Posted on: July 20, 2011 8:32 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 8:50 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver.
Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings is the type of young point guard who operates on the poles. His play is sensational or cringe-inducing, brilliant or regrettable. He's not yet reliable as a shooter, shot selecter or distributor, but he's still 21 years old, one of the quickest players in the league and extremely fast with the ball in his hands.
He needs to develop and progress as he enters his third NBA season -- he admitted as much recently in a recent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel interview -- but the 6-foot-1 Jennings is capable of putting together a highlight-reel dunk on par with anyone in the league, regardless of size.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Jennings showed up at Baltimore's Carmelo Anthony Youth Development Center on Monday night, where he delivered a ridiculous above-the-rim dunk that set the crowd off. Jennings gathers a defensive rebound and dribbles up in transition, opting to throw the basketball off the backboard to himself as he reaches the three-point line. As he cruises past a pair of defenders in the paint, Jennings rises high to catch the pass and slam the ball through the rim with two-hands. His dunk elicits elation, as two hefty gentlemen dance around on the court before bumping bellies.
Here's the look at the video courtesy of YouTube user HoopMixTape.
Hat tip: HoopMixTape.com.
Posted on: July 18, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: July 18, 2011 1:38 pm
Posted by Matt Moore
Remember when Brandon Jennings was neck and neck with Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry for Rookie of the Year? Those were good times.
Remember when Jennings suffered a foot injury and wound up missing a bunch of games and showed no real improvement? Yeah, that was sad. Especially for Bucks fans.
The good news is that Jennings is dedicated to improving significantly from his disappointing 2010-2011 season. He told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he's focusing on his basics and working out harder than he has since he was 18. This is not saying much since Jennings is only 21, but still. From the Journal-Sentinel:
"I'm just getting back to the basics of basketball," said Jennings, who worked out regularly at the team's training facility before the NBA lockout was imposed July 1. "Just working on my fundamentals. Getting set back last year with the injury made me have a different approach to the game. It's not (taken for) granted.via Jennings goes back to fundamentals - JSOnline.
All-Star, huh? Those are big words from Jennings, and not just because he'll need to make huge strides in multiple areas to improve to that level. He's also facing the most stacked position in basketball. League MVP Derrick Rose and Rajon Rondo both play in his conference, as does rising star John Wall. Jennings has a ways to go to get to that level. But he's working. He also said that he's working on dribbling and finishing with his right, which sounds simple, until you realize it's one of the things Tony Parker worked for years on.
But if Jennings is making upgrades to his game, he needs to try out his shot selection. Jenning shot just 39 percent from the field last season and 32 percent from three-point range. His true shooting percentage (factoring three-point shooting and free throws) was one of the worst among point guards (though still better than Baron Davis), even though he was 12th overall in usage among point guards. Jennings has to learn to ease back on the trigger finger and let the game come to him. If he can make the Bucks' overall offense better, that might be an All-Star worthy performance.
Posted on: July 9, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: July 10, 2011 1:39 pm
A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Central Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.
Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division and the Atlantic Division. Let's continue this series with the Central Division.
The Bulls won the Central by a preposterous margin in 2010-2011, stacking up a league-high 62 wins and burying their division mates by a ridiculous 25 games, by far the biggest margin of any division winner. Nothing has happened yet this offseason which suggests next year's results will be any different. Even if the Milwaukee Bucks return to full health or the Indiana Pacers make a key free agent addition or the Detroit Pistons finally emerge from their slog or the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully start the Kyrie Irving era, the only thing stopping the Bulls from running away from the competition again is an injury to Derrick Rose. The Bulls are, by far, the most talented and deepest team in the division. They have the reigning MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year. They're poised to be championship title contenders for the next five years.
