Brandon Jennings was 0-for-3 with no free-throw attempts and no rebounds through three quarters against the 76ers last night. That was also his final line, because Jim Boylan benched the Bucks point guard for the fourth quarter.
Jennings didn’t take kindly to the move. Associated Press:
“I don’t see any All-Stars in this locker room,” he said.
“I think that everyone should be held accountable,” he said. “There’s no maxed-out players in this locker room. So don’t try to put me on a pedestal and just give everyone else the freedom to do whatever they want.”
If Jennings, who will become a restricted free agent this summer, wants to receive a max contract (or anything near it), he better start acting like a max player right now. Being a max player, as Jennings hints, comes with higher expectations. Teams will be rightfully skeptical of giving big money to Jennings, who just announced he doesn’t want to be held to a higher standard. If he’s not going all out in a contract year, why would that change once he gets a guaranteed large contract?
But I’m also sympathetic to Jennings’ situation.
The Bucks embarrassed him. He’s embarrassing them.
That’s not the mature, measured response I’m sure Boylan was seeking, but it’s an understandable response. It’s probably no coincidence Jennings is better than most NBA players, including most of his teammates. Typically, better players are better because they work harder. Jennings has probably out-worked his peers to raise his baseline level, and now he’s being punished for not meeting the standard he created by working hard in the first place.
Still, Jennings fell well below any reasonable standard last night. But he also limited his impact. He took just three shots and had no turnovers. Some players force the issue to protect their per-game averages, but Jennings just allowed teammates who were having better games to take over.
It’s not the 0-for-3, no-turnover nights that kill you. It’s the 3-for-14, six-turnover nights that kill you. Jennings played like he understood the difference.
Is that the mark of an All-Star or a max player? Well, Jennings answered that himself when he sat in the locker room and said there were no All-Stars or max players in the locker room.
But that is the type of performance that probably should have earned Jennings a couple fourth quarter minutes to try to get back on track and, at minimum, save the shaming of a benching.