Brandon Jennings and Joe Alexander: Summer Glimpse to Fall For-Real

Editor's Note: Before Brandon Jennings dropped an unworldly 55 POINTS against the Warriors last night, our buddy Rich was scouting him out in the summer leagues. Check out his always razor sharp thoughts and analysis below on young Bucks Jennings and the second year pro with Taiwanese roots.

-- Atma Brother #1


NOTE: This post also appears on my blog, Poor Man's Commish, here.

Since the Warriors are playing the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time tonight, I thought I'd share some of the scouting reports I had for Brandon Jennings and Joe Alexander from NBA Summer League '09.


Bucks vs. Timberwolves The first thing you'll notice about Jennings is that he's small and skinny by NBA standards. However, he also happens to be lightning quick, plus he's left-handed. It takes defenders awhile to adjust to left-handers, so it's no surprise to me that he's making as big a splash in the NBA the past few weeks as he is.

Let's say you're right-handed, as the majority of us are. If you are guarding a left-handed player, especially someone as explosive as Jennings, Jennings is probably going to attack you with a left-handed dribble drive. This means that you must plant off your weak leg, your left leg, to stay in front of him. Not as easy to do for us right-handers.

I don't think any Warrior is going to be able to contain Jennings tonight, especially since none of the Warrior guards are left-handed. He's just too super, super quick. In my live-tweet of his Summer League games, I noticed he had a scar running downward on one of calves. Probably because he's bionic!

During Summer League, Jennings had the uncanny ability to get the ball to a teammate right under the hoop. I don't know if it was because Summer League has poor interior defense, but the recipients of his passes got the ball right there, ready for a layup. No other point guard was quite doing that.

Jennings was also NBA-ready because he has a tear-drop floater. That is an absolute requirement in the Association. Maybe not a requirement in tonight's Warriors game though, since the Warriors are lacking interior size.

Incidentally, he also showed a fake behind-the-back layup play reminiscent of Rajon Rondo. Don't be surprised if Jennings has other moves in his bag of tricks.

On the flipside, he's probably not going to go right much, but I don't think that's anything glaring. During your rookie year, just play and get your feet wet. Next year, however, you better bring some more weapons to the table, after everyone figures you out.

His shot is like a sling shot. It's pretty ugly. But hey, sometimes it goes in and he did get hot during a stretch or two in the Summer League. If he's dribbling left past Warriors tonight, that'll certainly open up some jumpers for him and if he hits a couple, look out.

Finally, at least during Summer League, at times he acted like a prima donna, arguing calls left and right. However, I think the Milwaukee Bucks can live with that given the pluses he brings. I also think that right now, that's just a part of him that makes him better. I almost think that he wants someone to think he's a prima donna just so he can make an amazing play to get you back for thinking that. But then, that's still acting like a prima donna.

Also, be sure to check out his Under Armour shoes. Pretty unique that shoe company #3 chose him to be the poster boy. I think it was a smart move because it simultaneously aligned the upstart Under Armour with the legendary Sonny Vaccaro, while giving you an international presence (since Jennings spent last year in Europe), albeit a small one.

If Jennings gets selected as Rookie of the Year, it will be a coup for Under Armour. It could very well happen unless Blake Griffin comes back and just beasts the league like I know he can.


Players Arrive for NBA China Games 2008 It's no surprise to me that the Bucks did not renew Alexander's contract. And I'm not trying to jump on the Joe Alexander detractor bandwagon, but during my live-tweet, I specifically disagreed with ESPN Summer League scout David Thorpe on a number of fine points regarding Alexander's game (you can see a copy/paste of the live-tweet at the end of this post).

Alexander is truly an interesting player. At 6'10", a pretty muscular body, some nice offensive skills like a decent jump shot, a jab step from a triple-threat position, and a sometimes-okay power dribble to the hoop, you're thinking maybe he could be a Poor Man's Dirk Nowitzki less a few points and more a few rebounds, but slightly stronger, with the trade-off of being less mobile.

The only problem is, he's just not really quick or explosive with anything that he does. This is in direct disagreement with Thorpe who tweeted that he's "quick and explosive" or has the right tools, but just "hasn't figured it out yet". It's not that he hasn't figured it out. It's because it's all relative. In Summer League, you have ultra-slow no-names like David Doblas covering you. When you "explode" to the hoop, it may be equivalent to a slow move in the Association.

Against the Warriors, Alexander will probably be a non-factor against the uptempo style.

Thorpe is somewhat right that Alexander hasn't figured it out yet, though. Alexander could be alright if he would just pick a go-to move and stick with it. Instead, it seems like he's been working on too many things in the off-season, like pivoting, jab-stepping, driving, or pulling up and shooting, when he should just focus on one thing and do that thing well. For example, I would suggest the jumpshot. Just make a jumpshot from fifteen feet all the time. You're 6'10". It's not going to be blocked all that much. Make that range of a shot automatic and maybe you'll increase your value. Instead, he's incrementally gotten better in several facets of the game, which is bottom-line improvement, but doesn't get you anywhere in the market of NBA rotation players.

There were a few times when Jennings got the ball to Alexander (underneath the hoop, as I alluded to before in the Jennings write-up), and Alexander just couldn't get up vertically quick enough to finish the play. That, coupled with the rather slow jumpshot release, tells me he needs to hit the squats and lunges asap. If he doesn't, he'll be stuck in limbo all the time. However, his potential will always secure him at least a journeyman job in the NBA, which isn't so bad after all, financially. Basketball-wise though, he better turn it around soon or he'll be the jumpshooting power forward version of Adonal Foyle.