With so much going for them, the Bulls clearly have the most to lose in a lockout. If a season is lost, that's a title chase that evaporates. Perhaps most important, the Bulls would lose that visceral desire for redemption that comes with the ugly end to their season. It was a disappointing, frustrating loss to their new archrivals, the Miami Heat, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The pain of that loss subsides with time. It's ability to serve as unifying inspiration will fade too. The Bulls want revenge and they want rings. The pieces are in place. Besides aging teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, who face the possibility of their championship window closing, the Bulls don't want to sit around and wait. They created some amazing chemistry last season, built strong trust bonds. Losing a season risks all of that.
The upstart Pacers are up to something: they finally committed to Frank Vogel as their coach, they brought on former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard to serve as Director of Player Personnel, they made a solid draft day trade to acquire point guard George Hill and they sit on a mound of cap space ready to make a splash in free agency. The Pacers risk two things if a season is lost. First, a critical development year to see how their young pieces are able to gel together. Second, A feeling of certainty in terms of team expectations.
Indiana has assembled some nice, young talent: Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough and Hill are all 25 or younger. Depending on how they use their cap space and whether they decide to move Danny Granger, that has all the makings of a promising core that could reliably make playoff runs for the foreseeable future. But the group needs time to spend together, reps to get things right and an evaluation period to see whether all four belong long-term. They look great on paper but more data -- playing together -- is needed. A lost season risks that and potentially stalls the development of those younger guys.
The real risk is free agency. Indiana has just $36 million committed in salary next season, meaning they have one of the smallest payrolls in the league. They also have an expiring contract in James Posey to move and potentially could move Granter if they were looking to make a major splash. Their combination of flexibility and talent on-hand is near the tops in the league when it comes to rebuilding teams. A delayed season pushes that promise back and while teams with space are definitely sitting in a better position than teams without space, it's unclear what additional rules might be in place that inhibit free agent movement. If you're the Pacers you'd prefer to be able to chase a guy like David West now without any messy collective bargaining negotiations getting in the way. Put simply, the Pacers are a team on the rise, but a lot has to go right for young teams to reach their potential. Even minor things can throw a team off course. The less variables, the better. Unfortunately, the CBA is a major, major variable.
This team is just confusing. The Stephen Jackson trade made a bit of sense, given that the Bucks needed a serviceable alternative to Brandon Jennings at point guard and got one in Beno Udrih, but this group isn't going anywhere meaningful, not even if Jennings and center Andrew Bogut are fully healthy.
About the only thing lost in a lockout for the Bucks is another year for Jennings to bloom. His sophomore years was sidetracked by injuries and poor outside shooting, and he questioned his teammates' desire to win at the end of the regular season. Other than Jennings, Larry Sanders and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could use more developmental minutes but the rest of the roster is essentially veterans who have reached their potential.
From a cynical standpoint, Bucks ownership could be cheering a lost season because it would mean cash savings on ugly deals for Jackson and big man Drew Gooden. Is it worth saving the combined $15 million that will go to Jackson and Gooden in 2011-2012 to lose a year of floor leadership training for Jennings?
The Pistons are another confounding mess, but at least it feels like they've turned a corner thanks to the sale of the team, the departure of reviled coach John Kuester and the drafting of point guard Brandon Knight and wing Kyle Singler. Last year was one, long, ugly grind. 2011-2012 figures to be a step in the right direction.
Knight slipped out of the top five of the 2011 NBA Draft because of questions about his position. Is he a pure point guard? Can he run an NBA offense? Will he be able to execute something besides the pick-and-roll game? His future is incredibly bright but as a one-and-done player he absolutely needs as much playing time as possible to get a feel for the NBA style and to get comfortable with the ball in his hands and a team of professionals that look to him first. There's no other way to learn the point guard position than by on-the-job training, and recent success stories like Rose and Russell Westbrook only reinforce that idea. A year away from the game at this stage would be a critical loss for Knight and the Pistons, and that's a major risk.
