Brandon Jennings vs. Tyreke Evans: A referendum for Rookie of the Year

Evans

By Jake McCormick

The 2009-10 Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings were expected to spend more time in the basement of their respective conferences than Jerry Stiller in the King of Queens. But thanks to the accelerated development of point guards Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings and some added help from previously unknown Euros (Omir Casspi, Ersan Ilyasova), both teams have been a pleasant surprise to their fan bases. [Read more…]

NBA Rookie of the Year Race 12-18

tyrekevsbulls

By: David Kay

Welcome to a weekly feature here at the The Sports Bank where we break down the top rookies in the NBA and who has the edge to win the Rookie of the Year Award.  With the top overall pick Blake Griffin still sidelined, a pair of rookie point guards are battling it out for the top spot.  Check out the updated Rookie of the Year Race.
[Read more…]

2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Race

brandon-jennings-bucks

By: David Kay

With the first overall pick, Blake Griffin still sidelined, the battle for the NBA Rookie of the Year award is becoming a two horse race.  Every week, David Kay breaks down the top rookies in the association.  Check out his latest rankings.
[Read more…]

LeBron, Shaq reflect on Milwaukee Bucks’ rookie Brandon Jennings

LeBron

By Jake McCormick

Four NBA Championships, 3 NBA Finals MVPs, two league MVPs, two Rookie of the Years, 20 All Star appearances, three scoring championships, and two gold medals speak volumes about the combined accomplishments of Cleveland Cavalier teammates LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal. So when they talk about a player, in this case Milwaukee Bucks’ rookie Brandon Jennings, people listen.

“Jennings is a very talented player; he’s very quick, very fast,” James said after the Cavs’ 101-86 win against the Bucks. “He’s very confident in his abilities.”

BJAfter posting 21.8 points, 5.7 assists, 4 rebounds, and a 50% three point percentage, Jennings was named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month for October/November. Even with only 19 games under his belt, the Milwaukee offense runs through the 6’1” 169 lb 20-year-old point guard. That’s remarkable enough itself, but early praise from Shaq and LeBron speak candidly about Jennings’ expectations and potential.

More than a few reporters, columnists and panelists on the various “sports shouting” shows have compared Jennings to Allen Iverson, minus the occasional controversy. But opposing players are typically better judges of talent and ability than the people that are paid to watch and discuss the game.

An athlete doesn’t risk losing a good interview subject when speaking about a player’s talent level and potential, and their opinions are always taken as far as their resume. Striking Kazaam from the record, Shaquille O’Neal has one of the most respected opinions and playing careers in the NBA. And he had nothing but praise for the budding career of Brandon Jennings.

“He reminds me of an Allen Iverson/Nick Van Exel combination,” O’Neal said. “He’s a hell of a player, everyone knows his story and I wish him well.”

James said Jennings has confidence that typically comes with experience. That sets the bar pretty high for the rookie, who has already been touted as a type of savior for a franchise that desperately needs a face and personality.

“(Confidence) is something you gain over the years in NBA, but he has it right now,” James said. “He knows how to play the game of basketball. They’ve given him that torch to carry the team.”

ShaqO’Neal added that Bucks’ coach Scott Skiles and his background as a point guard have helped Jennings grow quicker than an Obama chia pet profit margin. Pushing the comparisons a bit farther, Shaq wasn’t shy about Jennings’ chances of joining the elite class of superstars led by Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron.

“I see Kobe, D-Wade, and LeBron but you just have to be consistent,” O’Neal said. “The good thing about the names just mentioned is they have been consistent since day one.”

On the court, James let Jennings know that he still has much to learn when James’ blocked his shot after Jennings’ drew some preliminary “ooh”s with a quick behind the back crossover driving to the basket.

“I basically said that I like to pass the baton down or give advice,” James said. “It looks like he’s handling it the right way, but at the same time if he ever gets into a situation where he needs help he can give me a call.”

When the face of the NBA extends an olive branch and gives you his business card after 19 games in the league, you’re doing something right.

“It’s very tough to be a superstar in this league,” he said. “But right now he’s doing an unbelievable job for this team, this franchise.”

2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Race

wes_matthews

By: David Kay

Welcome to a weekly feature here at the The Sports Bank where we break down the top rookies in the NBA and who has the edge to win the Rookie of the Year Award.  Check back every Thursday for an update.

