When Kobe Bryant scored his 30,000th point a couple weeks ago, it was big news for a day, maybe two. As quickly as it happened (with more than one minute left in the first half) against the New Orleans Hornets that evening, it left the headlines at an equally fast pace. Such is the nature of professional basketball news.
The day following Bryant becoming the NBA’s fifth player to reach that milestone, Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus revealed a list of players who could potentially record 30,000 career points — and, surprisingly, Brandon Jennings made an appearance.
How, you ask, when Jennings has scored fewer than 4,000 points and is one-quarter of the way through his fourth season? Pelton created his list of 17 names based on a technique called “favorite toy,” which takes into account a player’s projected number of seasons left in the league and the amount of a particular statistic remaining to reach the goal.
At 23 years old, Jennings is the youngest player on the list and has an assumed 10.1 seasons left. And while Jennings’ affinity for scoring rather than dishing assists helped garner him inclusion on this list and gives him an upperhand over an alternate-universe, pass-first Jennings, he has to ramp up his production to even hope of entering the 30,000-point echelon.
For his career, Compton’s native son is averaging 17.8 points per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference, and has played increased minutes per-game in each of his four seasons, eclipsing the 36-minute mark by hitting a 37.2 minute average this season. His 2012-13 scoring reflects this, as Jennings is averaging 18 points per game after Wednesday’s 24-point effort against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Considering the 26,020 points he has ahead of him, Jennings will need to log 36 minutes in 1,461.8 more games to reach the goal in question. That’s nearly 18 seasons (17.83, to be more exact) through which Jennings needs to sustain his career mark, avoid injuries, and hope the NBA and NBAPA play nice enough to make sure those are all 82-game seasons.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s totally realistic to imagine a 41-year-old Jennings — with a high-top, if we’re lucky — sinking a floater reminiscent of Kobe’s to put him over this scoring threshold. It’s more realistic than picturing him draining a trey in that moment, at least.
The most logical way for Jennings to strengthen his chance of being a 30,000-point scorer is to improve his three-point shooting. The lack of a consistent long range shot has earned Jennings a .345 career three-point shooting percentage. Let’s say 40 percent from deep is average. If that was Jennings’ rate of accomplishment on the 1,211 triples he’s attempted in the NBA, that’s an extra 66 career points, meaning he would already be on his way to 4,100 rather than 4,000 points.
Another angle Jennings could take to boost his nightly scoring is to get to the free throw line more often, and start converting more than 80.8 percent of his charity stripe opportunities, though he has stayed true to that line every season after sinking 81.7 percent in his rookie year.
Easy shots and long shots. That’s what much, but not all, of this boils down to. The possibility of Jennings joining such an exclusive club doesn’t fall into the former category, however, so there is really only one other way to brand Jennings’ push for 30,000. It won’t be simple.