The same is true, to a lesser degree, for big man Greg Monroe, who came on strong in the second half of his rookie season and appears to be a potential core piece going forward. 2011-2012 is all about letting Knight and Monroe build up a chemistry together
A lost season would certainly be welcomed by ownership here too because Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva all failed to live up to their big-dollar contract figures last season. Hamilton and Villanueva, in particular, seem like lost causes. Weighing the savings from these deals versus the lost development of Knight, the Pistons should probably be pretty close to indifferent when it comes to losing a season. They need work, they know they need work and the rebuild can only come as these big contracts get closer to their conclusion and become more tradeable. Still, it would seem to be better to continue that journey with Knight getting more familiar and comfortable day-by-day, month-by-month than it would having him workout solo in a gym somewhere. If you've committed to a rebuild, start it immediately.
Last but not least, we have the Cavaliers, the NBA's second-worst team from last season, who endured an embarrasing 26 game losing streak to set an NBA record for consecutive futility. There's significant light at the end of the tunnel for the Cavaliers, as they have an owner committed to spending money to win, the 2011 NBA Draft's No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson, who was taken No. 4 overall.
Cleveland is in much the same position as the Pistons: the biggest risk from losing a season is the lost reps that Irving won't get running the show. There are always some bumps and bruises for a young point guard transitioning from college to the NBA, and the potential for struggles is even more pronounced in Irving's case because he missed much of last season, his freshman year at Duke University, with a foot injury. Time away from the game is not good. The shorter, the better. Irving was clearly the most NBA-ready point guard in this year's draft crop and the Cavaliers would be smart to turn the keys over to him from Day 1, even with veterans Baron Davis, Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions on the roster as well.
That raises a secondary risk of the lockout season for the Cavaliers: losing positional clarity. Cleveland clearly needs to move one, if not two, of their point guards to clear the deck for Irving and surround him with some solid complementary pieces. A lost season just delays that process. Saving the money from Davis' contract is tempting, but it's a non-factor for owner Dan Gilbert who would just as soon pay that tax to watch his young team start the rebuild. Along those same lines, an entire season lost could mean the Cavaliers aren't able to move Antawn Jamison's $15 million expiring contract, a nice trade asset that could potentially bring a rotation player in return.
Tags: 2011 NBA Lockout, Andrew Bogut, Antawn Jamison, Baron Davis, Ben Gordon, Brandon Jennings, Brandon Knight, Charlie Villanueva, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert, Darren Collison, Derrick Rose, Detroit Pistons, Drew Gooden, George Hill, Indiana Pacers, Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee Bucks, NBA lockout, Paul George, Richard Hamilton, Roy HIbbert
Posted on: May 22, 2011 12:32 pm
The Milwaukee Bucks are reportedly open to trading point guard Brandon Jennings. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings had the definition of a sophomore slump. After being a strong contender for 2010 Rookie of the Year, Jennings had a tough second campaign. He suffered a serious foot injury in December, lashed out at teammates and management in April and saw his stats take a big hit as he struggled to adjust to extra defensive attention. His team took a step backwards too, returning to the NBA Draft Lottery.
Has that series of events soured the Bucks on the idea of Jennings as their point guard of the future?
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports from the Chicago pre-draft combine that Jennings is not untouchable. "The Milwaukee Bucks reportedly would be open to listening to offers for guard Brandon Jennings," the paper notes.
The biggest issue for Milwaukee last season is that they simply couldn't score the ball efficiently, ranking dead last in the NBA in offensive efficiency. Fixing that predicament generally begins with an assessment of the point guard situation, and while Jennings is incredibly crafty off the dribble his tendency to take ill-advised three-pointers when he averaged just 32.3% from deep is an efficiency killer. His assist numbers also fell -- to 4.8 assists per game -- and Milwaukee was ranked in the bottom five for assist rate, a fact that speaks to their lack of quality looks.
As for trading him? Getting back equal value for a young point guard who has yet to reach his potential and is still on a rookie deal will not be an easy task and the Bucks don't have another starting-quality option to turn the team over to.
In other words, the chances are pretty good that Jennings stays put unless he burned some bridges with his comments in April. To make this work, the Bucks need to surround Jennings with better shooters and find a way to get through to him that he needs to exercise some better shot selection.
Posted on: April 4, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: April 4, 2011 8:01 pm
Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings lashes out at his teammates and management. Posted by Ben Golliver.