The 2009 NBA Draft was dubbed “The Point Guard Draft” and now we are seeing why.  The top five players on my Rookie of the Year Race run the point.  Here are the updated Rookie of the Year Race Standings:

1. Brandon Jennings, Bucks (Last Week Ranking: #1)

’09-’10: 21.5 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.9 rpg, 1.2 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg

Jennings has really struggled shooting the ball during the past week (32% in his last four games.)  He is still doing a nice job of finding teammates even though the Bucks have cooled off, losing five of their last six.

2. Tyreke Evans, Kings (LWR: #2)
’09-’10: 19.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 4.8 apg, 1.25 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 17.0 ppg, 5 rpg, 6 apg, 2 spg

Evans continues to produce as I expected him to in his rookie season.  With injuries to Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia, Evans has been one of the main reasons Sacramento is off to a surprising 9-8 start.

3. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves (LWR: #4)
’09-’10: 14.3 ppg, 3.8 apg, 2.6 rpg, 1.1 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 15 ppg, 7 apg, 1.75 spg

Flynn is still holding onto the starting job in Minnesota despite Ramon Sessions outplaying him on some nights.  He cut back on his turnovers during the past week which has been a major issue in the first part of his rookie season.

4. Stephen Curry, Warriors (LWR: #3)
’09-’10: 10.2 ppg, 5.4 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.5 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 4 apg, 3 rpg

Curry has yet to really light up the scoreboard like he did so often at Davidson, yet he continues to see heavy minutes for Golden State.  I can’t help but wonder how better he would be suited playing somewhere else and not in the same backcourt as Monta Ellis.

Check out then entire Rookie of the Year Rankings.

2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Race

tyreke kings

By: David Kay

1. Brandon Jennings, Bucks (Last Week Ranking: #1)
’09-’10: 23.4 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg

He is single-handedly reviving the Bucks franchise as they are out to an 8-5 start.  Jennings scoring has dipped since Michael Redd returned from injury, but more so because Jennings has shot 10-36 in those two games.

2. Tyreke Evans, Kings (LWR: #2)
’09-’10: 19.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.5 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 17.1 ppg, 5 rpg, 6 apg, 2 spg

All of my Tyreke Evans gushing is definitely paying off.  Evans has shown his ability to attack the basket and has an improving mid-range game.  He is turning the ball over at a high rate, but that is to be expected playing on a terrible Kings team.  I still no have question that he will be something special in the NBA.

3. Stephen Curry, Warriors (LWR: #5)
’09-’10: 10.2 ppg, 5.2 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.4 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 4 apg, 3 rpg

The trade of Stephen Jackson for Raja Bell, who is injured, has opened up the opportunity for Curry to see consistent playing time.  He has shot the ball well from deep and proved more than capable of running the point in the NBA.

4. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves (LWR: #4)
’09-’10: 14.1 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1.1 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 15 ppg, 7 apg, 1.75 spg

Through 15 games, Flynn has five more turnovers than assists which is a bit startling.  He has not shot the ball exceptionally well as the T-Wolves have now lost 14 straight since winning their season opener against New Jersey.

5. Terrence Williams, Nets (LWR: #3)
’09-’10: 10.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, .6 spg
’09-’10 Prediction: 7 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2 spg

With Devin Harris and Courtney Lee back in the line-up, Williams’ playing time will likely take a hit.  Still, he has done a lot of nice things for the winless Nets though his numbers should drop due to his decreased playing time.

Check out the rest of the Rookie of the Year Rankings.

2010 NBA Rookie of the Race

brandon-jennings-rookie

By: David Kay

Before the season even began, a buddy of mine kept claiming Brandon Jennings was the next Allen Iverson.  I refused to buy into his hype.  Then Jennings had to go off for 55 points on Saturday night as he is pretty much saving basketball in the city of Milwaukee.  Now, I am buying into the hype and so should you.  Check out the updated rankings for The Sports Bank’s NBA Rookie of the Year Race.

1. Brandon Jennings, Bucks (Last Week Ranking: #1)
’09-’10: 24.8 ppg, 5.8 apg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg
His 55-point performance Saturday night was ridiculous, even if it did come against the defensively handicapped Warriors.  29 third quarter points after scoring zero in the first 12 minutes of the game?  Unbelieveble.  Jennings is not only the hands down rookie of the year pick, but the argument could be made that he is a top five candidate for league MVP.

