Let’s get this out of the way. Brandon Jennings appears to have very good playmaking skills, is very quick, and an excellent athlete. He also appears to be an inefficient scorer, who can’t hit a three to save his life, with rebounding and defense issues (though there have been conflicting reports on his defense). We know this; we’ve heard it before, many times. Mcwalter44 made any sort of real scouting report here almost completely unnecessary. If you are interested in a more standard scouting report on Jennings, previous fanposts should be able to help you out. From here on out, we are leaving any semblance of a traditional scouting report behind and moving into a “cap’n hack feels ways about stuff, particularly Brandon Jennings” extravaganza. You’ve been warned.
Let me start with you, Chad Ford. I’m not pleased with you. In the Lottery Mock Drafts you could find on espn.com, you told me that Brandon Jennings was a point guard “in the Gilbert Arenas mold”. He was listed as the Warriors’ pick if we had the 7 and I certainly didn’t mind the idea of bringing back Gil, but with working legs and a smaller paycheck (but probably not the wackiness and blogging skills). Then I looked at some numbers, and it turns out, Jennings doesn’t make threes. Ever. His percentage from deep is an atrocious 20.7% in the Italian League and a slightly less miserable 26.8% in the Euroleague (with a smaller sample size). While he did shoot 45.7% and 47.9% from inside the arc in the two leagues, respectively, and that’s not particularly impressive. Check the video (also from mcwalter44’s fanpost), his jumper is UGLY; someone needs to work on his mechanics starting yesterday. In spite of its ugliness, it’s less terrifying than this: I want you to imagine Gilbert Arenas with no range at all. You’re concerned, aren’t you? Well, so was I. Gil is not exactly a pure point guard, and doesn’t make his money by getting other guys involved. So when I hear about someone “in the Gilbert Arenas” mold, but can’t hit a three, I get upset. I do not want to draft that person. Thankfully, that comparison was a typical piece of espn draft nonsense.
The guy can pass, better than Gil ever could. Don’t worry about that; he’ll find the open man when he gets to the NBA. He finds the open man to the tune of about 5 assists per 36 in Euroleauge, which might not sound impressive, but they are stingy about handing out dimes on the stat sheet in Europe. Not to mention that most of the offenses do not lend themselves to racking up assists as a point guard, but even there, he makes passes with style. We’ve seen the videos of Jennings’ ridiculous passes and he’ll probably try a couple of those unnecessarily flashy passes until Nellie or whoever is coaching him sits him down for throwing the ball out of bounds on a sweet looking behind the back. That possible scenario aside, if he keeps the Bassy Telfair in him from ruining his career, he’s going to be able to make the right play more often the not. His playmaking instincts are undeniable. If he does absolutely nothing but run up and down the court and pass the ball the way he’s capable of, he’s got a role on this team. And if no one guards him because of that abysmal range, he’s quick enough to get to the cup with no real problems. That is encouraging.
Less encouraging is all the talk that he’ll never be able to play alongside Monta. Maybe that’s true, but in all honesty, it’s not particularly important. He’s not ready to play alongside anyone right now. He’s a couple years away from being an impact player. In all likelihood, even though he’s not going to walk into the first game of the season as our starting point guard and remind us of Chris Paul, he’s probably going to be an improvement over CJ. Here’s the list of things that I’m fairly certain that CJ will be better than Brandon Jennings at if we bring Jennings over: shooting. That’s the list. So, if we think he’s likely to work on his jumper and play respectable defense to the point where he could start in the NBA in a couple years, then he’s worth considering at the 7. Let say that the 2011 season is about to start and our best guards are Monta, Jennings, and someone we pick up in the draft or via free agency (I’d say Jack, but by 2011, I don’t expect him to be the same player). If Jennings looks to be a top notch pure point guard, then we can trade Monta if they can’t play together. If Jennings looks like an average NBA starter, then we trade him for whatever pressing need we may have. If we add a 2 guard with game, maybe we bring Monta off the bench and let him be our instant offense 6th man. None of these things are disasters. What we need to worry about is whether or not Brandon Jennings can play basketball, not whether or not he fits next to Monta.
That said, I’m very worried about whether or not Jennings can play basketball. A flashy dominant high school point guard with no range sounds a lot like Sebastian Telfair. I invoked that train wreck earlier for a reason. I can’t shake that possibility. I’m not sure how likely it is, but that mental image won’t go away for me. I’d even guess that Jennings will come in and be better than Telfair immediately, so the comparison is probably unfair, but there it is, the unfair comparison that won’t go away. God forbid he comes here and thinks “Well, the Warriors don’t care about defense or rebounding, and they love iso plays; I’m going to show off my skills in the bay!” But he’s improved in Europe; he seems more mature, more collected, more self aware and more able to realize what it takes to be a good basketball player (the interviews quoted and linked to by McWalter44 seem to show this). Maybe he’ll put it all together, and he’s gotta be better than CJ, right? Agh, I want some video! I want to see full games! I want to know what to think of this kid! Right now, I feel ways about him, but I have no idea which ways those are. Sitting at “he might be the BPA” when we draft and Jennings is available is not a good place for me to be. For now, I’m stuck with a thousand different conflicting opinions, concerns and hopes. I hate the pick now as much as ever, but not because I think Brandon Jennings is going to be a surefire bust, but because I have no idea what to think of him. That sort of nausea is not what I want out of my draft pick. At least I know what I’m getting with Stephen Curry.
Links to previous fanposts: http://www.goldenstateofmind.com/2009/5/20/881215/jennings-7-yes-according-to-chad