As we noted back at the end of December, the Milwaukee Bucks are one of the few teams this season that entered the 2010-2011 campaign with major expectations and then fell flat on their faces. There are a bunch of bad teams in the NBA but, by and large, the lottery teams today are the lottery teams that were expected in October.
The Bucks, however, entered this season by extending coach Scott Skiles and with the playoffs, and possibly contending for a Central Division title, in mind. That didn't happen. At all.
At 31-45, Milwaukee will soon be mathematically eliminated from the playoff picture and Brandon Jennings isn't happy about it. The Racine Journal-Times reports that the second year point guard is blasting off in every direction, calling out his teammates for their lack of effort and his team's management for their moves.
After the Bucks were virtually eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoffs in a loss Friday to the Indiana Pacers, Bucks starting point guard Brandon Jennings publicly expressed what many of his teammates had privately felt for months. "Some guys have the mind-set of winning on the team and some guys just don't,'' Jennings said.
Jennings then an indirectly took a shot at Bucks general manager John Hammond, assistant general manager Jeff Weltman and coach Scott Skiles, the three biggest personnel decision-makers in the organization next to owner Herb Kohl. "We traded a lot of pieces I feel like we should have kept,'' Jennings said. "But that's part of the business and you've got to roll with it.''Jennings is 21 years old, has dealt with a foot injury that caused him to miss a bunch of time this season and is an emotional person who wears his heart on his sleeve. With that said, true point guards and leaders are better than this.
Clearly, any assessment of responsibility should start with Jennings himself. He's taken a step backwards this season statistically, averaging less than five assists per game despite starting 55 games so far and playing more than 34 minutes a night. Sure, the shooting talent around him leaves a lot to be desired, but ramping up his ability to get others involved would be a great first step in launching a "winning mindset" among his teammates.
Speaking of the winning mindset, jacking five three-pointers a game when you shoot 32.5% from downtown is the opposite of a winning mindset. That's just bleeding inefficiency all over the court and setting up your team for failure. Three options: become a better shooter, take better shots or take fewer shots. The math on those numbers will never compute to success and it's not anyone else's fault. That's on Jennings.
Questioning your team's management is almost never a good idea in the NBA, especially when you're 21 years old. Nothing good can come from it and that type of thing has the power to alter a franchise's path in a negative way, cutting into the trust that needs to exist between front office and star player. If something needs to be said, say it behind closed doors.
Hopefully there's someone that's in Jennings' ear right now letting him know that if he continues to be the 27th most efficient point guard in the NBA he better get used to dealing with the losing, regardless of how hard he's trying. Succeeding in the NBA isn't always about effort and dedication. No one can question Jennings' love of the game, but he needs to develop his understanding of its nuances as well as the ability to hold himself accountable on the court before pointing fingers off of it.
Posted on: March 26, 2011 6:42 pm
Edited on: March 26, 2011 11:14 pm
Tom Thibodeau is the talk of the town in Chicago. But as his Bulls meet the Bucks tonight, he'll face a coach who follows in his model, and should serve as a warning of when to let up on the pedal.
Posted by Matt Moore
Tom Thibodeau is red hot right now. As much as people credit Derrick Rose and his MVP season with the rise of the Bulls, Thibodeau gets the other half of that credit. Consider for a moment that a key starter and heavy-minutes player for Thibodeau is Carlos Boozer, who Marc Gasol breezed by Friday night in the Bulls' nail-biter win over Memphis. Despite Boozer's defensive shortcomings and Rose's inexperience, the Bulls' defense is tops because of Thibodeau's coaching. It's his system combined with his notorious intensity that makes him such a fierce challenge to face across the scorer's table.
But if Thibodeau wants a warning sign about where that intensity can sometimes lead, he need only look across the table Saturday night at Scott Skiles, who knows not only the team Thibodeau's coaching, but what can happen when a coach pushes his team to the point where his team tunes out his intensity.