2. Tyreke Evans, Kings (LWR: #2)
’09-’10: 16.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.5 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 17.1 ppg, 5 rpg, 6 apg, 2 spg
Since Kevin Martin went down, Evans has been the top scorer for the Kings and is still a consistent performer in all areas of the game.  He has shot the ball better during the past week despite the added responsibility.

3. Terrence Williams, Nets (LWR: #4)
’09-’10: 10.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.1 apg, .7 spg
’09-’10 Prediction: 7 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2 spg
T-Will is one of the few bright spots for the 0-12 Nets.  He recorded a career-high 20 points Wednesday night off the bench and will still see quality playing time despite the return of CD-R.

4. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves (LWR: #3)
’09-’10: 13.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.1 rpg, 1.3 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 15 ppg, 7 apg, 1.75 spg
Flynn is averaging one more turnover per game than assist per game. He is starting for the T-Wolves who have lost 11 straight since beating the 0-12 Nets in the season opener.  The former Syracuse star is doing nothing spectacular.

Check out the entire Rookie of the Year Rankings.

NBA East Power Rankings 11-19

Warriors Bucks Basketball

By Paul M. Banks

The Milwaukee Bucks and their hot start led by uber-rookie Brandon Jennings are the talk of the NBA. So how far did they move up in this week’s power rankings?

1. Boston Celtics (9-3)
Kevin Garnett is their centerpiece, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce the main sidekicks. But if you really want to see the barometer of the Celtics, look at Rajon Rondo. His statistical measures of productivity correlate best with their record.

2. Atlanta Hawks (10-2)
They are for real, even though they don’t get the national publicity the deserve. Hawks basketball would be a bigger brand if they didn’t seemingly change their logo and team colors every three seasons. In Joe Johnson they have a closer, and in Josh Smith they have a go-to defender.

3. Orlando Magic (9-3)
I guess we’ll really see what they’re made off now that Jameer Nelson is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.

4. Miami Heat (7-4)
I couldn’t agree more with this insight from a Heat blog entitled “Hot Hot Hoops” “Unfortunately, the guy who gets lost in the Wade fray is Udonis Haslem, who has absolutely taken to his sixth-man role.” Haslem is an underrated gem.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers (8-4)
The Suns’ Jason Richardson has taken up Lebron’s cause to retire #23 for every NBA team. I don’t think it will ever happen, but I do agree with the idea. Shaq will miss a few games with a shoulder injury…well, you knew when they made this deal he was inevitably going to miss some time.

white_tailed_deer_buck

6. Milwaukee Bucks (6-3)

Despite the hot start, they are still the Bucks right? Maybe not now that they have that Brandon Jennings guy. You might have heard a thing or two, or twelve about his 55 point game last Saturday. And don’t look now, but Andrew Bogut has 5 double doubles already.

7. Chicago Bulls (6-4)
Derrick Rose is clearly not 100%. His injury is worse than the league is leading on. Joakim Noah is indeed making “the leap” this year he’s been a double-double machine so far. And it’s believably hilarious that he didn’t know why the current Bulls road trip is called “the circus trip”

8. Philadelphia 76ers (5-6)
How awesome is it that they went back to their retro 80s logo? How mediocre and inconsistent will they be this season due to their up-and-down guard play? Answer to both: VERY

Sixers_old_new_logo

9. Detroit Pistons (5-7)
I’ll admit it: the signings of Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva are working well for the Pistons…so far.

10. Indiana Pacers (5-4)
A summation of Indiana’s season can be found at the Pacers blog 8 points, 9 seconds. “In a larger sense, Tyler is already the teams fourth-best non-injured player after Danny, Roy and Dahntay. Luther Head is ineffective, and I’m being polite here.”

11. Toronto Raptors (5-7)

Chris Bosh might have to have 20-15 every night if they’re going to reach the postseason

12. Charlotte Bobcats (3-8)

Under Larry Brown, they’ll figure some type of rotation that works out. Or maybe he’s finally nearing the end of his storied career?

13. Washington Wizards (3-7)
Things should get a lot better now that they have Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and Gilbert Arenas all on the floor at the same time now. Jamison is especially crucial because he can play both the three and the four so well.

14. New York Knicks (2-9)
They have a grasp on the concept of defense…it’s right up there with Sarah Palin’s stranglehold on reality; and knowledge of basic science. How much longer can they blame Isaish for this mess? A while actually.

