After the first month of the season, onetime international man of mystery Brandon Jennings appeared to have the rookie of the year award absolutely locked up. Jennings was raining slingshot threes in from everywhere on the court, getting wherever he wanted with his dribble, and proving that he had the passing acumen to run the point for Scott Skiles. In the month of January, Jennings averaged 22 points a game, made nearly half of his threes, and went off for 55 points against the Golden State Warriors.
Since that time, things have changed. Jennings’ outside shot went cold, and when that happened it became apparent that Jennings still has serious weaknesses in his game, like most rookies do. In particular, Jennings’ occasionally questionable shot selection and difficulty finishing inside or drawing fouls caused his points per game and field goal percentages to plummet. In the month of February, Jennings averaged 10.7 points per game while shooting an abysmal 30.7% from the field.
Meanwhile, fellow rookie point guards Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry have put together fabulous rookie seasons on struggling teams, and are widely considered the heavy favorites to win the rookie of the year trophy.
While Evans and Curry continue to put up stellar stat lines on rebuilding teams (well, the Kings are rebuilding — the Warriors are kind of a disaster), Jennings’ Bucks are in the playoff hunt, thanks in no small part to Jennings’ ability to run the offense and his chemistry on the pick-and-roll with Andrew Bogut, who is having easily the best season of his career.
When Jennings compared his season to the rookie campaigns of Evans and Curry, he didn’t mince words. According to the most recent rookie rankings on NBA.com, Jennings was recently quoted saying the following:
“Right now, I’m playing for something bigger. I don’t even care about the Rookie of the Year. Forget it. Whoever gets it, who cares? Both of their teams suck, so whoever gets it, it doesn’t matter.”
It’s nice to see that Jennings is focused on team success instead of individual accolades at this early stage in his career. Jennings hasn’t been afraid to speak his mind ever since he got into the national spotlight, and his feelings about the ROY award definitely reflect that. I think it’s possible for Jennings to make it clear that the playoffs are his first priority without denigrating the seasons Evans and Curry are having, but it’s always refreshing to see straight talk and a focus on winning from a budding NBA player.