Lee Jenkins of SI.com just published a great article on Brandon Jennings’s activities during the lockout. It’s fairly common knowledge that Jennings has been playing pick-up games anywhere and everywhere. It’s really not hard to find him if you just look at his Twitter account a few times a day.
There are some excerpts that should concern Bucks fans about the franchise’s point guard.
When he [Jennings] catches the ball on the perimeter, he has a hand in his face. When he drives inside, he is slammed to the ground. Players call their own fouls, and just about every call prompts a shouting match.
This is an example of the biggest drawback against playing pick-up ball with any Joe Schmo. Anyone who has played a pickup game knows that play can escalate from light jogging to a full-on rugby match in a matter of seconds. Jennings high profile definitely attracts more physical play from people trying to stop him, but can really only foul him hard to do so. It’s a scary thought that Jennings’s NBA future could be taken away from him by a McDonalds Shift Manager.
He returns to Westchester and makes more 40-footers in front of more giddy high schoolers. He wins five straight games, scoring nine of his team’s 11 points in one of them, and all 11 in another. He is bothered only after he cuts his hand on the rim with a dunk.
Even some shoddy equipment could sideline Jennings. He could trip on a crack in asphalt! It happens! I’m getting an anxiety attack now.
A slightly worrisome part of that last excerpt is that he’s taking 40-foot jumpers regularly. If he were any other player, I wouldn’t worry about this, but it’s Jennings so there is little to no faith that his shot selection will get better.
But now for some good:
He has spent the summer digging up his playground roots, rediscovering the streetwise confidence behind all great scorers. But it is possible, as Durant suggested, to overdose on pickup. Basketball is not simply performance art. True stars strike a balance between the park and the practice facility, creativity and control. Jennings hasn’t just spent the past four months throwing balls off people’s heads. He has honed his midrange jumper and added 10 pounds of muscle, which should allow him to absorb more contact and get to the line more often.
There’s so much to like here. Jeremy has written before that Jennings needs to bring back the joy in his game. The characteristic that makes Jennings worthwhile is his swagger. That’s something that was missing this year. The losing was probably the biggest factor in that loss, but Scott Skiles airtight control and structure naturally clashes with Jennings’s swagger.
The 10 pounds of muscle is also a welcome addition, but he’s still small. At the Drew-Goodman game, Jennings was bullied by the much larger John Wall. But he did look good from mid-range, so there is proof that his jumper has gotten better.
From his hotel in L.A., he looks out the window at Staples Center. “I shouldn’t be here,” he says. “I should be in Milwaukee.” With all due respect to the students of El Camino College, it’s time to get ready for Rose”