15. New Jersey Nets (0-12)
Closing in on one of the most embarrassing records a NBA team can have. But they will get healthy, and be better, eventually. Someday soon they won’t have to take the floor with Brook Lopez and CDR as their “go-to-guys.”

Brandon Jennings slices, then rains on the Golden State defense

Warriors Bucks Basketball

By Jake McCormick

If social media could crown NBA stardom, Milwaukee Buck Brandon Jennings is well on his way after Saturday night’s record-setting performance against the Warriors.

Typically on a Saturday night, the college community is out debaucherizing themselves away from the blue hue that is the computer screen. A quick check of Facebook statuses and Twitter search words revealed profile-wide praise of the 20-year-old rookie point guard that popped up almost as quickly as his crossover drives to the hoop. Notice I said almost.

“Considering (Jennings’) is a rookie, he’s not greedy. He was just open and knocking down shots,” head coach Scott Skiles said after the Milwaukee Bucks’ 129-125 win over the Golden State Warriors. “I know what it’s like to be in that zone. In any NBA game when a guy goes off like that, you’re foolish if you’re not going to ride that.”

In a defensively-challenged win against one of the league’s top scoring offenses, Jennings’ much needed 55 points was the most posted by an NBA rookie since 1968 and broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s previous mark of 51. All of his points were scored after the first quarter, including a Bucks’ record 29 points in the third.

After shooting a frustrating 4-13 in the first half, Jennings said his second made shot of the third quarter turned on the switch that made him knock down 12-13 third quarter shots, including 4-5 three point three pointers.

“Luckily I hit the first two and it seemed like the rim was getting bigger and bigger and I couldn’t miss,” Jennings said after the game.

Down 57-49 at halftime, the Bradley Center crowd was so lethargic that parachute T-shirts raining from the rafters like World War II paratroopers were cheered louder than any run the Bucks’ put together in the first two quarters. Jennings’ 16-2 run to start the second half increased the decibel level faster than a Michael Jackson surprise concert outside Neverland Ranch. The torrid start helped the Bucks’ to an 80-68 second half advantage and keeping Milwaukee undefeated when trailing at halftime this season.

Warriors Bucks BasketballCenter Andrew Bogut continued his high percentage inside game, going 9-12. However, his 1-6 at the line continued Milwaukee’s ventures into the entrepreneurial field of brick laying, but Bogut said he isn’t concerned about stats as long as the wins keep coming.

“It was a great game for Brandon; great for his confidence,” said Bogut, who’s solid 19 points and 11 rebounds were his fourth double-double of the young season.

Despite the win, Skiles wasn’t happy with Milwaukee’s uncharacteristically slow defense. The Bucks have been one of the top defensive teams in the league this season, but you wouldn’t know it from Saturday’s performance. With a 56.1% field goal percentage for the game, the Warriors became the first team to shoot above 50% against Milwaukee this year.

“I don’t want to sell their players, but we just didn’t come out with the necessary defensive intensity,” Skiles said. “At some point during game, you’re going to have to get stops, and we never really did. When you give guys three or four feet they take the distance.”

Despite the Bucks' win, this was a pretty common site all night. Too bad the Warriors treat the glass like a fourth grader would treat the "hot lava" sidewalk.

Despite the Bucks' win, this was a pretty common site all night. Too bad the Warriors treat the glass like a fourth grader would treat the "hot lava" sidewalk.

Heading into Monday’s matchup against the Dallas Mavericks, Jennings just hopes to follow up his record-setting performance with another win that would extend the Bucks’ streak to five. Growing into a star in only his seventh game has done wonders for Jennings’s confidence, but he’s more than willing to relent and spread the wealth as needed.

“My confidence level is like when I was at Oak Hill my senior year in high school, as far as being comfortable and playing out there,” Jennings said. “Every game we have to come out, feed Bogut the ball and see what happens after that.”

With Jennings taking a philosophically socialist approach to his job as a point guard, the rest of the team seems to be feeding off his energy and charisma. It’s too early, of course, to be talking about more than just the next game on tap, but the Jennings-Bogut co-op are certainly injecting some life and interest into a franchise that is definitely one of the big surprises of the young NBA season.

