Brandon Jennings Sacrificing Personal Numbers For Team Success
Brandon Jennings made a splash very quickly in the NBA scoring 55 points in just his seventh game in the league. The 20-year-old became the youngest player in the history of the NBA to score 55 points, and he broke the Bucks' team record for most points scored by a rookie previously held by some guy named Lew Alcindor.
While the show he put on in Milwaukee on November 14th of this season was one for the ages, it also unfairly amped up the expectations for the rookie. All of a sudden people were expecting him to put up big scoring numbers every night out while his coaching staff was more focused on trying to help him learn how to run a NBA team.
"I think sometimes people don't understand that I'm only a rookie," said Jennings. "55 points was just one night, but I guess when you don't score like that every night people go, 'Oh, he's hitting the rookie wall.' I've also heard them say, 'Oh, he's not being consistent.' People forget that was only the seventh game of my rookie season in the NBA, and I still didn't know what to expect. I was just playing basketball."
Jennings has never been afraid to go against the grain. Last season he opted to skip college and instead play for Lottomatica Roma in Italy. It was a move that made him a lightning rod for controversy, but it was also a move that he believes has helped better prepare for the rigors of life in the NBA than the NCAA ever could have.
"It was a decision I made, and I thought I made the best decision at the time," Jennings explained. "And I still think I made the right decision to this day. I think just being able to play professional basketball for a year and to be out there competing with grown men everyday is helping me right now in the NBA."
One could make an argument that Jennings deserves to win Rookie of The Year. While he's not putting up huge numbers every night like Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry, he is the only one of the three attempting to lead a team to the playoffs as a rookie.
"I feel like since I'm not putting up the big numbers like some of the other rookies I guess they feel like I'm not doing much," Jennings said with a shrug. "Yeah, I have a good supporting cast, but at the same time a lot of people didn't think that we'd be where we're at right now. Everybody had us finishing at the bottom, so I feel like a lot of people are just trying to make excuses now about why I'm not one of the top rookies or why I'm not this or why I'm not that. It all sounds like just excuses to me."
For those who watch Jennings play frequently, it's apparent he's trying to run the team the way Scott Skiles wants him to as opposed to trying to get his own every night.
"I'm glad you said that because one of my teammates just said that the other day," Jennings asserted. "He said, 'Well, do you think if Brandon was on some of these other teams he wouldn't average 20 points a game if he was getting up 20 shots?' And another thing is if I wanted to I could say forget this. Forget trying to make the playoffs, and let me get my numbers so I can try and get Rookie of The Year. But why do that? We are working so hard right now and have a chance to lock down the fifth spot, and we might as well keep that going."
Teammates are especially appreciative of Jennings' efforts to become a true floor leader as a rookie.
"He's been huge," said Bucks center Andrew Bogut. "After he scored the 55 points, the next couple of games I was getting easy buckets because teams were so focused on trapping him in the pick-and-roll. Teams later started adjusting to that and that got our three-point shooters going because people were packing it in the paint. He does a great job of picking his spots. He's really figuring out when he can take over a game offensively and when he can get guys involved. That's the biggest challenge as a rookie, especially for a scoring point guard like Brandon."
While many casual fans who just look at the box score might not be aware of Jennings' continued evolution as a point guard, his head coach Scott Skiles has been watching it since the first day the kid arrived in Milwaukee in late June just prior to summer league play in Las Vegas.
"We first got him in our program when we saw him for summer league training camp," Skiles recalled. "He's made a lot of progress. He's learned a lot about the pro game and become good at running the club, which is a hard thing to learn. He's still working on his shot-selection, but his defense has gotten better. He's also been a low turnover player. He's improved pretty consistently as the year has gone on."
Those who know Skiles well will tell you that his words about Jennings are more than simply empty praise since the coach always picks his words very carefully. Skiles is known for being a demanding coach, especially with his point guards. Dude knows a little bit about playing the position, too, considering he still holds the record for most assists in a NBA game of 30 set against the Denver Nuggets on December 30th, 1990.
"I think it's a blessing," Jennings said of being coached by Skiles. "He was a good point guard in the NBA, and he's teaching me a lot of things that I need to know. He has me out there in late game situations, so I feel like he's starting to trust me a little bit to try and make plays for other people. Just to know that he's played in the NBA and he actually knows what he's talking about is a big help."
When asked about Skiles' reputation for demanding a lot out of his point guards, Jennings replied with a grin: "Oh yeah, he's been tough on me. Since he was a point guard himself he's expected a lot out of me since day one. He's going to push you, and a lot of guys don't like to be pushed like that. You got All-Stars sometimes that might want to question him and be like, 'I know what I'm doing.' For me, I just listen to what he says and keep playing basketball. You can't get caught up in the moment. You've just got to keep playing because the guy knows what he's talking about."
