Forgoing our usual preview, let’s rap about Brandon Jennings.
Milwaukee Bucks: 98.5 (21st)
Cleveland Cavaliers: 97.9 (22nd)
Milwaukee Bucks: 100.4 (18th)
Cleveland Cavaliers: 101.7 (20st)
Milwaukee Bucks: 97.3 (7th)
Cleveland Cavaliers: 95.1 (9th)
Milwaukee Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Shaun Livingston, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah a Moute, Drew Gooden
Cleveland Cavaliers: Ramon Sessions, Daniel Gibson, Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao
For the third straight game, Brandon Jennings will not be facing a larger athletic point guard, which typically benefits the speedy 22-year-old. However, the past week has been anything from typical for Jennings (consistently passive effort, an All-Star omission, and then this). Congratulations, Chris Broussard; the pot has been stirred.
Since talking to Broussard, Jennings has gone into personal damage control on his Twitter. It’s fine to be upset that Jennings chose this point in his contract, career, and season to talk about his possibilities outside of Milwaukee. Just don’t act surprised that an NBA player prefers to play on a winning team that may or may not reside in a large market. That’s ignorance towards basic human nature.
The Bucks are the lowest valued team in the NBA. They have a fan base beaten down by years of mismanagement and 20-30 win seasons. The team isn’t bad enough for a top 10 pick or good enough for a spot in the bottom 10 of the NBA draft. What would you do if you knew your employer was stuck in neutral for the next 2-3 years?
In hindsight, the Bucks’ playoff run in 2009-10 looks like it’s caused more long term damage than it’s cured. The Bucks, in semi-rebuilding mode, demolished their original expectations by winning 46 games. Hype sold at a price unseen in Milwaukee since the early 2000s.
In an effort to seize on success, the team tried to fit Corey Maggette and John Salmons-shaped pegs into consistent scoring option-shaped holes. Jennings took a clear step back and wasn’t ready to handle the role of a star point guard. We’ve all seen how reality has treated the Bucks since.
Now Jennings is being honest about his feelings on the team’s direction, as well as his best option for the future. Sticking with a team if they’re walking a path of mediocrity makes no sense, but neither does voicing your two-year plan through an email to a national reporter.
Jennings has thrived in the face of rejection and criticism, so it wouldn’t be crazy to see him return to form this weekend and beyond. But every bad game and cryptic tweet is going to re-hash these pre-mature issues. When that happens, no one wins.