Holy mackerel Brandon Jennings is small by NBA standards. Ok kid, show me what you got!

Ooh this is gonna be good matchup DeMarcus Nelson vs Brandon Jennings.

Jennings tapped the ball away twice from DeMarcus in backcourt in opening possession. Nelson went strong left base and muscled a layup.

Ensuing inbound: DeMarcus full court presses Jennings. Tell me he wasn't motivated by this challenge.

Brandon Jennings has what appears to be a long scar down his right calf. Are his legs bionic? I wouldn't be surprised. He's lightning quick.

For some reason, Brandon Jennings keeps being able to pass to a receiver inside the paint. I can see where this is all going ("special"?).

Jennings just did a Rajon Rondo fake-the-behind-the-back-then-layup play.

Oh yeah, that's right, Brandon Jennings has a contract with Under Armour.

The Under Armours look alright.

I hinted at it before, the bottom line that makes Brandon Jennings special is that his passes are received within 2 feet of the bucket.

Another disruption by Jennings in the backcourt. Drew oohs and aahhs from crowd.

Agreed with Thorpe that Jennings needs more humility. The bucks need to bring in a pg mentor to put him in his place.

Jennings has now argued at least 3 or 4 calls. Play ball, young man.

Of course, you can't be surprised that a kid who goes to Europe to avoid NCAA-to-NBA needs improvement in the humility dept.

I disagree with Thorpe. In summer league, Joe Alexander is effective from the elbow. In the ASSOICATION, he's not and won't be...

...unless he quite simply works on quickness and explosiveness, esp off the line (like at the gun of a 100m dash).

Again, I disagree with Thorpe that Brandon needs to work on his right hand. He's like 19 or 20! Let him play. Righthand comes year 2 or 3.

The very fact that Brandon Jennings is left-handed gives him a one- season advantage in the NBA...

...because if you're part of the majority and righthanded, it's harder to push off your left foot when defending Brandon Jennings.

Brandon Jennings wudda jus been called for a sportsmanship warning in dreamleague: shouting out a fake countdown of shotclock on D!

Bucks-Raptors about to start. I saw both tms yesterday. Maybe i'll analyze Demar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings, maybe Joe Alexander.

Joe Alexander a little to slow to rise and throw down on a mini-dish fastbrk led by Brandon Jennings.

Brandon Jennings looks a little sluggish, coupla bad turnovers. Maybe didn't get a good nite's sleep. This is 1p tip ("early").

He seemed to have more pep in his step yesterday head-to-head vs DeMarcus Nelson. Maybe he's not motivated as much vs skinny Quincy Douby.

However Brandon Jennings' floater is working. His "sling" shot gets it done but highly unorthodox. Hard to find good shooting pg these days.

Swish trey by Jennings. He's on today.

And another all-net trey by Jennings, blowing away TrueHoops' theory that guys mathematically can't get hot.


Joe Alexander swish left baseline. Ni hao ma, Joe!

Joe Alexander good sequence on D, sidestepped a drive, yelled "low low low" to tell high screenee where he was.

Well, Joe Alexander (I think, maybe got switched on a screen) got embarrassed on an inbounds that I've drawn up countless tms in dreamleague

I meant Joe on D, of course.

Joe Alexander's at the 4 cuz he's too small to be a 5 (with no post moves), too slow to be a 3. But he's too slow to be a 4! Bust, sorry.

Hmmm Joe Alexander just had a pretty quick drive from the elbow, in which Taj Gibson hipchecked and fouled out, but I'd just guard Joe's RH.

Bucks-Raptors about to start. I saw both tms yesterday. Maybe i'll analyze Demar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings, maybe Joe Alexander.

Joe Alexander a little to slow to rise and throw down on a mini-dish fastbrk led by Brandon Jennings.

Joe Alexander's triple threat reminds me of that commercial w the Will Ferrell look-alike taking forever to make a move...

...i'll try to find it on YouTube but the point is, he's a tad too slow. Just a tad.

Sometimes in triple threat, slowness can negate the triple threat advantage. In those cases, make ur move b4 the D can set. Joe Alexander!

Just a big first step is all he needs to explode (Joe Alexander). Its not in his repertoire quite yet. Almost.

Joe Alexander ought to just take shots from a standstill. He just made a jumper, but he worked so hard to get it. Watch Hedo Turkgolu tapes.

Joe Alexander: 6'10". Hedo Turkoglu: 6'10". That's what I mean.

Joe Alexander's gotta run the floor w more prupose. He's just floating around mostly, till he gets ball.

He does have flashes tho. I think he's worth the investment. I just hope he keeps working on his explosion (and when to do it).

Joe Alexander cudnt rise fast enough after o-reb in paint, had to dribble back out. He needs to work on lunges.

And squats.

Joe Alexander's release tends to come off the right side of his head. That's problematic.

Joe Alexander just stutter stepped nicely to the hole, but it doesn't count in my book cuz it was against all-slow David Doblas.

Joe Alexander , why are you facing up a smaller defender? Post him up and back him in, do a turnaround! Aaargh. Recognize.

Joe Alexander turn his body clockwise when he shoots. He doesn't square up properly.

Heh. Thorpe just tweeted Joe Alexander is "quick and explosive". I would add "every now and then against slower players".

See? Brent Petway just swatted/embarrassed a predictable pinch post face-up by Joe Alexander. NOT quick/explosive.

This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!