors have floated around that have the Bucks leaving Milwaukee, but Jennings could change all that.
His situation in Milwaukee this season is eerily similar to Derrick Rose’s last season in Chicago. The Bulls had reached the playoffs in 2006 before winning just 33 games the next year. When the Bulls defied lottery odds and were awarded the number one overall pick, they selected Rose and went on to win 41 games and make the playoffs.
In Chicago, Rose has seemingly rejuvenated the Bulls and made everyone around him better. Joakim Noah is finally playing up to his potential that we all saw at Florida, Luol Deng is flourishing under Rose’s lead, and he has worked to mold rookies James Johnson and Taj Gibson into role players this season. The talent was there for the Bulls as seen by the three straight playoff appearances before 2007, but the team was growing old and John Paxson’s inability to trade for grade-A superstars had the Bulls wondering where the future would take them.
In the same sense, Jennings has done the exact same thing in Milwaukee. The Bucks made the playoffs during the 2005-2006 campaign with rookie Andrew Bogut, but three years of injuries and inconsistency had left the Bucks with nothing to show for the talent they had. Now, Jennings has utilized Bogut as the big man that every good point guard needs, and vice versa.
Six games into his young career might be a little early to start crowning him the savior for the Bucks, but in basketball more than any other sport, early starts become trends. The great ones usually start that way and do not fade as compared to baseball and football.
His skill set is very raw and at times he plays like the rookie that he is. He doesn’t seem to have picked up on the logistics of the offense yet and many times he will create for himself. But with a big man that can shoot the outside shot, the way he moves off screens has to be considered close to the top of the league, and his closing speed while going to the basket warrants a replay on most possessions.
One of his big question marks coming into his rookie campaign was defense. However, six games in he is averaging over a steal per game and limited Chauncey Billups to 6-16 shooting, gave up just one point to Chris Duhon, and forced Derrick Rose to commit five turnovers. No one will be forgetting about Chris Paul any time soon but positive returns this early in the season are always good.
Just about every aspect of his game is raw right now, but that can be a good thing, too. Sometimes just letting players go out and be athletes can bring success and it seems like head coach Scott Skiles is letting Jennings do that for the most part. It’s been an unbelievable start for a guy who, a year ago, was living out of a suitcase and traveling on a bus to foreign places in Italy to average under six points per game.
He’s got a long way to go, but Brandon Jennings is looking like the real deal.