Oh, and Michael Redd is expected back during this week’s three game homestand. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Race

tyreke_evans-kings

By: David Kay

Welcome to a weekly feature here at the The Sports Bank where we break down the top rookies in the NBA and who has the edge to win the Rookie of the Year Award.  Check back every Thursday for an update.

Injuries have allowed several rookies to begin to flourish for their respective teams.  One rookie is gaining ground on the early favorite to claim the honor.  Here is the updated Rookie of the Year rankings.

1. Brandon Jennings, Bucks (Last Week Ranking: #1)
’09-’10: 20.7 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg

Just when I debating whether to drop Jennings out of the top spot, he drops 32 points in the Bucks win against Denver and TOTALLY redeems himself.  Milwaukee is now a surprising 4-2 which is impressive considering Michael Redd’s injury.  Jennings is a big part of the reason for that.

2. Tyreke Evans, Kings (LWR: #4)
’09-’10: 16.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 4.4 apg, 1.5 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 17.5 ppg, 5 rpg, 6 apg, 2 spg

Now that Kevin Martin has joined Francisco Garcia as injured Kings and Desmond Mason has been released, Evans is shouldering a much heavier load.  Strange how Sacramento hasn’t missed a beat though as they have won three straight with Evans leading the way.  He scored 32 in a win at Utah and put together a 20 point, 8 rebound, 8 assist game Tuesday vs. the Thunder.

3. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves (LWR: #3)
’09-’10: 15.0 ppg, 3.2 apg, 3.4 rpg, 1.3 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 15 ppg, 7 apg, 1.75 spg

Despite the T-Wolves eight game losing skid, Flynn has been solid.  The assist total is much lower than expected and Minnesota needs him to become more of a playmaker.

terrence-williams-nets

4. Terrence Williams, Nets (LWR: #6)
’09-’10: 10.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, .4 spg
’09-’10 Prediction: 7 ppg, 4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2 spg

Having four Net starters either injured or sick has meant a spot in the starting line-up and more playing time for the former Louisville Cardinal.  As expected, he has struggled shooting the ball, but using his versatility to be a factor in other aspects of the game.

Check out the rest of the Rookie of Year Race Rankings and NBA Power Rankings.

2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Race

brandon-jennings-bucks

By: David Kay

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at the The Sports Bank where we break down the top rookies in the NBA and who has the edge to win the Rookie of the Year Award.  Check back every Thursday for an update.

Just a week into the season and there seems to be one rookie establishing himself as the early leader in the clubhouse for the ROY award.  Of course everyone’s predicted runaway winner, Blake Griffin, is expected to be sidelined until mid-December due to a broken left knee cap, meaning the race suddenly became very interesting until the number one overall pick steps back onto the court.  Here are the updated rankings after the first week of the season:

1. Brandon Jennings, Bucks (Last Week Ranking: #3)
’09-’10: 22.0 ppg, 5.3 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.7 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 7 apg, 2 spg

Jennings has stepped in from the opening tip and taken control of this Bucks team.  He nearly posted a triple-double in his first NBA game, falling one assist and one rebound short.  His composure and leadership looks like that of a veteran and his critiqued poor outside shooting has yet to be seen as he is 7 of 14 from deep.  The predictable injury to Michael Redd should give Jennings even more opportunities to shine early in the season.

2. Stephen Curry, Warriors (LWR: #4)
’09-’10: 11.0 ppg, 6.7 apg, 3.0 rpg, 2.3 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 12 ppg, 4 apg, 3 rpg

Golden State has only played three games, but Curry has looked solid in starting each game.  He has spent most of his time running the point and showing his unselfishness with his pass-first mentality.  I mean, he has only attempted six three-pointers in 103 minutes.  Unheard of for the trigger happy Curry we saw at Davidson!

3. Jonny Flynn, Timberwolves (LWR: #2)

’09-’10: 13.8 ppg, 3.6 apg, 3.2 rpg, 1.2 spg
My ’09-’10 Prediction: 15 ppg, 7 apg, 1.75 spg

Flynn has come out in Minnesota and started his first games in the NBA.  He has found himself sharing time at the point with free agent signing Ramon Sessions who has even stolen some minutes from Flynn down the stretch.  The former Syracuse point guard has shown flashes, but is also playing like a rookie so far, having more turnovers than assists in three of his five games.

Check out the complete top ten Rookie of the Year Race.

Also check out our 2010 NBA Mock Draft.