Milwaukee Bucks fans who love Brandon Jennings and were ready to panic that the Bucks hadn't extended his contract should be relieved to see that the Bucks' failure to reach a deal doesn't mean they're ready to let him walk. Considering his future, that's a very good thing.
Jennings is a fantastic player whom the Bucks fully intend to retain, according to Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld.com:
The next thing to be considered is the Bucks’ commitment to Jennings, and HOOPSWORLD has learned that the commitment is very real. There is no plan to trade Jennings or even gauge his market value, as he is seen as the long-term solution and a firm foundation around which to build in Milwaukee.
The simple fact is that Jennings’ agent, Bill Duffy, came with a bigger offer than the Bucks were willing to consider, and while Milwaukee put a few smaller offers on the table and other numbers were discussed in relation to other, similar, players, no agreement was reached.
The Bucks' young point guard has started off the season this year gangbusters. He's averaging 17.0 points per game and a career-high NBA-leading 13.0 assists per game. Granted, that's a two-game sample size, so how much that holds is a huge question mark.
It is the first time he's ever dished 13 dimes in consecutive games, though.
Jennings has long established his ability to score. The passing is something new. While he's not likely to maintain 13.0 per game for the year, he's looking like a career high is a given, especially considering that his previous high was less than half that, 6.3.
Not to completely disregard his scoring, though, especially when it comes at opportune times.
The other big improvement in Jennings' stats this year is his defense. His defensive rating is a career-low 91, which is a full 16 points down from last season. He's also leading the NBA in steals per game, with 4.0.
His overall performance was enough to get him named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, an award he won for the first time in his career.
Jennings' numbers for his first week aren't likely to maintain their early pace, but he is a star point guard in a point guard league.
Jennings is also proving he has more value than Monta Ellis, whom they obtained last season. While Jennings is on the court without Ellis the Bucks are a plus-27 per 36 minutes. However, when Ellis is on the court without Jennings, they are "only" a plus-16.8.
Of course, this again needs to be tempered with the fact that we're dealing with small sample sizes.
If the Bucks had to chose between Ellis and Jennings, which should they keep?
What's interesting is that while the Bucks are doing great with either one or the other, they've actually been a minus-five with both on the court together.
So, if the Bucks were forced to chose which of the two they want, it makes a lot more sense to chose Jennings. Ellis is undersized, and defensively, isn't offering the same resistance that Jennings has. While Jennings, based on defensive rating, is the best defensive player the Bucks have, Ellis is the second-worst.
Furthermore, Ellis can be a volume scorer who has seen a steady decline in his field-goal percentage. Over the last two years, he's fallen off the cliff. In his first six seasons, Ellis shot .469. During his last two, he's shot only .442.
The Bucks are better off inking a player who is on the incline than on the decline, especially one whose peak is as high as Jennings is. He's starting now to show how much potential he truly has. Bucks fans should be happy to know Milwaukee is planning to keep him around.