Brandon Jennings with a mean throw-down [video]

Good to see Brandon Jennings is spending the lockout playing on the “And1” tour.

Somebody please stop the ball.

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Revisiting the point guards of the 2009 NBA Draft

Atlanta Hawks’ Jeff Teague (R) drives to the net on Chicago Bulls’ Omer Asik during Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Chicago, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Jeff Teague’s series performance (17-4-3, 56% shooting) against the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Semis got me thinking about all the promising point guards that came out of the 2009 Draft. Take a look:

5. Ricky Rubio, T-Wolves
6. Jonny Flynn, T-Wolves
7. Stephen Curry, Warriors
10. Brandon Jennings, Bucks
17. Jrue Holiday, 76ers
18. Ty Lawson, T-Wolves (traded to Nuggets)
19. Jeff Teague, Hawks
20. Eric Maynor, Jazz (traded to Thunder)
21. Darren Collison, Hornets (traded to Pacers)
25. Rodrigue Beaubois, Thunder (traded to Mavericks)
29. Toney Douglas, Knicks

It’s pretty amazing that with the emergence of Teague in Atlanta, no fewer than six players on that list have developed into starting caliber point guards in the NBA. Four others (Douglas, Beaubois, Maynor and Flynn) are rotation players.

Here are the 2010-11 stats for each player, sorted by Efficiency Per Minute, which is I believe the best way to quickly compare a player’s production.

Read the rest of this entry »

Brandon Jennings sounds like he might stay put

Jennings appeared on “Rome Is Burning” and said the following about Scott Skiles and the city of Milwaukee.

“I can’t complain where I am now, with a great coach,” Jennings said when Jim Rome asked how he felt about being selected a bit lower in the draft than he expected. “He’s been teaching me a lot this year and he’s the reason why I’ve had a successful season.”

Jennings was asked about Skiles’ approach.

“He’s real tough,” Jennings said. “But he’s a great teacher. He’s the guy that, hopefully, he’ll be my coach for the rest of my career. I feel that my game can elevate with having him on the sideline.”

Rome asked Jennings if he can see himself remaining in Milwaukee long term.

“I can,” Jennings said. “I like it. It reminds me of Italy.  . . . (a) laid back town, small little market and they’re real big on sports.”

This should quell any feelings of dread surrounding Jennings’ free agency. I realize that it’s five seasons a way, but we long-suffering Bucks fans are worry warts. Now that we’ve had a taste of (albeit mild) success, we want to build on it, not lose our star point guard to the Mavs in four years.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Hawks put away Bucks, 95-74

Milwaukee was cold from the field in Game 6 and that trend continued on Sunday, as the Bucks hit just 33% of their shots (an just 21% of their threes) in Game 7. The Bucks’ defense kept the game from getting out of hand, but without Andrew Bogut, Milwaukee had to hit its shots to keep it close.

Still, the Bucks trailed by just 12 early in the fourth quarter, but the Hawks buckled down and outscored Milwaukee 19-10 over the final ten minutes of the game. Joe Johnson struggled (4-of-14 from the field, 8 points), but the Hawks got good games from Jamal Crawford (22 points), Al Horford (16 points), Josh Smith (15 points) and Mike Bibby (15 points), who combined to shoot 25-of-43 (58%) from the field.

This series probably would have ended differently had Bogut been healthy, but give the Hawks credit for playing well with their proverbial backs against the wall. They played great defense in the last two games, and have all the tools to be a great defensive team. But Atlanta’s problem is focus. The Hawks have a tendency to vary their level of effort depending on the score of the game, and often come apart at the seams when the chips are down. They’re good, but they’re not good enough to turn it on and off whenever they want.

Do they have a chance against the Magic? Sure, but the Hawks are going to have to play an entire series the way they did in their four wins against the Bucks. Against the Bucks, if the Hawks played well, they’d win. That’s not necessarily the case against the Magic.

As for the Bucks, this was a disappointing end to a great season, but like Scott Skiles said in his “wired” segment before the game, when the team was sitting at 18-25 during the season, had anyone asked if they’d take an opportunity to play in a Game 7, they would have jumped on it. The fact that they pushed a far more talented Hawks team to seven games without Bogut is a moral victory.

Looking ahead to this summer, veterans Luke Ridnour, Kurt Thomas and Jerry Stackhouse are free agents. Ridnour played well enough this season to potentially earn a starting gig next season, though he’d likely struggle against the other starting-caliber point guards in the league. Thomas and Stackhouse may come back to give the Bucks a steady veteran presence off the bench, though GM John Hammond would be wise to keep the purse strings as tight as possible.

The big free agent decision may be John Salmons, who could opt out of the final year of the contract ($5.8 million). Despite posting 18-4-4 in the series against the Hawks, Salmons may have played himself out a few million dollars with a woeful shooting performance (8-of-31, 26%) in Game 6 and Game 7, when the Bucks needed him most. Salmons turns 31 in December, so the Bucks should proceed with caution. I can see a three-year deal worth $21-$24 million, but Milwaukee shouldn’t break the bank trying to re-sign him.

From Salmons’ point of view, he should give the Bucks a hometown discount, because he wouldn’t even be in the position to sign a lucrative new deal this summer if Hammond hadn’t traded for him at the deadline and Skiles hadn’t given him the freedom to be the Bucks’ main scorer on the wing.

Milwaukee projects to have a ton of cap space next summer (2011), so assuming the deal lasts at least two years, whatever contract they sign Salmons to will cut into that projected cap space.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Bucks stun Hawks, take 3-2 lead

After a Josh Smith jumper, Atlanta led by nine with 4:09 to play, and the Bucks’ chances were looking pretty grim. But Milwaukee went on a 14-0 run over the next three and a half minutes to take a five-point lead. The run was keyed by John Salmons (8 points) and Ersan Ilyasova, who made a couple of key saves that led to a Carlos Delfino three and an inside bucket for Ilyasova.

Also key was Joe Johnson’s sixth foul, which came on a drive to the basket with 2:15 to play. Kurt Thomas, who drew a couple of key fouls in Game 4, stepped in and took the charge, and the play forced the Hawks’ best player out of the game. They tried to go to Josh Smith and Jamal Crawford down the stretch, but they went a combined 0-for-5 in the final two minutes. Throw in the Bucks’ 10-for-12 stretch from the free throw line (including 4-for-4 from Brandon Jennings with under 0:20 to play), and it all adds up to a Milwaukee win.

Jennings led the Bucks with 25-4-3 and is now averaging 20-3-4 in the postseason. Salmons chipped in with 19 points and played excellent defense on Johnson (6-for-16, 13 points) all night. The Bucks have won three straight after Scott Skiles decided to put Salmons on Johnson and let his defensive specialist, Luc Mbah a Moute, cover Josh Smith, who killed Milwaukee in the first two games. Salmons has proven that he’s up to the challenge and it has completely turned this series on its head.

The Bucks now head back to the friendly confines of the Bradley Center on Friday night with a chance to close out the series. I fully expect a raucous Milwaukee crowd.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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