…and here is a gift to my right-handed readers.

Brandon Jennings Has “Left” Ineffiency Behind Him


Brandon Jennings displays elegant form on his jump shot. (Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE)

In his first two seasons in the league, Brandon Jennings proved that he could score points in the NBA.  The knock, though, was always that Jennings took an inefficient route to find those points.

Pundits lampooned Jennings during this summer’s lockout when he said that he would shoot 40% for the year.  The fact that he said it in an ESPN fan chat while promoting a shoe-tackiness product probably didn’t help, either.

Steve (Orlando)

Go Bucks! How many hours a week do you, if at all, practice your 15 foot jump shot.  Thanks.

Brandon Jennings:

Actually since the lockout, I’ve been in Baltimore working for 3 months straight. I’m going to shoot over 40% this year. The whole 3 months of the lockout, I’ve been working out 5 days a week in Baltimore.

 

Brandon gave an earnest response to a backhanded question, but that number — “I’m going to shoot over 40% this year.” — stood out, a punchline waiting to be punched.

In the NBA, 40% was long the mark of an errant marksman.    It seemed like such a low goal for Brandon, even if he he hadn’t surpassed it in either of his first two seasons.

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I have a theory on left-handed players.  Because most of the world is right-handed — including basketball fans, writers, and broadcasters —  we view lefties through a distorted prism.  Think for a moment about your favorite lefty scorer, be it Jennings or Manu, Tiny Archibald, or someone else.

When a left-handed player makes a dashing foray to the hoop, it smolders with super sexiness due to the fact that most hoopsters look at the play and think it unreproducible. If duplicated by a righty, those right-handed brains would process the information differently and see it as an impressive, but perhaps replicable, shot.

Conversely, left-handed jump shooters do NOT get enough credit for the same reason.  Righty basketball junkies (myself included) look for that perfect form and release, and when it comes time to process that info for a lefty, the transposition preys upon our mental laziness and we just give up altogether on the analysis.

But form has never been a problem for Jennings.  His form is impeccable (see above, or if your brain is still stuck, see at right).  He routinely centers 25-footers so accurately that not only do they swish, but they barely touch net, either.

For Jennings, it has been more a matter of taking the right shots at the right time, in rhythm and with his feet set squarely underneath him.  And he has been doing it this season.  (Compare, for example, his numbers early in the shot clock:  last season and this season. The “heatchecks” are gone.)

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Yes, Jennings has hit 40% of his shots this season and then some.  For the record, he has made 44.5% of them.

The Bucks have played 20 games this season.  Brandon has started in all 20.  He has been the one constant in Milwaukee this season; Carlos Delfino has started 17 games and no other Buck more than 13.  He’s also playing a steep 36 minutes per night in a season stacked with games; he kept them treading water during a brutal January schedule skewed toward Western Conference road games.

For a player like Jennings, who takes a high percentage of shots that are three-pointers, it may be fairer to judge his shooting numbers using effective field goal percentage (eFG%).  The stat measures field goal percentage, while proportionally taking into account the benefit of a made 3-pointer relative to a 2-pointer.  Jennings has an eFG% of 0.510, up from 0.443 last season.

Perhaps the great mark of his efficiency lies in this one piece of data:  Jennings is one of two players (and the only guard) to collect 300 points, 100 assists, and keep an eFG% above 0.500 this season (data from Basketball Reference).

  • LeBron James: 583 points, 141 assists, eFG%  0.568
  • Brandon Jennings: 401 points, 109 assists, eFG%  0.510

That’s the whole list.  It may be time to scrap that “inefficient” label.  Brandon Jennings deserves to be an All-Star this year.

Tags: Brandon Jennings Left-Handed Milwaukee Bucks Popular