It's forgotten now as all such things are in hindsight, but Skiles was very similar to Thibodeau on the eve of the season opener in 2007. Despite the formation of the Boston Big 3, no one knew how that team would gel. What they did know was that the Bulls had been on the upswing every season and were in line to challenge for the Eastern Conference Finals. They were a young team with talent at multiple positions, a star guard in Ben Gordon, and defensive talent out the wazoo. They had toppled the defending champion Miami Heat in the first round, and lost to mighty Pistons in six games in the semis. 2007-2008 was supposed to be their year, behind stellar guard play and incredible defense led by Skiles' intensity.
Yeah, not so much.
The Bulls plummeted out of the gate and never recovered. It was like watching debris fall of a crashing airplane. You would see bits and pieces and know there was no recovery. By Christmas, actually, on Christmas Eve, Skiles was fired by the Bulls. He had quite simply lost the team. That's the cost of pushing your team verbally and physically. If things start to come undone, they come undone quickly, violently, and are nearly impossible to recover. When things go right for a coach that pushes like that, things are great, you're considered a genius, everyone respects you, and you're lauded as a top-notch disciplinarian coach. When things go badly, you run the risk of your players quitting on you, tuning you out, and once that happens, the effectiveness is over. From there it's just a matter of time until the pink slip comes in the mail.
Hmmm... great guard play... excellent defense... questionable offense... great run in the playoffs spelling a good chance for the future... followed by a plummet out of the gate and an eventually disappointing season in which people start to question if the coach has lost the team. If this sounds like what has gone on in Milwaukee this season to you, congratulations, you're solid at recognizing patterns.
Skiles was supposed to take the Bucks to the next level this season. GM John Hammond loaded up on offensive weapons like Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden to supplement Skiles' defensive prowess, and with Andrew Bogut coming back from surgery and Brandon Jennings entering his sophomore season along with a loaded frontline of versatile, athletic defenders, there was no reason to think the Bucks couldn't secure a strong playoff spot and make some progress towards contention. Instead? The offense is somehow, magically, even worse, and it's not all Andrew Bogut's slow-to-heal elbow and the injury woes of Brandon Jennings. The Bucks simply cannot score.
While the Bucks remain a top five team defensively, the offense is second to last in the league. They have never found that extra gear. Even with Bogut's injury, the team had enough talent to contend. This could just be a down year, something they'll bounce back from. But more than one person has suggested that Skiles has already started to lose the team.
Meanwhile, the media can't write enough feel-good pieces about Tom Thibodeau and his intensity leading to the Bulls' incredible season. That their offense is middle of the pack is overlooked in a barrage of "check out what Derrick Rose did" commentary. Things are great for Thibodeau right now, and it's entirely possible that this is the start of the next great career coach for the Bulls. The Bulls winning the title is not outside the realm of possibility.
But as much as the Bulls players may love playing for a coach who is constantly looking to improve, to find new ways to win, and to challenge his guys, there's always that possibility that at some point, it just stops. There aren't warning signs when a team stops listening. There aren't red flags, public comments, and it's impossible to predict when. If it was, Stan Van Gundy would have been fired seventy times by now. It just happens. It may never happen to Thibodeau. But just as he enjoys the good times and looks forward to making the Bulls the best they can possibly be, there's always that shadow of possibility looming overhead that he should keep an eye on. And if he wants to look it in the eye, just look his opponent's coach in the eye after they shake hands Saturday night.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 7:04 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 7:17 pm
The top three candidates for the NBA's 2010 Rookie of the Year have all struggled with injuries and adjustments in their second season. Posted by Ben Golliver.
LOS ANGELES – Sacramento Kings guard Tyreke Evans, Milwaukee Bucks guard Brandon Jennings and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry all enjoyed charmed rookie seasons, each providing highlight-reel material and consistent production to make a competitive run at last season’s Rookie of the Year honor. The second time through the NBA's season-long obstacle course hasn't been smooth sailing for any of them, however. Evans has been limited by plantar fasciitis, Jennings had surgery on his foot and Curry has battled persistent and painful ankle problems.
