Everything was set up perfectly. This would be the first year since 2004 that the Milwaukee Bucks would have an All-Star. Derrick Rose has been out all season. The Celtics have struggled, the Sixers have struggled and the Cavs have been the Cavs. Opposing point guards are playing on bad teams and in tiebreaker scenarios, coaches always seem to favor players on good teams over players on bad teams come All-Star selection time.
Finally, the Bucks would have an All-Star again.
That was what a lot of people in Milwaukee were thinking Thursday morning.
Well you were all wrong. The Bucks still are without star. Their best candidate, Brandon Jennings, will be watching the league’s best players from home, just like the rest of us.
Specifically, he’ll probably be watching Jrue Holiday. Selected seven picks after Jennings in 2009, the Philadelphia guard has now leapt over his competitor into what most saw as the final guard spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
With that said, it’s only right to take a look at the play of these two young guards from throughout this season. I know, many Bucks fans are ranting about how Jennings was snubbed but was he really snubbed or was Jrue really just better and more deserving?
Wins aren’t everything.
There are many factors that go into the selection of an all-star. One of the big factors that come up in any sports is the “wins” argument. You have really good players, then you have All-Stars. There is a difference between the two.
All-Stars are great players that are capable of leading teams to wins while improving the state of a franchise. A great example of an All-Star would be a player like Kyrie Irving, who is quickly bringing the Cleveland Cavaliers back to respectability, even with the current level of talent around him. While the Cavs are still terrible, they at least can realistically sell the hope of Irving’s preternatural talent at the helm of that team.
In this case here, the Bucks (22-18) stand six games ahead of the Sixers (17-25). Yet, Holiday is selected over Jennings. For anyone feeling that Holiday shouldn’t have gotten in over Jennings may need to take a look at Holiday’s impressive season thus far. It’s possible the gap between Holiday and Jennings was great enough that wins weren’t really a factor, much in the way Irving was so good, it was impossible to exclude him.
Holiday has been a drastically improved player this year,. Currently, Holiday is statistically better in Jennings in scoring (slightly), rebounding and assists. (Holiday: 19 ppg, 9 apg, 4.2 rpg. Jennings: 18.7 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.5 apg.) It’s almost more impressive that Holiday’s been able to pass out nine assists every night with such a poor offensive team around him.
Head to Head.
Even without the record numbers, the Bucks are simply a better team than Philly. Currently 2-0 against their East-Coast counterparts, Milwaukee has shown no brotherly love to Philly. In their two head-to-head match-ups, Jennings torched the Holiday and the Sixers, as he should have, because they (PHI) aren’t that good. They have some moderately talented to slightly above average players like the Youngs, Nick and Thaddeus, Spencer Hawes and Jason Richardson, but they’re a mess of a construction and very poor defensively.
November 12th, Milwaukee took the first game in Philadelphia 105-96. Jennings took it to Philadelphia with an all-around performance, scoring 33 with eight assists and five boards. Holiday held his own that day, scoring 25 with six assists. Then in Milwaukee on January 22, the Bucks would win 110-102 behind Jennings’ 25 points and seven assists. Holiday struggled that night, shooting 3 of 12 from the field with nine points and eight turnovers.
Head-to head games don’t really mean anything in terms of the selection of All-Stars but Jennings has taken it to the All-Star Holiday both times this year that they faced-off. Just something to keep in mind.
Consistency is key… to an All-Star berth.
I mentioned quite a bit of scoring and individual performances up to this point. Of course basketball isn’t just about who scored what and against who. This applies even more when looking at All-Stars and who deserved to get in and who didn’t. The difference between these two is defense and consistent offensive output.
Right now, Jennings is third in the NBA in steals. Outside of that, Holiday has been the superior guard defensively. When Jennings is in at point guard, opponents, per 48 minutes, have an eFG% of 50 percent and an efficiency rating of 16.9 while averaging 21 points. When Holiday is in at point guard, opponents are a bit less productive per 48 minutes, with an eFG% of 46 percent, a 14.2 PER while averaging 19 points. And, as a reminder, Jennings plays on the superior defensive team as a whole.
One of the big differences I’ve noticed this year out about Jennings and Holiday was that Jennings tends to have those games where he would just lay an egg. You never know when they are coming, but they do. One night Jennings is super efficient offensively then the next time out, he is scoring two points. In the six games when Jennings scored ten points or fewer, the Bucks went 1-5. Holiday has scored ten or fewer only twice this season.
Jennings is an improved player this year, especially over the past 10 or so games, but he hasn’t been quite as consistent as Holiday offensively or defensively. Ultimately, it appears that was the difference.
I’m sure that many would say that Brandon Jennings got snubbed in this year’s All-Star voting. I would suggest that those people take a look at Holiday’s and even Irving’s numbers. Those are two guys that deserved the spots that they earned. Jennings has been great this year too, it’s just that he isn’t quite the total package to be an all-star point guard. Only time will tell if he ever will be.
What do you all think? Will Brandon Jennings ever make an All-Star roster?