Derrick Rose vs. Brandon Jennings: Rivalry in the Making?

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By Paul M. Banks

Today’s NBA is treating us to the “Golden Age of Point Guards,” and last June brought us the “Point Guard Draft.” A special head-to-head rivalry at this position may be blossoming in the Central Division. Last year’s Rookie of the Year, the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose, went head-to-head last night with the Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings, the very early favorite to be this year’s top rookie. In an 83-81 loss, Jennings led everybody with 25 pts. Rose overcame a very difficult start to have a strong 4th quarter and finish with 16 points, 5 assists.

“I don’t know if he’s 100% right now because of his ankle, but he looked good to me tonight, especially in the second half when he led his team down and got a victory,” Jennings replied when I asked him about matching-up with Rose.brandonjennings

It wasn’t exactly the prettiest game. In fact much of it was so ugly it looked like a NBA version of last year’s 38-33 contest between Penn State and Illinois. But you can’t say anything bad about the Rose-Jennings match-up, which could be a great one-on-one for years to come. “I guess that’s stuff that you guys write about, you know. The next time it’s Mo Williams, and then after that it’s Baron Davis. Every starting point guard in this league is big time,” Joakim Noah said about it. After describing the game as “ugly as hell, both sides.”

Rose may not be in full bloom yet, but Jennings was impressed by the way he took charge for Chicago. “He’s more mature at a young age. For him to go out there and run this team, that’s big. For a guy that young, you’re usually in your fourth, fifth year to be able to do the stuff that he does, but he’s gifted,” he said.

And it’s acquiring/maintaining leadership which will be most important for Rose, and could make-or-break the season. “I’m way more comfortable this year, trying to be a leader for this team, just learning sets, everything feels more comfortable,” Rose said. That prompted me to ask him what the term “being a floor general” means to him?

“You’re the other coach, the voice on the floor, you’re the one making sure everyone is accountable for what they do on the court, so that no one will be slacking on offense or defense, making sure everything is going right and making sure you win the game,” he responded.

If all comes to fruition in Chicago, Rose will become the leader the Bulls need for many years to come. What about in Milwaukee? Michael Redd is injured yet again, and when healthy, it’s getting obvious that his best years are behind him. Jennings has only played 3 NBA games, but maybe he’ll fill that void one day.

“He is still learning how to play hard for long stretches. Yes, he’s in good shape but it’s learning to play in the NBA now. It’s very physical with the hits and picks out there. It was a good, positive game for him,” Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles said about him.

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