This video is A. an illustration of Milwaukee's love for Jennings and B. some delightful over dribbling that worked out
The word is out and Tyreke Evans will be named rookie of the year later this week.
But don’t tell Bucks fans that they are supposed to want anyone else manning their team for the foreseeable future, because Brandon Jennings has captured the imagination of Milwaukee during the playoffs.
Throughout the season, Evans handily dominated the numbers in the rookie of the year debate. After all, Evans is one of just four rookies ever to average over 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. So the trophy that is on the way to his mantle is nothing if not well deserved. Jennings averages weren’t so flashy, 15.5 points and 5.7 assists and he wasn’t able to physically dominate in the same manner the hulking 6’6, 220 pound Evans was. This post season has been a shot in the arm for Jennings statistics though. Putting his regular season that featured many more nights at less than 40% shooting behind him, Jennings is currently shooting 46.2% in the playoffs while hitting 38% of his threes an turning the ball over just 1.3 times per game.
As has been his way all season, Coach Skiles has been impressed with Jennings ability to take care of the ball in the playoffs even when things haven’t gone well.
“He’s been good. Game two he struggled shooting the ball, but as he’s done most of the year, it doesn’t spill into the rest of his game,” said Coach Skiles before game four. “He’s not turning the ball over, he’s still running the offense well. So far so good, he’s played well.”
But for the vast majority of these playoffs, Jennings has done more than just “play well”. Jennings has seen his modest 14.5 PER skyrocket up to 23.3 in the playoffs, largely due to his drastic 7.5% improvement in true shooting percentage. In fact, during these playoffs, Jennings has held up very well when compared to other budding stars at the point guard position. Allow me to present exhibit A, a breakdown of usage, turnover percentage and true shooting percentage. Essentially, we’ll see what point guards are using the most possessions and whether they are using them effectively. (Stats are accurate as of before Tuesday’s games)
[table id=15 /]
While each of these players has a very different role in his respective team’s offense, I think it’s fair to say Jennings is, at the very least, competitive among some of the better young point guards in the league. He hasn’t exactly been super-human like Russell Westbrook, but had Jennings simply played an average game in the second game of the series (he shot 3-15 while notching just two assists), who knows how good his numbers could look right now.
But as it has been all year with him, it’s about so much more than the statistics with Brandon Jennings.
With Andrew Bogut out of the lineup, Jennings has taken the reigns as the team’s emotional leader and ambassador to the fans. It’s Jennings you saw waving his arms in the air as the final seconds ticked off in the Bucks game four victory. It’s Jennings that was preening and prancing after hitting three early three-point shots in a game three victory and it’s Jennings who has the crowd in the palm of his hand.
“I feel like the crowd, they set the tone,” said Jennings after game four. “They’re the ones that get us going. I can’t wait until Friday, to come back home and try and finish up the series hopefully. It’s been exciting. I’ve been hear all year, this is the loudest I’ve ever heard the Bradley Center.”
Coach Skiles has seen Jennings growth as a leader in the playoffs.
“I think the guys understand that he’s got a lot of talent. And he’s not afraid of playing at this level, he’s not afraid of playing in the playoffs. Every game he tries to come out and be aggressive. So far in this series he’s made the floater a little bit, his three has gone in and obviously it’s a big boost for us when he starts a game knocking down shots because it allows our crowd to get in the game.”
So maybe Brandon Jennings wasn’t the rookie of the year this season. But you’d be hard pressed to find many in Milwaukee who think the city didn’t get a perfect fit in the kid with no fear and a thing for the playoffs.