Meet Brad Jennings: Bucks 96 – Pistons 85

That little point guard that can’t shoot and was a possible misfit who played in Europe for a year?  Brandon Jennings, was his name?

He’s gone apparently.

In his place is an offensive dynamo that can score from the paint or from behind the three point arc.  His name?  Brad Jennings. 

In as bizarre and lengthy a pregame introduction ceremony as one could ever imagine, each Bucks player got on a podium and was introduced by different members of the local workforce.  When it came time for Brandon Jennings introduction, the lady who was responsible mistakenly referred to him as Brad Jennings.  This seemed to fall right in line with the Bucks first half play.

The Bucks were out of sync and downright terrible at time.  The Bucks shot 30% in the first half, everyone not named Hakim Warrick lacked any type of aggressiveness and the loudest ovation from a crowd ready to turn on their team came when Danny Gokey took the stage at halftime.

Maybe that served to inspire the Bucks or maybe Scott Skiles is a genious for letting Jennings work the pick and roll game with whoever was willing, either way the third quarter was the Brandon Jennings Show.  In ten third quarter minutes Jennings had a +18 +/- ratio, piling up 16 points and two steals with only one turnover.  The Bucks took the third quarter 36-14 and were able to hold the lead the rest of the way.   If Friday night was Jennings’ coming out party, then Saturday was his “hey, I’m out and I’m staying out and no one will tell me to come back in” party.

It truly was a special ten minute display.  Each time Jennings shot I thought it couldn’t possibly go in again, yet time and time again he sank shots and ran back to half court, jacked up his shorts and did everything short of slapping the hardwood to fire everyone up.  If this doesn’t bring back a few of the fans who thought opening night would be good enough to satisfy their Bucks craving for the year, nothing will.

Offense

  • Jennings should probably have his back checked out after his performance.  Take makes and attempts out of the books and the Bucks shot just 38%.  Jennings finished with only three assists, but that had a lot to do with what was going on around him.  Only Jennings (24) and Warrick (21) scored in double figures for the Bucks.
  • Michael Redd was limited to just 24 minutes with what’s being reported as left knee soreness.  Yes, the same knee that was operated on in January.  Should we be worried?  Maybe.  While I’m sure it’s natural to have some minor soreness problems after a major surgery like the one Redd had, the Bucks have had a history of initially reporting something as minor, only to have that player miss a significant amount of time later.  Example: Andrew Bogut circa 2008-09.  If Redd is okay, the more significant problem is that he continues to miss wide open threes.  Jennings found him numerous times tonight with no one near him behind the arc and Redd finished just 1-4 from deep.
  • I mentioned Hakim Warrick’s aggressiveness and 21 points before, but that doesn’t really do it justice.  I was at the game with a friend who A. doesn’t care for the NBA and B. doesn’t care for the Bucks and he continuously marveled at the way Warrick attacked the basket.  The ongoing theme for the evening was that Warrick paid little attention to the fact that people were in his way, because all he cared about was getting to the rim and attempting to dunk on someone.  It rarely worked out that way (see 5-14 shooting), but it did allow him to make 15 trips to the charity stripe, ten of which he converted.  On both accounts he almost had as many as the rest of the Bucks combined (Warrick 10-15, everyone else 14-18).  I like this.
  • I’ll say this about Andrew Bogut’s “post moves” repertoire and his ability to convert any of these “moves”: I hope they are a work in progress and I’d much rather see them worked on in practice than in games.  Just catch passes from Jennings when he gets in the lane, convert those and then play good defense and rebound.  No need to force anything else.

Defense

  • Welcome back Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. LRMAM was noticeably ineffective in the Bucks opener Friday, but looked much more active Saturday night.  It shows up in the numbers too, as he finished with seven points and eight rebounds.  He’s still yet to record a steal or a block, but those numbers don’t mean as much as the rebounds do.  If he’s attacking the glass and hitting the occasional jumper that means he needs to be accounted for.  If he needs to be accounted for, it gives Brandon Jennings more freedom to gamble on defense and get into the paint on offense.  (Notice how things are always coming back to Brad…Brandon Jennings?  That’s what potential franchise players do.)
  • Dan Gadzuric looked like Danny G circa 2005 for a while tonight.  He was bouncing around, finishing around the hoop and generally being a productive energy guy.  Eight points, five rebounds and a block in 12 minutes (including the last few after Bogut fouled out) is a perfect night from Gadz.  He even corralled a key loose ball and took a charge (that they actually called in his favor!) in the fourth.

Overall it was some kind of night at the Bradley Center.  I’m used to people not caring and generally showing up at Bucks games just because it’s something to do, but people were nearly laughing at the team after the first half.  But Brandon Jennings changed an entire culture in about ten minutes.  The BC was rocking like it was 2001 and optimism swept over everyone like confetti falling from the ceiling.  Could the Bucks have found something in this point guard who looks more like a college student than a professional basketball assassin?  Maybe.  But one thing is for certain … his name is Brandon, not Brad.

For Bucks fans it will soon be impossible to forget.

Categories: Recaps

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball. He founded it in…

6 Comments

  1. I’m shocked by how much Jennings has improved over the summer and the preseason. It makes me wonder what they worked on with him over in Europe, if they did at all. During Summer League, he had horrible shot mechanics. He faded away when he didn’t have to, he was always kicking his legs scissor style and he rarely held a follow through, instead just quickly dropping his hands. He also didn’t have the necessary floater that point guards need to have as he would always try to outleap big men around the hoop, rarely succeeding in Europe or in Summer League. He’s fixed or added to his game what was necessary in a very shot amount of time.

  2. He hit two floaters in the paint today. That’s the shot that’s really going to be key for him. Hitting the three point shot is more like icing on the cake. But the floater is like the sugar in the cake, he needs it. More often than not he’ll get blocked on layups, but if he can keep guys honest with the floater when he gets by level one defenders, then he’ll really be something.

  3. I,m really hoping that the reason Redd and Bogut have been so bad is the long layoff, plus the back-to-back games. Because neither has looked good so far. But I guess it’s a good sign that the Bucks actually managed to win this one anyway. And Warrick needs to play like that all year, the Bucks need that kind of aggressiveness in a major way.

  4. Besides Brandon Jennings making me forget Ramon Sessions, the thing I’m most excited about is Ersan being back. Unfortunately, I think he has eliminated the step-back three from his set of moves and replaced it with an up fake followed by him tripping on his own feet. Between him and Warrick, it’s a toss-up on who has the most clumsy footwork. It’ll be interesting to see how Redd plays and if he can draw interest from teams regardless of his ridiculous salary.

  5. If Redd could remember how good of a shooter he was in his first three years and start doing that again he’d be the perfect compliment to Jennings. Someone suggested to me that his slingshot release does not get better with age though. Interesting thought.

    When Ersan shoots with confidence he looks terrific and spaces the floor well. I’m already thinking he’ll be able to do everything that Chuck V. did.

  6. If Warrick and Mbah a Moute can be adequate offensively, I like having the two of them out there at the end of the game to defend the perimeter. They’re long and active, and will be crucial in doubling when larger guys take Jennings to the post.

    And Jennings is one of the nicest passers I’ve seen, especially for his age. Every pass is crisp, and usually its in the shooting pocket.