After a following up a career best 19 assist game Saturday with a 17 assist game Monday, Brandon Jennings heads into the Milwaukee Bucks’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday night as Milwaukee’s most favorite pass first point guard.
One week after he was Milwaukee’s least favorite shoot first point guard.
Which was one week after he was Milwaukee’s favorite scoring and swagging point guard.
It’s been a whirlwind of a three week stretch. But at least we can all agree, that now, he’s finally realizing what it takes for him to be a great point guard. Listen to what his coach said about him:
“He’s made a lot of good plays, a lot of smart plays. Guys are open and he’s finding them on time. The ball has moved around the perimeter. He’s catching it and moving it on to people. That’s a big step for Brandon.”
And his backcourt mate:
“If he’s not having a good game on the offensive end, he’s finding his teammates,” Ellis said. “With this team he doesn’t have to do too much. We’ve got a lot of veteran guys here that understand the game and can guide him as well as he’s trying to guide us.”
What’s that? Those quotes were from November? After he won player of the week and averaged 13 assists per game? I thought he had taken a big step and he’d learned that he doesn’t have to do too much back then? What happened between that first week of November and last week that he only just started passing again now?
Oh, right. He just reverted back to the player that he had been for his entire career up until that point. Gotcha.
I recognize I’m that guy who is ruining everyone’s fun once again, but man, the highs and the lows with people who follow this team are crazy. Let’s all just take some time and let this whole thing develop for a minute before we start proclaiming Brandon Jennings a new player. Here’s what he had to say after Monday’s 17 assist game:
“Scoring is easy,” Jennings said. “That’s something I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. I always could pass; I always could get my teammates involved and that’s something I’m doing now.”
That’s a great attitude. I’m glad Jennings is telling us that he’s now getting his teammates involved. Of course, this is a guy who, 10 games ago, said if he needed to take 30 shots for the Bucks to win, he’d do it. I’m starting to think athletes don’t quite value what they’re saying after games as much as we do.
I’m not saying that circumstances haven’t changed. They’ve changed dramatically. There’s a new guy pushing for minutes in the Bucks back court, and he isn’t just any new guy. JJ Redick is a coach’s dream. A guy who can very steadily handle big minutes at the shooting guard spot and work with a point guard version of Monta Ellis seamlessly.
Ellis’ ability to slide over to the point guard spot for any given number of minutes any night makes things even more interesting. Suddenly, Jennings is getting a push like he’s never received since he’s been in the league. His minutes are in jeopardy if he doesn’t perform.
So there’s a variety of reasons to think that this sudden transformation of Brandon Jennings from shoot first pariah to ball moving savior may stick.
But here’s the issue with putting stock into what a guy says after a game in the locker room. He’s being led down a certain route. After Jennings gets 19 or 18 assists, reporters come into the locker room and ask him what’s changed and what’s causing all of the assists. That’s immediately assuming something has changed. And maybe something has. But it’s possible that these are freak occurrences too. Most data would suggest they are actually, but everyone just ignores that because there’s a new narrative to push.
Jennings has been great over the past two games. So has Ellis and largely Redick too. And the Bucks have won four in a row. But have some patience and let these guys prove that this thing is for real. That’s all I ask. We’ve been down this road many times before, even earlier this season, and we haven’t seen much stick.
For now, there’s reason to be optimistic, about Jennings, about Ellis, about Redick, about the team.
Hopefully we’ll be able to say that in a week.