Maybe Brandon Jennings is a great passer now … but let’s wait and see

Jennings sent the Bucks to overtime against the Jazz on Monday with this shot. Also, PASSING! (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

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.

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  1. Charlie_Buckets

    This Clippers game tonight could be a swift crash back down to earth. I’m not looking forward to Ersan guarding any of their bigs considering how he got manhandled down low against Utah. We’re gonna need big games from our all-D, no-O guys (Luc and Ekbe) Perhaps we see some twin tower action with Sam and Larry out there? It may clog the offensive side of the court, but may be our only chance to stop their devastating rim-attacking offense

    • I agree. The Clippers have historically had no trouble handling the bucks. I don’t think we have the guns to outshoot them , so like a previous post mentioned, we have to play VERY solid all around ball, no superstars to bail us out.

    • I think with how athletic Blake and Deandre are, a combo of Larry and Ekpe might be interesting. A little more foot speed than Sammy.Offense all coming from the perimeter. Just a thought

  2. Should be a good test for pass-first bj. Considering there are 82 games it’s hard to say a game is big, but I feel like this game is big for the psyche of the team. I hope we can play them tough.

  3. I don’t think he has changed, but I think he is adapting to his situation.. he wants to stay on the court, doesn’t mean he isn’t gonna try and light up the scoreboard.. like I have said earlier he isn’t doing this for the Bucks though, he is auditioning for other teams.. that’s the worst part.. what happens if we give him that extension and he doesn’t have competition next year for minutes? same old same old?

  4. When you take away the chatter of agents, entourages, media and marketing execs, nothing enhances your credentials as an NBA player quite the way winning does. I’m hopeful that an extended run of success for this team will give these very young players some valuable insight into how their commitment to doing the things that give the TEAM it’s best chance of winning each night is the single best thing they can do for themselves professionally. It will definitely take more than 4 games to do that, however…

    This is an important stretch here, these next 6 games. I know they’ll likely lose a few, but I think it will be a great sign if they can continue to keep games close and put in a good effort every night. That said, they need to win the games they should win… they HAVE to take care of Sac, Wash & Dal…any win they might steal against the other 3 would be a huge bonus.

  5. I dont know why everyone is so afraid of the 8th seed. This team ain’t scared of the Heat. Them nigga’s cheatin’. Harlem Shakin’ thugz is all they is. #gobucks #thefuture

  6. I think Jeremy is right-on in urging cautious optimism.

    The thing about Brandon is that he is still so young
    that it’s hard to know how much potential he has and
    what kind of attitude going forward. What’s more, we probably
    won’t have definitive answers at the end of this season,
    so it’s going to be hard to know what to do with this
    guy, whether to make big commitment to him.

    Maybe these last 20 or so games will tell us something.
    Along the way, I’ll be rooting for him to be pass-first Brandon
    and team-first Brandon — for his good and the good of the team.
    I like the guy and wish him the best, but I’m guarding my enthusiasm.
    I guess even if he wants to go elsewhere after the season, that’s
    okay, as long as he gives the Bucks honest effort in the meantime.

    Brandon might be the poster-guy for a team this is very difficult
    to figure out.

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