Milwaukee Bucks Need a True Point Guard, Not Brandon Jennings
Milwaukee Bucks fans must be wondering what went wrong.
They were the surprise package of the 2009-10 season and, despite the loss of Andrew Bogut to a horrific injury late in the season, managed to push playoff regulars the Atlanta Hawks to the brink of elimination.
One season and some decent free-agent signings later, instead of relishing the chance of winning their first playoffs series since 2001, they were left dejected, as they could only put together a 35-win season.
There was nothing wrong with their defense (92.72 points allowed per game). The problem was with their offense (91.88 points scored per game), and anybody who is able to do addition and subtraction would realize that they are scoring less than their opponents, which is never a good thing.
The puzzling part is their biggest loss in the offseason was Luke Ridnour, who is by no means a better scorer than Corey Maggette, who can do nothing but score, or Drew Gooden, a veteran who can put up double digits in points regularly.
So, with the acquisition of players such as these, why were the Bucks so offensively inept?
The problem is with Brandon Jennings.
Not him alone, but because he is the starting point guard, he is at fault the most.
Flash back to last year, and Ridnour would be playing the point whenever he was on the court. He played 21.5 minutes per game, which meant that for almost half a game he was the one directing the plays and looking for the open man.
Returning to the present, the duties are now shared by Jennings, Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins. None of them are pass-first point guards—if Jennings and Boykins grew to around 6'4" or 6'5", they would be playing the shooting guard position.
All of them are combo guards and, while they can play the point for a short period of time without causing the coach any grief, at times it would be difficult for them to decide between the two conventional ways a point guard can lead a team—by scoring or by passing.
Surrounded with offensive weapons like Chris Douglas-Roberts, John Salmons and Maggette to name a few, it would be difficult to not find at least 10 opportunities in a game where they would be able to catch the ball from the point guard and come up with a bucket.
Yet, Jennings only averaged 4.8 assists per game in 34 minutes of play. By comparison, Ridnour had 4.0 assists per game last season in 13 fewer minutes played.
Bucks coach Scott Skiles called out Jennings in his lack of leadership at the end of last season and I share the same doubts that he has on whether Jennings can ever be a leader...at least a leader who knows where his other teammates are and can find them for an easy bucket.
Fortunately for the Bucks, good point guards are a dime a dozen in the NBA nowadays, and it won't be difficult for Bucks general manager John Hammond to find a pass-first point guard to take some of the ball-handling duties.
Preferably, that point guard would be someone like Steve Blake, a solid defender who is also a good ball-handler which will allow Jennings to shift to the 2 and have a similar feel to the Allen Iverson-Eric Snow pairing in Philadelphia in the early 2000s.
The Bucks have a good supporting cast surrounding a good core. Now all they need is a good point guard who acknowledges their existence. Jennings could be the one, but if he isn't, replacements are on speed dial.
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