In another era (say, 1996-2003), executives around the NBA might have considered Brandon Jennings a budding superstar in the mold of an Allen Iverson, Stephon Marbury or Steve Francis type. Not now. Today, Jennings is thought of as an inefficient chucker. A tweener. A shooting guard in a point guard’s body and a bad one at that. Jennings has never shot better than 42 percent from the floor (last season, he shot less than 40 percent, the NBA Mendoza line). He has never averaged more than seven assists in a year and while that may not be the greatest of indicators as to his playmaking prowess, his game doesn’t pass the eye test either. Just ask Larry Sanders.
The two things point guards like Iverson, Francis and Marbury had in common? They were all super talented and they were all perennial losers, save for a brief stretch of success for Iverson. These types of floor generals are no longer sought after and celebrated. NBA general managers looking to put together a contender are looking for quality passers that can get teammates involved in addition to creating offense for themselves when necessary. Jennings is certainly an unbelievable talent capable of scoring at will when he’s hot (for proof, look no further than his 55-point game against Golden State during his rookie season in 2009) and he was the most talented player on Milwaukee’s roster last season, but he just does not possess the mindset of an elite NBA point guard. The standards for the position have changed, and general manger John Hammond decided that he wasn’t worth the money he was asking ($12 million a year, are you freakin’ kidding?)
The Bucks have been stuck in no-man’s land since Jennings arrived in Milwaukee. Because he isn’t quite an elite point guard, Jennings hasn’t been able to make the Bucks a true contender. He is, however, talented enough to keep the Bucks from getting a top draft pick. The situation peaked this past season, as Milwaukee was just good enough to sneak into the postseason but not good enough to be competitive once they got there. The relationship had run its course and the Bucks were forced to move on.
Is Brandon Knight the answer? Maybe not, but he’ll have an opportunity to prove he’s more than just a 2013-14 stop gap. He has a few things going for him. For starters, blazing speed with a ball in his hand. The youth on the Bucks roster might make them well suited for a bit of a frenetic pace and Knight excels in transition. Knight struggled with turnovers in Detroit (205 in 75 games last season), but at age 21 on a new team with a new coach, this may be correctable. Most importantly for Knight? He’s not Brandon Jennings … and that’s a good thing.