Yesterday Draft Express ran an extensive article on Brandon Jennings. Including their own evaluation of him from a scrimmage against the Italian National team.
Pitted against one of the best defenders in Europe in American guard Ibi Jaaber, Jennings gets to wherever he wants on the court, showing blazing speed, outstanding ball-handling skills, incredible creativity and a real flair for making flashy plays. He makes spot-up and pull-up jumpers from inside and outside the arc, runs the pick and roll to perfection while flicking gorgeous underhanded bounce-passes right on the money to a flashing Andre Hutson, and even tries to go up and challenge former NBA center Primoz Brezec in transition with an emphatic dunk.
Granted we all know that this is what Jennings brings to the table. The Baron Davis type flare in moving the ball around. However, what everyone back here in the States wants to know is Jennings still the immature baller that couldn't manage to get himself in Arizona or had grown from his experience playing limited minutes professionally in Europe?
One year ago we got the chance to see Jennings practice, scrimmage and play in the week leading up to the Jordan Brand Classic in New York. A few months prior to that, we saw him lead his Oak Hill squad to victory in the Hoophall Classic in Springfield. Comparing the Brandon Jennings we saw then with what we’re seeing now might make you rub your eyes in disbelief.
Gone is the brash, arrogant teenager with the Kid ’N Play style flat-top who dominated the ball in absolute fashion and looked first and foremost for his own shot, his stats and the ultimate high-light play. In his place is a much more mature, respectful young man, always cheering on his teammates, showing great body language and painstakingly trying to do what his coaches ask of him, almost to a fault at times.
All the bumping and hand-checking he’s been learning to deal with all season long from European defenders might make life a lot easier for him once he reaches the NBA, where everything is much more open thanks to the defensive 3-second rules and much tighter officiating on the perimeter.
What separates him from the Aaron Brooks’ and Monta Ellis’ of the world, though are his playmaking instincts. His talent and creativity with the ball were always evident in the games, scrimmages and practices we saw, as he sees the floor and is capable of making incredibly difficult passes look easy, in a way that no point guard in this draft not named Ricky Rubio can. Over the course of our three days in Rome, we saw Jennings make a handful of mind-blowing plays that hint of an incredible future that is in store, particularly in transition or running the pick and roll.
All of this combined with the fact that Jennings has worked relentlessly on improving his shooting mechanics leads me to believe that not only was his decission to go to Europe right, but may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to him. At University of Arizona he would have been drooled over with all the Dick Vitale like Diaper-Dandy like praise that befalls nearly all the top freshman each season. With all the turmoil over Olsen's not coaching, return to coaching, then sudden quitting the squad may have just cemented the fact that he was a one a done player that had no need improve his game.
Where as in Europe Jennigns had a lot to prove. Furthermore, he didn't have situation were everything was handed to him on a silver platter. If these reports are correct, then it appears that his laboring for PT has really gotten him to focus in on his game. Just think back to early last season with Anthony Randolph. Reports were flying that he wasn't working that hard in practice and that he was whining about his minutes. As soon as he fired his agent it appeared that a light went off in him. That he started working harding in practice, even putting in extra time before and after practices. Those efforts and the mounting Warrrior injuries lead him getting those desired minutes and this time he took advantage of them. I foresee Jennings time in Europe having a similar effect on him and that we're going to see hin become a tremdous player in the NBA.
Draft Express interviews with Jennings: