(Today, Eric Buenning tells us why a contract extension for Brandon Jennings is just what the Bucks need. Tomorrow, I ruin everything. – JS)
I may not be in the majority here, but I feel strongly that the Bucks should try to keep Brandon Jennings.
Jennings and the Bucks should start talking contract extension soon and if the Bucks are wise, they’ll make the talks productive.
My belief in Jennings is not only because of his steadily improving numbers (which I’ll get to), but because of the thorough impact he could have on the franchise. I will concede that if some team proposes a loaded trade or is willing to throw way too much money at him, then he is more than welcome to go to greener pastures. However, if the terms of Jennings’ next contract is even somewhat within reason, I say go for it.
The Bucks should keep Jennings..
— because he hasn’t tapped into his full potential yet. Now, that’s my personal opinion, but I’ve got some numbers to back me up. Time to bust out some stats (via basketball-reference.com). Jennings had career highs this (lockout-shortened) season in field-goal percentage, points per game, steals per game, and PER (player efficiency rating).
He also had career highs in Effective Field-Goal Percentage and True Shooting percentage, the latter being above 50 percent. He also had a .114 Win Shares/48 minutes, his best of his career. The league average of WS contributed per 48 minutes is .100. While those numbers aren’t exactly gangbusters, they show that the young Jennings is starting to learn the game better and that he continues to improve in multiple facets of his game.
But the numbers (though they are a good sign) aren’t why I feel the Bucks should keep Jennings.
The Bucks should keep Jennings..
–because he brings excitement to an otherwise insipid roster. You may ask, “But what about Monta Ellis?” Ellis is exciting, but he never comes to Milwaukee unless Jennings is there to put him with. Also, if you’ve watched any of the pre-draft or post-draft interviews with Bucks’ draft considerations, they all talked about how fun and exciting it would be to run with [Ellis and] Jennings. Without him, what do players have to look forward to when considering coming to Milwaukee? Jeremy Schmidt? Actually, no, that’s a big draw for this city, I think.
Also, Jennings’ play in his brief career has given Bucks fans a few classic moments. If you followed the team since Jennings arrived, you should remember where you were when the Young Buck dropped 55 points against the Golden State Warriors, not even ten games into his career. While that night was memorable because of the scoring feat, there were a few specific things I’ll never forget. They were:
–Golden State’s refusal to play ANY DEFENSE, WHATSOEVER.
–The awkward interaction between mother and son (3-ish minute mark in the video)
–John McGlocklin losing his mind
–The feeling I and many other fans may have had that night. It was the feeling that this kid was capable of doing something big, and that we were looking at the future of the Bucks
Then there was a game this year against the Miami Heat where Jennings delivered 7 three-pointers, the last one culminating in him hopping back down the court with this look about him that said “I’m not backing down to anyone, ever.” Now, couldn’t the Bucks’ franchise feed off of an attitude like that for the next decade? Why would you want to let that go?
The Bucks should keep Brandon Jennings..
–because he is a great human being. Yeah, that sounds cliché and what have you, but why not take that in to account when deciding how to direct your franchise’s future? Jennings has been active in the Milwaukee community, whether it be hosting basketball camps, attending Summerfest sessions (and dancing with old men), or helping out with Habitat for Humanity or serving food to the less fortunate.
You can argue that a lot of NBA professionals do the same things, and I can’t dispute that. But it feels that Jennings is more accessible than those other stars. He doesn’t just do the charity appearances. He hosts parties or he is out on the town, sometimes even bringing fans with. He uses the star status he has achieved to bring the community together. He is a B-List version of Kevin Durant, and that is high praise that you want to have mentioned when talking about the future of your team.
Like I said, this could all change if some team out there decides to go crazy in free agency in order to lure this kid in. If I’m the Bucks, I don’t wait to give that team that option. I lock Jennings down as soon as possible, for as much as it takes within the limits of plausibility. It’s incredibly rare to have a potential star on your team, let alone a young one who is showing that he is only going to achieve greater things, both on and off the court.
This next month or so should be an interesting one for the Bucks, but I believe that if they want to become consistently relevant and title threats down the road, they need to begin by keeping the Young Buck in Milwaukee.