"A lot of guys have had a lot of injuries," Evans said after the Sophomore team's morning practice on Friday, in advance of Friday night's Rookie/Sophomore challenge. "Hopefully we'll get them out of the way now, be ready for next year."
Evans' foot pain is forcing him to miss the Rookie/Sophomore challenge. "I know it ain't 100 percent, it's hurting me kinda bad, so I want to see the doctor and see what he says," Evans said. Similarly, Jennings was scheduled to compete in the Slam Dunk contest but pulled out to avoid putting any unnecessary wear on his healing foot.
The injuries have been just the beginning of the challenges facing this year's sophomores. All three have watched their teams struggle to below .500 records at the break and all three have had to deal with defenses that are more focused on stopping them individually and roughing them up.
"It's totally different than your first year," Jennings said. "[During your rookie year], a lot of coaches don't know you, they don't know your game. Everything is totally different. It's an adjustment you have to make. [This year,] they play me tougher, they're showing on the pick and rolls, they're more physical, they force me to my right more."
Confronting new and improved defensive schemes, while also working his way back into form, is doubly challenging. "The injury has been a mental thing, I've got to put it back together, get back to a winning mentality."
The mental adjustments have been a focus for Curry as well. "It's more of a cerebral game this year," Curry said. "You have to sit back and prepare and approach it a different way."
His biggest adjustment has been getting comfortable with a new-look Warriors lineup that includes forward David Lee and big man Ekpe Udoh. "It's just about seeing the floor and managing the game better. I had new teammates that had to get to know and learn, and where they wanted the ball, how to play with them. As a point guard, that's your first job, to get everybody involved in the game. That's something that I've really had to study film, study the flow of the game, make sure we're getting the shot that we want."
Curry noted that, despite the injuries, he's more accustomed to the physical pounding the second time around. "Last year was worse. Coming in, most of the initial attacks from the opponents were taking me or Monta [Ellis] into the post to try to exploit that. We hold our own now, we don't really give up too much space and ground in that situation."
The Sophomore team's coach, Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, called the trio's struggles with injuries "purely coincidental" and said things could be a lot worse. "The summer between your first and second year as an NBA player is your hardest summer, that's a dangerous summer, especially if you've had success your first year. You feel a little puffy about yourself. You feel like you've arrived. But you realize, now you're on everyone's radar. They're gunning for you. They're coming after you."
Frank's message to Evans, Jennings, Curry and the sophomore group: this is just another step on a path of continual improvement and the target on their backs is only going to get bigger. "You've got to get better. If you stay the same, you've gotten worse."
Posted on: February 14, 2011 1:18 pm
Posted by Royce Young
As the days of a potential lockout near, the more we hear of players trying to come up with a backup basketball plan. Most of that involves Europe.
The hangup there is their current contract situations. For instance, Kobe is signed by the Lakers through 2014. If he were to play in Europe, he'd have to sign a new contract with a new team, which you know, can't happen because he's already under contract in Los Angeles. Unless it's bought out. Or if the team just says it's totally cool, which most won't because it's a major risk with injuries and such.
But that's not even the main hurdle to get over. Before anything, FIBA has to allow it.
However, a player can move to a foreign tem is he's cleared by FIBA and the issue is whether or not FIBA would allow players who are under contract in the NBA to come over because of a lockout.
ESPN.com reports that the NBA Player's Association thinks players will indeed get clearance from FIBA. "NBA teams ultimately will not be able to legally enforce contracts during an NBA shutdown, whether it's short or long."
Also in that report is that the NBPA is advising players that it's a major risk if they go to Europe (or anywhere overseas) because they could be forfeiting their NBA contract if they get injured there. So if Dirk goes to Germany and tears both ACLs, he probably won't have his Mavericks contract anymore. That's a pretty huge risk to take and one I doubt players are really that interested in.
But the threat is there and it sends a pretty good message to the league that the players are looking at their options. They don't intend to twiddle their thumbs waiting for negotiations to get hashed out. If they have to look elsewhere, they will.
And by the sound of it, they'll at least have the option.