Milwaukee Bucks: Time for Brandon Jennings to Grow Up

Michael DulkaContributor IDecember 13, 2011

ATLANTA - MAY 2:  Guard Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks loses the ball while guard Mike Bibby #10 of the Atlanta Hawks defends him during Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 2, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Hawks beat the Bucks 95-74.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
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Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings enters his third NBA season with pressure mounting. Inconsistent over his first two seasons, Jennings needs to take the next step for the Bucks to get over the hump and into the playoffs this season. 

Since being drafted, Jennings has shown flashes of being a great point guard but has also had his fair share of moments leaving fans scratching their heads. 

With little scoring power on the roster last year, Jennings led the team with 16.2 points per game. In the offseason, the Bucks improved their ability to score by bringing in Stephen Jackson and Mike Dunleavy. Jackson will start with Jennings in the Bucks' backcourt.

The addition of offense will certainly help take pressure off Jennings, allowing him to play a more balanced game.

Despite his small size (6'1", 169 lbs.), Jennings was incredibly durable in his rookie season as he played in all 82 games. Last season didn't follow the same script as Jennings was hobbled at times and ended up playing in 63 games.

Jennings failed to make big strides in his game from year one to year two as his stat line remained fairly similar. The stats fail to tell the full story for Jennings, who had some great games but also some absolute duds.

At times, the problems came from Jennings trying to do too much. Bad shots and turnovers hurt the team too often. 

A three-game stretch of all losses in late November of last year perfectly illustrates Jennings' inconsistency. On Nov. 20, Jennings shot 33.3 percent from the field and scored 25 points. Four nights later, Jennings shot 1-of-10 from the field and managed three points. Two nights later, Jennings shot close to 41 percent and again scored 25 points.

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 24: Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles the basketball against the Atlanta Hawks during Game Three of Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at the Bradley Center on April 24, 2010 in Milwaukee, Wis
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It would be easy to assume it was just an off night that every player in the league has once in a while, but it happened on too many occasions for Jennings.  

In year three, it is time for Jennings to mature and become a more balanced point guard for a Bucks team that has attempted to become better balanced. 

If Jennings fails to improve, the Bucks now have a solid backup in Beno Udrih that will certainly steal minutes. Udrih had his best season in the league last year, playing in 79 games for the Sacramento Kings while posting career highs in minutes, field-goal percentage, rebounds, assists and points. 

This Bucks team will quickly find out if it has what it takes to contend for a playoff spot in the crowded Eastern Conference. They have the roster to do so and will go as far as their third-year point guard will take them.