In 2008 the National Basketball Association had to deal with an individual who would consider himself a “trailblazer” and buck the trend of playing for a college team while staying within the NBA’s age restriction rules. While opinions on why Brandon Jennings decided to travel to Italy to play professional basketball out of high school instead of attend a high level college may differ, the fact still remains that he has developed into a player that many didn’t think he would become.
Slowly but surely, Brandon Jennings has begun to prove experts wrong across the board. His time in Italy could be considered a money grab in an attempt to make up for the fact that his academic abilities may have hampered him in college. While playing overseas he wasn’t very effective in limited play as he never averaged more than 8 points for the 43 games he appeared in across two leagues. His draft stock was affected as he fell to tenth in the draft and was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks, falling behind three other point guards selected that year.
Since then, Jennings has developed in a player that has shown the abilities to lead a team from the backcourt. Even as a rookie, he’s flashed the scoring ability that can become vital as a point guard while being able to facilitate to his teammates. Now in his third NBA season, those skill sets continue to improve. During the 2012-2013 season he’s already pushed his numbers to career highs across the board. He’s averaging 18.1 points and 5.9 assists per game which rank him very high among all point guards. Furthermore, he’s staying very effective with his shoots; making 40 percent of his attempts from the floor which includes 36 percent from behind the three point line and 83 percent of all free throws.
Playing alongside experienced guard Monta Ellis gives Jennings and the Bucks the ability to have a much diversified attack from the guard position and both players have benefited from the opportunity. Even though the team is currently sitting at 17-16; Jennings has proved that he has the ability to help push them towards a playoff run late in the season.
Even though expectations were not high for Brandon Jennings when he was selected tenth in the 2009 NBA Draft, he’s become what many may consider one of the top 10 point guards in the league. When it’s all said and done, Jennings may become known for much more than being the first player drafted to skip college for time in the European professional leagues. Instead, he may be considered one of the factors that built the Milwaukee Bucks into Eastern Conference playoff contenders.