It's quite possible Jennings won't win the NBA's Rookie of The Year Award once this season concludes. Most everyone has heard by now the 20-5-5 stat that Evans has maintained for most of the season in Sacramento. If Evans finishes the season averaging 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists he will be only the third rookie to do so joining Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan. That's no doubt an impressive feat, but Evans is doing it on a losing team.
Meanwhile, Jennings is learning how to be a floor general on a playoff team. Not bad for a 20-year-old kid who doesn't weight more than 160 pounds soaking wet
by travis h
He also had his shooting percentage drop each month so that could also be a reason for adjusting and passing more IMO
Jennings is mature far beyond his years. He's like a 30 yr old vet in a 20yr old body.
thats what happens sometimes when you change youre game and start to take less shots every month
Even though the Bucks are going to make the playoffs and Jennings has a lot to do with that, he's not the ROY. Evans is and it shouldn't even be close. The shooting slump hurt Jennings.
i dont think he should get it either since its based on what you do as a individual and not team success
you can be on a horrible team and put up great numbers and you should get rookie of the year because thats what its based upon
Can't you argue that both ways? A person could say that Jennings changed his game and started taking less shots because of his slump, not the other way around.
Personally.. I think Curry deserves it
But Jennings is one of my favorite players.. The guys 20, and its like hes a veteran
you can be in a rebound slump or passing slump, turnover slump, defense slump, but you cant be in a scoring or shooting slump... that right there shows whats most important. scroing is always most important when dealing with individual awards like roookie of the year and mvp
Tyreke Evans is averaging 20, 5 and 5. That's MJ, LeBron and The Big O territory... Give him that award.
they should have a second award for how far rookies take there teams. thats why i liek alot of euro awards because they give many of there awards to guess who have taken there teams far over guys who have put up good stats. they are more about the team stuff over individual like we are over here. i rather watch a nba game over a euro game every day of the week though..lol
Jennings is a very good player. His shooting will improve as he has shown the ability to drop huge numbers. He just needs to work on shot selection and getting better at finishing around the rim.
I don't buy into the team success a whole lot when it comes to rookie of the year. These guys are 19 or 20 so they can't be expected to lead a team to wins. Jennings is on a veteran team that plays great defense and he is a perfect floor leader for that team.
Evans is on a team that has 9 guys who have 2 years or less NBA experience.
Evans will win ROY hands down, but Jennings is going to be a very good player in the league.
Even stephen curry said if jennings was on a sorry team he would be averaging at least 20 a game but jennings is on a loaded bucks team with a good big man who demands the ball and John salmons who takes alot of shots. Jennings he had 29pts 8assists and 7rebounds today
A "loaded" Bucks team? Jennings isn't averaging 20 because his shooting plumeted and he's now shooting 37%... I mean he's averaging 15 shots per game, five of them being from three-point.
He's had the green light for majority of the season. He should be blamed for not averaging 20, not the team he's on.
He had 29 points today, but on 24 shots. 3-10 from three-point.
NBADRAFT.net: Avoiding Bias; the Winningest players by Position
My take: the numbers dont lie but if there's anything to like about Jennings its his ability to hit the three ball, he can be a "shooting" guard on offense if he played next to Evan Turner/Tyreke Evans/John Salmons or somebody like that.
And he has good to great passing ability. His team is winning so lets cheer him on for that, and in head to head matchups bcuz the games still have to be played.
But for the record, he is the 42nd* winningest point guard in the NBA. behind Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon.
Point being having good teammates helps.
(Overall contributions on offense and defense); Anyways he is clutch but he has some work to do, and the Bucks have faith that he can improve.
Tyreke Evans is a unique case bcuz he is not really a shooting guard not really an up tempo point guard. He is just a proven baller.
His teammates will determine his success in the league in terms of rings but he can put up crazy numbers. I dont think he can be a lockdown defender tho against guys like Lebron or Carmelo etc.
But he can give you 20-30ppg a night.
Tezo83 what you talking bout dude is on a loaded team his team is going to the playoffs and brandon jennings do have bad shooting nights but when he on he can flat out score and he has shooting slumps but he in his first year wait to he gets some weight on his body and he train hard over the summer dude will be a force to be reckon with in the future and he pass better than any rookie i dont care who you name and he deserves to get some votes for R.O.Y if bucks seal a playoff spot which is more than likely