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The Milwaukee Bucks Brandon Jennings Dilemma

November 17th 2012 21:38
During the Milwaukee Bucks heyday of the eighties point guard was always a position of defensive strength. With Quinn Buckner, Sidney Moncrief (more of a two, but played the point role often), and Paul Pressey playing Don Nelson’s “point-forward” role (a term Marques Johnson claims to have coined as he also played this position from time to time) the Bucks enjoyed several years of Central division titles and deep playoff runs. Since, the position has been pieced together with Eric Murdock, Jay Humphries, Sherman Douglass, T.J. Ford, and Sam Cassell. With the exception of Cassell, who enjoyed success with the bucks for a couple seasons this has not been a position of strength, until now. Brandon Jennings is starting his fourth season as the Bucks point guard; a restricted free agent after this season, the Bucks elected not to extend Jennings and see how the season plays out. BJ is off to a hot start and so the question stands: Is Brandon Jennings worth a max contract?

The Case for Brandon Jennings deserving a Max Contract

For starters, the fans (as a whole) have embraced Jennings. As a rookie he was a key ingredient to the “Fear the Deer” run and was given the nickname “The Rooster.” His outspoken attitude translated to a court leader, a necessity at the position of point guard. Jennings is quick and has the ability to score in bunches. During his first three seasons Brandon has demonstrated a great lead-by-example work ethic that finds him in the gym often and working on his deficiencies during the off-season. Jennings has flash, but he doesn’t take plays off, this blue collar attitude works well in Milwaukee, a city that embraces gruff sports stars and shuns prima donnas (SEE: Gary Sheffield). This season BJ has shown his greatest improvement, increasing both his assist and steal output while continuing to lead the team with his scoring. Most importantly, he has led Milwaukee to the top of the division, winning games the team needs to win in order to return to the playoffs. Milwaukee is not a place free agents place at the top of their lists; however, Brandon has expressed (most of the time) his desire to continue his career in Brew City.

The Case for Brandon Jennings NOT deserving a Max Contract
Jennings has yet to make the All-Star team. Part of this may be small market (and poor team performance) bias, but the fact is: how many non-All Stars receive max deals? (NOTE: Should Jennings and the Bucks continue their hot start Jennings should receive great consideration to be an All-Star this season.) All-Star appearances aside, the Bucks organization need to ask themselves if Jennings is the player to lead the team to compete for a championship or does he (and the team) max out as a perennial first round playoff team loser. If the answer is the latter, then it will be difficult for a small market team that will likely shy away from a luxury tax to give 80 million dollars to their point guard.

The X-Factor

As stated, Brandon Jennings is off to a hot start. He credits this to “playing with something to prove” and that this has put a chip on his shoulder. What happens if he gets a max deal with Milwaukee? Will Jennings find another area of motivation, or will we need to wait until his next contract year?

Conclusion
This year Jennings will have the opportunity to prove his worth. Should he (and the team) continue to perform as they have to start the season some team will offer Brandon a max (or close to) contract and the Milwaukee Bucks will have to decide whether to match. Both BJ and the Bucks are on the clock. If Jennings leads the Bucks to the playoffs and the future looks bright (as it did after his rookie season) it will be in the best interest of the Bucks to sign him. After all, Milwaukee isn’t Miami (or L.A., or NY, etc…) and that isn’t changing anytime soon, or ever…

David S. Grant is an author of several books, rock columnist, travel writer, and NBA blogger. Follow David on Twitter: @david_s_grant

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